IpSkip Productions’ founder and Resident Director, Nathan Quadrio is branching away from adult plays such as Educating Rita and Steel Magnolias to produce and direct his and the company’s first children’s show, Joseph Robinette’s stage version of E. B. White’s delightful children’s novel, Charlotte’s Web. I managed to track Nathan down to ask him about his latest venture.
B.G.: Nathan, could you tell us a little about yourself and your theatrical experience?
N.Q.: Working with young people has been a passion of mine for a long time both in and out of theatre. For several years I was involved in Scout Shouts Youth Theatre as a performer, writer and director. I’ve also worked with children of many different ages as a swimming instructor for the past six years. And I’m just about to finish a Teaching Degree paired with an Arts Degree with an English/Drama focus. So in terms of children’s theatre, I’m familiar with the market. Outside of my work with children I’ve been involved in theatre for the past 6 years performing in 14 productions, both plays and musicals, over that time. Offstage I have produced and directed seasons of Educating Rita, Steel Magnolias and Love Letters with my own company IpSkip Productions. Charlotte’s Web is our first foray into children’s theatre.
B.G.: Why direct Children’s Theatre and, in particular, why Charlotte’s Web?
N.Q.: IpSkip’s mission statement focuses on providing quality theatre at an affordable price. The opportunity to provide children with the chance to experience live theatre is an amazing one and will hopefully bring them and their families further into the Arts. The performing arts have been shown to offer so much to young people and we’re all excited to bring a little bit of that to Adelaide. I chose Charlotte’s Web because it’s a really recognisable story which makes it more engaging for the kids. I know some parents who are preparing their kids for the show by reading the book or watching the movie. Joseph Robinette’s adaptation is brilliant. It’s hilarious but also really heartwarming and it manages to pack the whole story really neatly into just 60 minutes.
B.G.: What challenges are different from directing for adults?
N.Q.: Although this is my first time directing children’s theatre, the experience has been very much like directing for an adult audience. The characters are larger than life but the script is great at telling the story in an easy-to-understand way that doesn’t talk down to the kids. I just need to make sure that the script is delivered in the best way that it can be and the cast is definitely doing that.
B.G.: How are you representing the animals costume-wise?
N.Q.: This cast is absolutely amazing at creating all of their characters in cool and funny ways. The animal aspect is implied in a simple way with costumes and the actors do most of the leg work. Many of the actors also play multiple characters so the costuming can’t be too full-on.
B.G.: Tell us about the cast and the challenges that they may have had to face
N.Q.: This cast is a very talented and fun bunch to be working with. It’s a good combination of newcomers and those who have been treading the boards for a long time. I’m pretty sure that none of them have done children’s theatre before but they’re all lively character actors. The creativity in the rehearsal room is amazing and each of the actors has been a joy to work with. There have been a few challenges along the way. Some of the actors have many different characters with many different voices and accents which has made for some hilarious experimentation. As Wilbur the pig, Eloise Quinn-Valentine has been an absolute trooper spending the entire show on her knees! The whole cast is dedicated to making this the most engaging and fun show for the kids which has been amazing to work with.
B.G.: Is there anything else that you would like to say about the production?
N.Q.: Something that I definitely think is special about our production is the space that we’re using. We’ve had to do a bit of switching around with venues due to some issues in the rehearsal season but Black Canvas Photographers have taken us in and we’ll be performing the whole show in the round with the opportunity for the kids to sit on the floor. This gives the kids more opportunity to wriggle (as they do!) and get right up in the action. It’ll be happening right in front of them!
Charlotte’s Web will be playing at Black Canvas Photographers, 4 Percy Court, Adelaide from Mon 16th July through to Fri 20th July at 10am daily. Tickets are: Adults $18, Children $15, Families $60and available from https://www.ipskipaus.com/
Interview by Brian Godfrey