Awesome healing power of laughter in Ruby’s Wish at Studio Underground

Holly Austin and Adriano Cappelletta in Ruby’s Wish.
Holly Austin and Adriano Cappelletta in Ruby’s Wish.

WORKING for 10 years as a Captain Starlight for Starlight Children’s Foundation has given 2003 NIDA graduate Adriano Cappelletta a front-row seat to children and their families dealing with an intense personal experience.

It inspired Cappelletta, who grew up in Perth, fellow NIDA graduate Holly Austin and director Jo Turner to create production Ruby’s Wish, a work about the power of imagination, play and laughter to heal.

“It started with the idea of a little girl who meets a clown doctor that introduces her to the world of imagination as a way to get through her difficulty and illness,” Cappelletta said.

“We never set out to make a show for children and I don’t see it as a show just for children, even though it’s part of a children’s festival (Awesome International Arts Festival for Bright Young Things) for the Perth season.

“But it is a show young people will like because it’s about a seven-year-old girl and we see the world through her eyes; it’s powerful.”

The team began developing the production in 2014, working on live action, animation, puppetry and sound.

“We got a young Sydney inventor to create a jacket, so Holly as the clown doctor can loop her voice wirelessly to make a big jazz band and she beatboxes,” Cappelletta said.

“Sound is an incredible character in this show.”

While Ruby is played by two different puppets, a smaller puppet when she feels sick and bigger puppet when she feels ok, Cappelletta’s main role is of her father Frank, based on many fathers he has watched struggle during their child’s illness.

“He doesn’t believe laughter can heal and is just focused on trying to get her better,” he said.

“For parents, their whole world is turned upside down when their child is sick and I really wanted to honour that journey with this dad.

“It may sound weird being a children’s show about a little girl being sick, but the beauty of this show is that kids can identify with Ruby and her imaginative journey and parents can identify with the journey of that parent. We often have moments where the kids are laughing but the parents are crying or really moved because they can see the bittersweetness in the show. It works on a lot of different levels.”


What: Ruby’s Wish

Where: Studio Underground

When: October 1 to 12