Scene from Hag. Picture by Richard Davenport.
LOST AT SEA
WE spoke to Bonnie Mitchell, a producer of Hag — which is being performed at Quay Arts, Newport, next Saturday, August 31.
Q. Tell us about your new show,Hag:
A. "It’s a re-imagining of one of Slavic folklore’s most extraordinary characters, the child-eating hag-witch Baba Yaga, and a girl called Lisa, who crosses her path."
Q. What inspired the show?:
A. "When we first came together as The Wrong Crowd, there was a pool of stories we both loved and were interested in exploring.
One was a Baba Yaga story usually known as Vasilisa the Wise and we knew there were also hundreds of other stories that featured Baba Yaga across Slavic folklore.
This seemed really fascinating, so we started to find and read those other stories and we’ve ended up making a show inspired by a number of them, which fuses different aspects and elements from our own imaginations as well. "
Q. What should people expect?:
A. "As a company we make visually inventive work with strong stories at their heart. We love to fuse together live action, music, song and puppetry, with some dark humour thrown in, and want an audience to feel their imaginations have had a work out."
The main character, Baba Yaga, is a sinister, child-eating monster, what made you choose her as as a central character?:
"She is a wonderfully ambiguous character and quite unlike the two-dimensional witches in the stories we grew up with. She is a destroyer but also a teacher and we wanted to explore what it would be like for her to become the storyteller in her own tale. Hags and witches have a pretty bad press in popular culture and we wanted to explore a little of why she is such an important force to respect and celebrate in all her fierce hideousness."
Q. Tell us why you use puppetry in shows aimed at adults and older children?:
A. Puppetry is an amazing tool in theatre and we feel passionately it should be taken seriously as a form in adult theatre, which is an argument that many companies have been making for years, with powerful and convincing work."
Q. What will people take away with them?:
A. "Baba Yaga could be thought of as representing those experiences in life that come out of the blue and whip the rug out from under your feet. We’ll probably all have them at some point during our lives and the show might speak to those experiences for people."