Meet The Whirlybird Creative Team!

Eco Drama are delighted to launch our brand new production The Whirlybird, with a full tour reaching nurseries, schools, theatres and community venues across Scotland in March and April, including dates in the Puppet Animation Festival 2019, and touring in a van run on bio diesel!

We chatted to some of the creative team about the process of devising the show, which took place in collaboration with Platform arts centre and with funding from Creative Scotland.

Emily Reid is Eco Drama’s Artistic Director and the Director and Co-Deviser for The Whirlybird. Here she tells us a little bit more about her time bringing the Whirlybird to life.

Q: Tell us about your job and what you like about it?

My job is to direct and co-devise the production and keep the process running smoothly from start to finish. I bring in the initial ideas and stimulus to drive the development and direction of the piece, and set up a collaborative environment for each member of the creative team to input into the process. The idea for The Whirlybird has been in my head for about 5 years now, and so getting to finally realise the vision feels really exciting. I really enjoy working alongside such a talented creative team, which for this production includes actor/devisor Caroline Mathison, dancer/devisor Beth Kovarik, composer Greg Sinclair and set designer Claire Halleran.  I’m constantly in awe of their talents and this inspires me every day!

Q: What is the best bit about being the director/devisor for The Whirlybird?

This is the first time Eco Drama has worked with a composer on one of our productions. I’m really enjoying seeing the characters and action come to life with a musical underscore. It is also the first production we have created completely without text, instead telling the tale through music, movement, puppetry, bird song, and a little bit of bird language.

Q: What unexpected thing have you learned about birds since starting the process?

I’m amazed by the vast display of sounds that birds make. Bird watching is exciting, but bird ‘listening’ opens up a whole other world!

Q: What do you think people will like most about The Whirlybird?

The music, characters, and all of the things that spin!

 

Greg Sinclair is a composer and cellist. He wrote the music for The Whirlybird and played cello for the show’s soundtrack.

Q: Tell us about your job and what you like about it?

I am a freelance composer, cellist and performance artist so my job is pretty varied. Sometimes I work with other companies such as Eco Drama to compose music for their theatre productions. Other times I perform in other companies work. I also make my own performance work.

Q: What has been the best bit about creating the score for The Whirlybird?

The music feels quite important. As the two characters don’t speak (well not in English) the music feels like it really helps to convert the story and the emotions. I’ve really enjoyed finding inspiration in birdsongs.

Q: What unexpected thing have you learned about birds since starting the process?

Every single bird species is so unique and fascinating. And last week I saw a woodpecker in the park near my house! That’s the first time I’ve ever seen one. I’ve definitely become more aware of watching and listening to birds since starting work on The Whirlybird.

Q: What do you think people will like most about The Whirlybird?

It is very funny. And I think that humour will work really well to pull people into the fact that the story has a lot of heart. I think people will enjoy seeing a story which celebrates difference and uniqueness.

Photo credit – Jassy Earl

 

Claire Halleran is a leading Set and Costume Designer, and she designed the beautiful bird house set, bird costumes and puppets in the show.

Q: Tell us about your job and what you like about it?

My job is to make the set of the show look good and help tell our story by putting all the right things in it for the characters to use while they tell the story. Every day is different and interesting.

Q: What is the best bit about creating the set and costumes for The Whirlybird?

It is fun and watching the characters come to life is great.

Q: What unexpected thing have you learned about birds since starting the process?

How many different birds exist and how different they all look and sound.

Q: What do you think people will like most about The Whirlybird?

The songs and the bird dance.

 

Caroline Mathison is a Performer and Co-Devisor in The Whirlybird production and plays the title role!

Q: Tell us about your job and what you like about it?

I love the freedom, variety, and creativity of being a performer. But I particularly love this kind of work which connects with young audiences through a shared sense of fun and wonder and can spark imagination and ideas.

Q: What is the best bit about your role in The Whirlybird?

It’s really fun and challenging to create a totally unique bird with its own quirky characteristics. The Whirlybird is also quite silly, and I love silliness!

Q: What unexpected thing have you learned about birds since starting the process?

How playful and full of personality they are. I recently saw a clip of a crow using a food lid to sledge, and it reminded me of a camping trip when we could clearly hear a bird repeatedly sliding down the roof of the tent while we were inside. We didn’t understand what it was doing at the time but now I realise it was just having fun!

Q: What do you think people will like most about The Whirlybird?

I think people will enjoy how funny and delightful it is, with its visual and musical style. I hope audiences feel like they get to know Bird and Whirlybird, and their place in the fascinating world of birds and wonderful nature as a whole.

 

Beth Kovarik is an Actor , Dancer and Co-Devisor in The Whirlybird production, who performs the role of Bird.

Q: Tell us about your job and what you like about it?

I play “Bird” in The Whirlybird. The best part of my job is having fun playing on stage with Caroline who is the Whirlybird, and being able to fly and see how the wee ones react to the show!

Q: What is the best bit about your role in The Whirlybird?

The best part about being Bird is how kind and gentle she is and also how much joy she finds in everything, especially flying.

Q: What unexpected thing have you learned about birds since starting the process?

The most unexpected thing I’ve learned about birds during this process has been the huge range of sounds they make!  They can sound like all different kinds of animals and things. The Lyrebird, in particular, can sound exactly like anything it hears including the shutter noise of a camera lens!!!

Q: What do you think people will like most about The Whirlybird?

The thing I think people will like most about the Whirlybird is how lovable the characters are and particularly how funny and unique the Whirlybird is.

 

Camilla O’Neill is the Stage Manager for The Whirlybird. She creates the set from scratch and makes sure everything runs smoothly for each performance.

Q: Tell us about your job and what you like about it?

I look after the set and props and playback all the music cues. I enjoy being part of the show and get to watch it every day!

Q: What is the best bit about working as Stage Manager for The Whirlybird?

One of the best things is seeing the audience laugh and smile as they watch the show.

Q: What unexpected thing have you learned about birds since starting the process?

That birds can’t automatically fly and that they have to try to learn how to do it.

Q: What do you think people will like most about The Whirlybird?

The colours of the costumes, set and props. Seeing the sycamore seeds whirl down from high.

The Whirlybird

 

 

The Whirlybird Mini Documentary from Eco Drama on Vimeo.