Patch Theatre Company is known far and wide for its extremely high quality productions aimed at children, in particular the littlies. Their production of Emily Loves To Bounce has been so lauded and praised that it has been re-staged for a special SA ‘Family Season’ of 6 only public performances, starting this Saturday, 6 August.
Glam’s Art Editor, Brian Godfrey managed to catch up with Patch’s Artistic Director, Naomi Edwards to chat about the company and Emily Loves To Bounce.
B.G. Hi Naomi, please tell us a little bit about the company and your involvement with them
N.E. Patch Theatre is an Adelaide based touring company dedicated to making work for four to eight year olds. Enjoying its 44th year in 2016, the company tour consistently through South Australia, nationally and internationally, performing to over 60,000 children a year. I had the great honour of becoming Artistic Director of this well loved and respected company last year. I was part of Patch Theatre’s commitment to developing artists, joining the company as the first of the Associate Director Residency. This year we toured The Moon’s A Balloon throughout Australia after enjoying a sell out season at the Adelaide Festival Centre and we’re thrilled to be bringing Emily Loves To Bounce back to the stage.
B.G. Emily Loves To Bounce is based on three books by Stephen Michael King, Emily Loves To Bounce, Henry And Amy and Patricia. Why those particular three?
N.E. Stephen Michael King is a beautiful illustrator and writer. His books are rich with imagery and carry a gentle emotional heart. Their characters and stories provided excellent inspirational fodder for the show’s creative team. Originally devised by Dave Brown (former Patch Theatre Artistic Director), Ingrid Voorendt, Zoe Barry, Jon Bode, Geoff Cobham, Greg Cousins, Belinda Gehlert and Astrid Pill – Patch Theatre’s Emily Loves to Bounce is a result of much play and experimentation, drawing inspiration from the source texts and allowing that to grow and combine into new theatrical ideas. Anyone who knows the books, will recognise characters and objects from these books, but the show also stands alone for those who are unfamiliar with them.
B.G. What is the overall theme of the show?
N.E. Emily Loves to Bounce is about many things. Our two characters, Henry and Amy (played by SA performers James Smith and Sarah Brokensha) are quite opposite in personality and yet through play and adventure, they learn from each other and discover a new relationship. So I guess you could say it’s about opposites and connection, about play and imagination.
B.G. The show features two musicians as well. How do they fit into the concept?
N.E. Belinda Gelhert and Rachel Bruerville are the two musicians in this new season of Emily Loves to Bounce, and they provide the soundscape for the show. Audiences will hear different themes for each of the characters, performed on violin, cello, melodica and other percussion instruments – all played in unique ways. The musicians observe the action, and watch as Henry and Amy discover a world full of boxes and balls, like faithful companions.
B.G. Tell us a little about the performers involved and what you feel they bring to the concept.
N.E. Sarah Brokensha and James Smith bring such an incredible playfulness and energy to Emily Loves to Bounce. It is physically and vocally demanding, so the show is a real showcase for their skills as performers. Sarah brings a warmth and charm to Amy that draws us into the story, while James plays Henry with a rambunctious energy that doesn’t fail to delight.
B.G. Why do you think the show has been as popular as it is?
N.E. Emily Loves to Bounce is a timeless favourite because of two things – the instant connection the audience make to these two characters and the beautiful images created in the show. It is totally accessible for all our age group – where the spirit of friendship, connection and imagination is celebrated. It is also full of theatrical tricks and magic which thrill our audience and keeps them guessing on how they did it.
B.G. What exactly is a ‘Family Season’?
N.E. When Patch Theatre presents a work from its repertoire, the majority of the performances are for school audiences only – but with each season we like to incorporate a few general public shows as well, because there’s always so many people keen to bring their kids along – we call this our ‘family season’. I guess that term also acknowledges that while Patch Theatre shows are ultimately designed with children aged four to eight in mind – we’re always mindful that the performance experience should be equally enjoyable for the adults or older children who accompany them. Going to the theatre with your mum or dad, grandparent or aunt or uncle, is a wonderful event – one that children remember for a long time. Going to the theatre with a grown up allows a child to discuss the show before and after, and it deeply enhances the meaning they make from the performance. Sharing a trip to the theatre is such a special time with a child, one I highly recommend.
B.G. Thank you so much Naomi. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
N.E. Live theatre is something all young kids should experience and with its colour, music and beautiful storytelling, Emily Loves to Bounce is the perfect introduction to this art form. If you have little ones in your life aged four to eight – whether they’re your own children, grandkids, nieces or nephews – bring them along to the Odeon Theatre this month for a show and make a special event of it. We’ve created performances at 1pm and 3:30pm each Saturday of the season (Aug 6, 13 & 20) to allow friends and family to come together and enjoy this theatrical treat together. Tickets are available online via
Interview by Brian Godfrey