As the Spanish flu pandemic gripped the world 102 years ago, Western Australian children’s author and cartoonist May Gibbs brought joy to Australia with her tales of two Gumnut babies. Now, with COVID-19 dominating the news, West Australian Ballet prepares to premiere a new adaptation of Gibbs’s iconic story, The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.
Commissioned by West Australian Ballet Artistic Director Aurélien Scannella to be presented in partnership with the AWESOME Arts Festival for Bright Young Things, Gibbs’s iconic story will be adapted to include many of the well-known characters such as Mr Lizard, Mrs Fantail, Mrs Kookaburra, Mr Frog, Ragged Blossom and the evil Mrs Snake with her Banksia Men.
The 30-minute ballet created for children of all ages is choreographed by former dancer and WAAPA lecturer Andries Weidemann and sees Snugglepot and Cuddlepie embark on a journey to see humans, but as they meet Mr Lizard and other friends, they become entagled in some chaos and have to escape Mrs Snake and the Banksia Men.
“Ballet should be enjoyed by everyone, from the young to the old, and our high quality children’s ballets are created to inspire young kids who may not be able to sit through a full two-hour ballet,” said Scannella.
“We create a fun work that embraces world-class ballet technique while also including amusing acting and humour that appeals to not only the tiny tots but also some older children, too,” added Weidemann.
The exciting journey features an adventurous bespoke score created by Perth composer Emma Jayakumar and recorded by Perth Symphony Orchestra, as well as beautifully encapsulating sets and costumes from recent WAAPA graduate Amalia Lambert, with the work to be performed by West Australian Ballet’s versatile young artists and members of the corps de ballet.
“Stories like Snugglepot and Cuddlepie hold an important place in the hearts of many Australians,” said Jenny Simpson, CEO/artistic director of the AWESOME Arts Festival for Bright Young Things. “It is very exciting to see this new adaptation being presented in the heart of our 2020 AWESOME Festival.”
The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie will debut on 28 September for a five-show run on an outdoor stage in the Perth Cultural Centre, the site of successful children’s ballet Peter and the Wolf, which was also choreographed by Weidemann and enjoyed by over 6,500 attendees. Like Peter and the Wolf, The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie will be free for all as the centrepiece of the AWESOME Arts Festival.
For more information, visit waballet.com.au/whats-on/snugglepot-and-cuddlepie.