Puppy play: New Owner premieres at Awesome International Arts Festival


Arielle Gray and Bernie.
Arielle Gray and Bernie.

PREPARATION has been the key for The Last Great Hunt performers and co-creators Arielle Gray and Tim Watts when it comes to their latest production New Owner.

The local independent theatre company was chosen to present the show, for ages seven years and older, at this year’s Awesome International Arts Festival for Bright Young Things.

The couple was also booked for a tour of another show, It’s Dark Outside, to South Korea just days before their production week was set to begin.

“We first developed the show in May 2015 for a week-and-a-half,” Gray said from Seoul.

“Then a year later, we spent three-and-a-half weeks at a residency at the Kinosaki Arts Centre in Japan, plus we have had three weeks to work on it in the lead-up to this tour so we have had a lot of time to develop the themes, style, narrative, puppets and set.

“Having said that, Tim is animating in the hotel room in Seoul and we also brought the puppets with us to rehearse.”

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It was while on another tour of It’s Dark Outside when Gray and Watts first had the idea for New Owner, which is a story of the adventures and experiences a dog, Bernie, has throughout his lifetime, told from the dog’s perspective, using puppets, animation and masks.

“We have a scene in It’s Dark Outside where a dog (a puppet made of fluff) is reunited with his owner and Snowy (the dog) is always a hot favourite with audiences the world over,” Gray said.

“We started thinking about dogs and how if you adopt one, you have no way of knowing what experiences or adventures your pet has had prior to coming into your family.

“So we decided to tell that story.”

Gray plays many human characters in the show and puppeteers one of the dogs.

She said they chose a dog, rather than any other animal, for their unwavering loyalty, innocence, cheekiness and adorable appearance.

“I hope audiences of all ages go on a journey with the show,” she said.

“I hope they think about the importance of love, friendship and companionship, and I hope they leave seeing things a little more from a dog’s perspective.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: New Owner

Where: Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts

When: October 1 to 16

Tickets: www.awesomearts.com