Monday, 22 September 2014

Octonauts Live! Direcor Q & A, and TICKET GIVEAWAY!

Top-selling children’s stage show producers Fiery Light today announce a brand new full-length theatre ad-venture for children, Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure

Based on the popular CBeebies’ TV show, Octonauts, this exciting new production opens at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford, on Thursday 16 Oc-tober and tours into 2015.

In Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure the entire crew of the Octonauts, led by intrepid ex-plorer Captain Barnacles, Lieutenant Kwazii and Medic Peso, embark on an exciting new underwater quest and visit amazing underwater worlds full of adventure, with surprises around every corner. 
This action-packed interactive show features new music (from BAFTA-award winning composer Mani Svavarsson) and all the Octonauts live on stage for the very first time.

Richard Lewis adapts and directs this new production for the stage. He also adapted and directed the hugely popular three Peppa Pig stage shows and last year’s Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom tour. Matt Lewis is lyricist, Simon Scullion is designer, Matt Haskins is lighting designer and Ian Horrocks Taylor is sound de-signer.

Octonauts and the Deep Sea Volcano Adventure is produced by live children’s show supremos Fiery Light (joint venture by Fiery Angel and Limelight Productions), the team also behind the recent tours of the three successful Peppa Pig stage shows. Their most recent – Peppa Pig’s Big Splash - is currently on tour. It has broken box office records for a pre-school show and will return to the West End for fifth consecutive Christ-mas season at the Criterion Theatre this year. 

Other Fiery Light productions include the recent tour of Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom, LazyTown Live! and Roald Dahl’s The BFG.

Director/adapter Richard Lewis said: ‘Octonauts is all about adventure and exploration which offers up a whole host of possibilities in a live environment. From the colourful characters and fantastic underwater setting to the amazing octopod where the Octonauts live, there’s great scope for a really unique, interac-tive theatre experience. We can’t wait to take fans on an adventure like never before.’

For tour information please go to


In recent years Richard Lewis has become one of the country’s leading talents in the creation of high quality children’s theatre, in particular adapting and directing shows which started their lives on television. 

Back in January 2014 when you were interviewed by the Daily Telegraph about your current theatre production Peppa Pig’s Big Splash, you mentioned that most popular children's TV programmes want a stage show. What made you choose Octonauts as suitable for a stage production?

There are a variety of things my team and I look for in projects. Perhaps first and foremost we’ve got to be excited by it. If we haven’t got that, everything else will probably fail. Octonauts is a great adventure and really suits a stage adaptation – vis-ually it’s impressive and it’s got some great characters in it. Perhaps most of all it’s got an important message to deliver: the protection of the seas and the natural envi-ronment.

How closely do you have to work with the original producers of these children’s TV programmes?

It is essential that we have a very close collaboration with the originators of these children’s TV shows. They are the original source of enthusiasm, ideas and energy for the world that they have created and they are the people to guide us on the adapta-tion process. Sometimes I refer to them as ‘The Gods’ of the Peppa world, the Octo-nauts world, etc. 

The choices they make, the characters they develop and the narra-tives they choose are all a reflection of what they hope to achieve. One of our key roles is to ‘get inside’ the world of the TV show and understand it in a truthful and fundamental way. If we fail to do this, we will never accurately represent what they hope for on stage.

Initially, they will send detailed information on the characters, the environments, the imagery and the core values of the show. Then follows a brainstorm session where we will explore some of the opportunities that the live show might be able to represent.

Armed with the ideas from that session I will attempt to distil them down to a single page synopsis that is viable in theatre terms. After some more discussion, I am able to write a first draft and then finally produce a rehearsal script. Work can then begin with set designers, lyricists, composers and a whole range of other people to start ex-ploring the ideas of the script.

TV Octonauts is a visual underwater feast and full of fast-paced adventure, sea vehi-cles and ocean creatures. How do you represent that in the stage production?

When turning TV animations into stage shows you have to be true to the core material and with Octonauts, as you say, the fast-moving adventure is a critical part of that. It is important therefore to ensure these elements are an integral part of the stage show. To do this we use a mixture of formats that include large-scale projections to represent the sea and show the scale of adventure the Octonauts are undertaking. For action in the sea we also use a mixture of black light and UV puppetry. We have cos-tume characters which accurately reflect the shape and size of the screen characters. But crucially, we make sure the costume characters have mouths that can speak di-rectly to the audience so that we can include natural interactivity with the families watching. Once you’ve decide these core principles, you then have to assemble around you a production and stage management crew that can deliver all of these as-sets.

How does it compare to the creation of the Peppa stage shows which you also adapted and directed?

All the adaptations have challenges in their own right which come from the content material. In the case of Peppa, retaining the intimacy and the childish fun was crucial to the show. It very much focuses on family values, Peppa’s relationships with her friends and other events in her immediate environment. With Octonauts the focus is on broader themes: environmental damage, saving sea life and working with others as a team to achieve a goal. Additionally, the Octonaut scenarios are set in a more complicated environment, they are either under the sea or in an area that is more technically difficult to reproduce and they can involve fast-paced stage action se-quences. You can see then that the core material of each of these TV shows is funda-mentally different in style, making each show unique in itself.

Do you prefer directing children's theatre productions to more grown up theatre pro-ductions? Why?

Perhaps the thing I like the best about directing the children’s shows is that I also get the opportunity to adapt them in the first place and then direct them in the rehearsal room afterwards. With the ‘grown up’ shows you tend to be given a script that has been written by someone else and you apply a directorial interpretation to someone else’s work. In the case of the children’s shows, you are applying your own interpreta-tion to your own adaptation. In this way, you are able to develop the ideas that you had at the script stage even further when you come to present them visually on stage.

Perhaps the other exciting thing I find about children’s shows is that there is always a level of interactivity with the audience that you don’t have with the ‘grown up’ shows. By having this connection with the audience you are able to offer a type of involve-ment that sometimes doesn’t happen with the ‘grown up’ productions. Also, as every-one tells you, children can be your harshest critics. If they are bored or unhappy they will stand up and run around or just make a noise so one of the greatest challenges is
often to find the focus for their concentration levels and ensure that they are continu-ally engaged by the show. This is a real challenge.

Do you have to use your inner child to transfer the production from screen to theatre?
It’s actually a very good question. Every adult still retains an inner child; it just de-pends on what access that adult has been able to retain to that child over the years. Sometimes they’ve been worn down by responsibility, by work, by events that happen in their life and have lost the capacity for that innocence which so reflects young chil-dren. When I was young I’m sure I was always an inquisitive child and always wanted to know why things happened, what made things worked, why was the sea blue and how do the stars sparkle….and although in my adult life those questions have changed I still retain an enquiring mind about everything around me. Hopefully also I’ve re-tained a sense of humour and imagination. 
These things together and have allowed me to look at the adaptations, the script and stage work through the eyes of a child. One of the things I find most fascinating is watching the first audiences that we have for a show because they will tell you instantly when things are not working or when things are going wrong. At those moments it’s quite possible for me to instantly un-derstand what is wrong because they have shown me how to see the project again through their eyes.

What's your next project?
Well, we continue to represent Peppa Pig Live tours worldwide and we have produc-tions in Australia, Spain, Italy and shortly in Latin America and the US. Currently I’ve just completed the first synopsis for what we call, Peppa Pig 4….but will probably be called Peppa Pig’s Surprise. Peppa Pig’s Surprise will have its world premiere in the UK in October 2015 and then will go out for a 50 week tour. We have a new production of Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom touring from March 2015. Beyond this we’re also work-ing with some other major brands on developing projects for them but nothing that we can announce yet.


To be in with a chance of winning a family ticket for four to the show of your choice, just comment below with your email address and the answer to the following question:

What is the name of The Octonauts Captain?

Terms & Conditions:

A family ticket is for four people, minimum one adult. The tickets are non-transferable. There are no cash alternatives, accommodation or travel included in this prize.

Winner announced on 10th October....Good Luck!

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