Photo by Suzi Corker

5 Minutes with Peter Glanville | The Everywhere Bear

We spoke to The Everywhere Bear director and co-adaptor Peter Glanville about how he brought Julia Donaldson and Rebecca’s Cobb’s charming story to life for the stage.

Describe The Everywhere Bear in three words.

A whirlwind journey.

What is it about The Everywhere Bear that makes it work so well for the stage?

It is a story and a world that children can relate to, initially set in a classroom and ending in a library. In between we have a wonderful adventure across land, sea and sky. It is also an emotional story, exploring important aspects of friendship, loss and reunion.

Why do you think puppets work so well to tell this story?

I always wanted the central character of the bear to remain a toy throughout. This was important to me, allowing the audience the same space to invest in the bear as the children in the story do. The story also has children, a seagull, a fish and a cat. Puppets are a lovely way of bringing these to life. There are also several adult characters including the teacher and the librarian, so I had to find strong actor/puppeteers who could also sing.

Photo by Suzi Corker

You co-adapted the show with Julian Butler who wrote the music and lyrics. How do you think the music adds to the show?

Julian’s music is a key element to the show, with songs and a soundtrack pretty much throughout. These help to drive the narrative, and give us time to explore some of the themes in more detail. I also wanted the story to have a strong non-verbal storytelling aspect and the music helps guide the atmosphere of these moments without dictating what the audience should feel.

How did you go about adapting Julia Donaldson’s book for the stage?

Initially I had particular moments and images that resonated with me… These key moments were explored in our research work, at least one year before rehearsals. I then worked closely with puppet maker Jan Zalud, to decide on which characters should be represented by puppets, and what their style and functionality would be. Julian and I then worked very closely, storyboarding the piece and pinpointing moments for songs, to drive the storytelling. With the final rehearsal period, the creativity of the puppeteers helped bring many of the characters to 3D life in a way I hadn’t imagined. Laura McEwen also created a beautiful, slightly abstract set that was able to be transformed into a range of different environments.

Photo by Suzi Corker

What do you love about working in children’s theatre?

I think that children should have the best possible theatrical experience – one that respects their emotions and perceptions, and isn’t diluted because they are younger. With this production, we have brought together a hugely talented creative team to produce a world-class theatre experience. I love watching an audience of children engrossed in the story, enjoying the imagery, stimulating their imaginations with their belief in the life of the puppets, and hopefully wanting to chat about the show afterwards.

And finally, if you could go on an adventure to anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I’ve never been to the Galapagos Islands. I would love to travel there, so many extraordinary animals to see – can you arrange a ticket for me?

The Everywhere Bear is on at Little Angel Theatre until 11 November. For more information and tickets, click here.