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Windmill Theatre on the road again with Baba Yaga


South Australia’s Windmill Theatre Company will tour China next month with the Helpmann Award-nominated children’s show Baba Yaga, before taking on the rest of the world.

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Baba Yaga, a new take on an old Russian folk tale which was co-produced with Scottish theatre company Imaginate, will be presented in Beijing, Hangzhou and Xi’an before heading to the Taipei Children’s Art Festival in Taiwan.

It will be Windmill’s fifth visit to China and first trip to Taiwan.

Company executive producer Kaye Weeks says it keeps returning because of the positive response from Chinese audiences.

“I think they just love the pretty inventive, fun and imaginative way we tell stories,” she says.

“And the very modern technologies and modern storytelling devices that we use… [which is] probably as opposed to what has been in China for many years, which is fairly traditional storytelling.”

Windmill Theatre Company presented Baba Yaga at the Queen’s Theatre in Adelaide during this year’s Adelaide Festival, and the show was last week announced as a 2019 nominee for Best Presentation for Children and Young People in the prestigious Helpmann Awards.

It follows Vaselina, who lives a quiet life as a receptionist in a high-rise apartment building until she is forced to confront an eccentric and noisy resident.

Baba Yaga has got beautiful sets and lighting and costume design and music,” Weeks says.

“We commission writers to create new work for us. So it’s not existing scripts; it’s all new Australian stories that we’re showcasing and they’re kind of just as much fun for the adults in the audience as they are for the kids, so they resonate with family audiences across the globe.”

After China, Baba Yaga will travel to Kristiansand in Norway in September for the annual event of the international association of theatre for children and young people (ASSITEJ). It is one of 10 productions – and the only Australian show – being showcased at the European gathering.

Baba Yaga will finish 2019 with a six-week trip around the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Windmill Theatre’s latest early childhood production, Beep, will also spend much of the next year on the road. Following a season at Adelaide’s DreamBIG Children’s Festival last month, it will tour nationally before heading to the United States and Canada for three months at the beginning of 2020.

The company has previously toured North America with GrugBig Bad Wolf and Grug and the Rainbow.

Weeks says it has been exciting to steadily grow the touring activity over the last few years.

“Touring our works allows us to create valuable employment opportunities for Australian artists and gives children from all over the word the opportunity to experience our unique South Australian style of storytelling.”

Back on home soil, Windmill Theatre Company will bring Girl Asleep – a coming-of-age play that went on to be turned into a film – back to the Adelaide Festival Centre in September.

This article was first published on The Lead.

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