Mark Arends: Something Very Far Away

MARK Arends

In case you haven’t heard, a puppet show from very far away is coming toEsplanade’s Octoburst! this year.

All the way from the UK, Something Very Far Away is a puppet show with a difference.

Instead of a Punch & Judy mixup, this sophisticated piece of theatre relies on a mix of music and images for its storytelling. It even has video cameras shooting the puppets live so that the audience has a choice of either watching the action on a big screen or peering intimately at the puppeeters hard at work in the foreground. It is been described as “35 of the most charming and touching minutes I’ve spent in a theatre”.

Mark Arends wrote, directed and scored Something Very Far Away.

Born in Liverpool, Mark is a theatre-maker and performer whose credits includes playing Winston Smith in Headlong’s critically acclaimed production of 1984 and the role of Proteus in The Two Gentlemen Of Verona for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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Mark, who now lives in London and Paris, took some time to share with Little Day Out about the genesis of Something Very Far Away, tackling the difficult issue of loss, and why audiences should catch this acclaimed production when it plays in Singapore from 3 to 6 October at Octoburst! 2014 – A Children’s Festival.

MARK Arends

Little Day Out: Can you give us a quick introduction to what Something Very Far Away is about?

Mark Arends: Something Very Far Away is a play about love, loss, space and time. Told through puppetry, animation and music.

LDO: What inspired the creation of Something Very Far Away?

Mark: I was at a point where I wanted to test myself. To try something different. And was then fortunate enough to meet Matthew [Robins] who I think felt same. We then put together a team of similarly minded people to collaborate and perform with us. This show is the result of that collaboration.

Editor’s note: Matthew Robins is the puppet and animation designer for Something Very Far Away.

LDO: Why did you choose to use puppets to present Something Very Far Away?

Mark: Puppets are great for conveying story and emotion. I find I prefer watching puppets to actors as they are more neutral and come without the baggage of having perhaps seen them in previous plays or films. As an audience member you have to work a bit harder with puppets, invest more of yourself and transfer some of your own personality and life experience on to the characters you’re watching.

LDO: What makes Something Very Far Away different from other puppet shows?

Mark: I guess it’s a bit different in that we use a variety of puppetry styles and that we’re simultaneously making a film whilst performing a piece of theatre.

LDO: Are there any challenges in staging Something Very Far Away?

Mark: As there is a lot going on with cameras, preparing scenes and setting up shots the main challenge was to try and choreograph both the film and the puppeteers journeys in a way that the story- told through only images and music- would always be clear.

LDO: Something Very Far Away deals with loss and death. Why did you feel compelled to tackle this subject matter in a children’s play?

Mark: It’s a difficult yet hugely important conversation that all parents will have at some point with their children. Theatre, film and literature can help open up those discussions.

LDO: Will the performance at the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay be the first time Something Very Far Away is staged out of the UK?

Mark: No, we’ve also performed in Belgium and France but it is the first time we are in Asia.

LDO: Do you think Something Very Far Away will translate well to audiences outside the UK?

Mark: I think it translates well to an international audience as it doesn’t rely on text or dialogue and the themes of the piece are things that effect us all, regardless of what county we are from.

LDO: What do you hope audiences will take away from Something Very Far Away?

Mark: I guess my job is to make sure the audience leave the theatre feeling moved, entertained and hopefully thinking differently about something.

LDO: Why should parents bring their children to watch Something Very Far Away?

Mark: It’s a show which has been put together with a lot of heart from all of the team. It will hopefully make you laugh, or cry, or both. We’re all really proud of it and are overjoyed to be bringing it to Singapore for Octoburst! – A Children’s Festival.

Robert Day

EVENT DETAILS: SOMETHING VERY FAR AWAY

Kepler is an ordinary man who loves two things beyond all others: the cosmos and his wife Tomasina. After a sudden and tragic loss, he looks to the stars for answers and journeys deep into space to keep the thing most precious to him alive.

Something Very Far Away is a moving tale of love, loss, space and time that uses puppetry, music, sound and live animation to create a unique and beautiful performance that will enchant children and adults alike.

Written, Directed and Original Score by Mark Arends
Puppets, Design and Animation by Matthew Robins

Dates / Times:
3 Oct, Fri, 2 pm & 5 pm
4 Oct, Sat, 10 am, 12 pm & 5 pm
5 Oct, Sun, 10 am, 12 pm & 5 pm
6 Oct, Mon, 10 am & 5 pm

Venue: Esplanade Recital Studio
Price: Standard Ticket – $28; Package of 4 – $96
Duration: 35 minutes

Find out about the other exciting, free and ticketed programmes taking place at Esplanade from 3 to 6 October as part of Octoburst! 2014 – A Children’s Festival.

Take part in our Something Very Far Away Ticket Giveaway.

Now on till 28 September 2014.

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