Little Light: The Scottish-Jordanian Puppet Show
The Skinny chats to Symon MacIntyre from Vision Mechanics and Razan Mbaideen from Haya Cultural Centre, Amman about their first collaboration, a new children’s show called Little Light, now touring across Scotland
The story behind the creation of Little Light, the first collaboration between Scottish theatre company Vision Mechanics and the Haya Cultural Centre in Jordan begins with a bit of coincidence and a sprinkle of luck. Brought over to Scotland as part of a British Council trip, the director of the institute had been educated in Edinburgh, and was looking to start a puppet company back home in Amman, Jordan, which is where Vision Mechanics stepped in.
“I like to think that we were the right people for the job, because we have some experience of working abroad and creating shows, which we knew would come in useful when working with Haya Cultural Centre and matching their expectations with their needs,” explains Vision Mechanics' Symon MacIntyre.
The centre had wanted to create a puppet company for nearly two years, and for Razan Mbaideen, whom MacIntyre describes as a “cultural sponge” thanks to her decision to attend as much theatre as possible in Edinburgh, and also her incredible ability to blag her way backstage – “I fit in anywhere,” she smiles – the experience has been a very positive one. “It’s fun to work with a company that has that much experience in puppetry and in theatre productions, it’s such a good experience to share our theatre and our culture.”
“We’ve created a show that’s a collaboration between two cultures which have very different ideas of what theatre is and can do in Jordan’s theatre,” begins Macintyre. “We’ve worked with two performers who knew very little about puppetry, and we’ve given them the skills and the tools – that’s come from our side. But they learned them very quickly because they do have performance skills and they are very adept at picking up new ideas and they’re keen, they’re so keen to create something.”
What they created, Little Light, is a children's play with puppets but without words. Featuring two performers, it tells the story of a little boy, a dog and a fallen star and the adventures the trio have trying to get the star back into the sky. The story, created by MacIntyre, was based on his experiences in Amman, which was dominated by 40 degree heat, and the memory of going inside to escape the heat where it occurred to him that in order to keep cool, you had to sacrifice the light.
“I think one of the things that strikes me when I go to very hot countries is, when you try to escape the heat, you try to escape the light as well – you create shaded, cool spaces to be in. Within those spaces, we’ve brought this little light, that then expands, so we’ve created our own shaded spaces in this fake tent that was inspired by all the tents that were used by nomadic people in these areas,” explains MacIntyre.
The tent, as Mbaideen explains, is also a character. “We use it for the characters as well. The tent fits 60 people – 40 kids and 20 adults. The play will be around you all the time, so it’s like magic happening, all the time.”
This magic is currently touring the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and touring is something that both companies feel very strongly about, as MacIntyre explains. “Touring is an essence of what the arts should be. It’s all very well having the theatres – and I’m very lucky in Edinburgh, I get to see a lot of theatre – but what we take out to all those bits of Scotland that no reviewers ever get to anymore because budgets are tight, that money for touring is the most important thing.”
Little Light is currently touring across Scotland, for further information visit visionmechanics.org