One of my first memories of going to the theatre is a trip my primary school took to see a production of The Twits. I’m not sure where or by what company, but I vividly remember having a blast! Sitting there with a small pot of ice-cream, laughing uncontrollably at the gruesome couple and the shenanigans within the Roald Dahl classic story, I began my love affair with live theatre.
It was therefore extremely exciting for me to be involved in producing, writing music for and performing in The Twits with Avant Cymru. Hopefully we could create an experience similar to mine for the next generation to come.
What a year of Roald Dahl we have all had. We were extremely excited to be asked to perform The Twits as part of a children’s literature festival at Garth Olwg with the brilliant mind of Jac Ifan Moore on board to direct. The creative team began the process by deciding we would not shy away from the darker themes of the story. We all feel it is incredibly important to trust young audiences with these themes and not try to protect them as theatre is the safe place where our children can explore difficult ideas and learn how to overcome problems.
The musical themes running throughout the play were mainly of Latin influence, born out of the decision that the Mugglewhumps and the Rolly-polly bird were from the Amazon jungle, whilst the Gypsy style was added to accentuated the Twits off-beat, alternative lifestyle. A large collection of instruments were used to create different locations and moods. For example, an accordion was used to create the depressing circus mood of the Mugglewhumps training scenes, Flamenco guitar for the Rolly-Polly bird, Djembe drumming for the revolution, soaring flute for the birds and looped vocal sounds for the jungle effects.
The set and props were created to give the impression of ‘hand-made’ as if it was part of a big storytelling experience. We created the tree and the cage out of bamboo and the birds and many props out of paper origami (which looked beautiful). The stylised aesthetic, along with the clowning/commedia physicality of the performances really created a fantastically visual and wacky experience perfect for a young audience.
Through the creative process and exploration of the text, the story turned into a moral tale about revolution and socialism. It became about the Mugglewhumps rising up against their oppressors and collectively, with the other animals, overthrowing the dictators in a collaborative way. This culminated in a revolution scene which Jac Moore co-ordinated and built into the narrative without taking away any of the original charm of the book.
This project has been a creative delight to work on, with the variety of music and performance styles it was a joy to perform and incredibly satisfying seeing the faces of the engrossed children who came to see it.
Directed By Jac Ifan Moore
Produced by Avant Cymru , in collaboration with RCT Theatres. Sponsored by Big Lottery and Literature Wales.
Performers included Mr Twit – Matthew Bool, Mrs Twit – Douglas Gray, Mr Muggle Wump – Phillip Jones, Mrs Muggle Wump – Rachel Pedley Miller and The Roly Poly Bird – Darius Nash