Darkly comic children’s tale at Worthing’s Connaught Theatre
The Take Your Seats campaign, which will have toured three productions this autumn, hopes to reignite enthusiasm for new writing and contemporary theatre which has seen attendance fall since the pandemic and due to the cost of living crisis. Take Your Seats is providing additional budget and resources to promote the shows and is also helping venues re-engage with and find new audiences.
Karen McCartney is delighted to be part of the initiative, joining the two-hander A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, a piece inspired by Gabriel García Márquez's children’s tale. The production uses a combination of music, puppetry and live video projection to bring to life this magic-realist gem. In a kitchen, in a theatre, two storytellers and their audience ﬁnd something remarkable — a very old man with enormous wings. After consulting with the neighbour – who’s an expert on all things magic – the couple decide to shelter him in the chicken coop and feed him with food scraps. A wise woman says he’s an angel. The priest says he’s an imposter. Pilgrims ﬂock to see him…
As Karen says: “It is all about making theatre more accessible. Since Covid, attendances in local theatres have been reduced and the thinking behind this is to get people in by offering deals on tickets and just generally cheaper tickets. Going on my own experience in Ireland I don't think attendances have dropped quite as much here as they have in England. In England it seems that the cost of living has gone up much more than it has done in Ireland. But it is still tricky to get people to part with their hard-earned money on plays that they never heard of before from a company that they've never heard of before. It is always a gamble so the idea is to make it easier for people.
“This show is for anyone eight years and up and it's based on a short story and is all about a very old man with enormous wings who crash-lands into a garden. It's about how the whole town treats him, this strange miracle that has come into their lives. What I like about it is that it's quite open-ended. Some people say that he is an angel but you never get a definitive answer and people tell us it makes for quite interesting conversations on the way home in the car afterwards! But equally it is great for adults. Adults love it. It's a really gorgeous piece.
“My character is called G and the two of us are storytellers and you come upon us in our little makeshift workshop. Everything is very handmade and and very low-fi but it's also really magical the way that it happens. We're adding little bits each time.
"My character is the one that tells the story while the other character M is silent throughout but he facilitates what is happening and he embodies the old man at one stage. It is just the two of us on stage.”