NNT Fringe Season Interview: The Adventure of Anne Marie du Bourbon

It’s the final week of term, which means it’s time for the final show of the Nottingham New Theatre’s Fringe season. This week, Impact Arts joins Professor Harry Lavelle, a character in the musical puppet show The Adventures of Anne Marie du Bourbon, written by Chris Trueman and Jack Solloway, directed by Chris Trueman, and produced by Lara Cowler.

Firstly, can you give me a brief plot summary of ‘The Adventures…’?

It all stems from a diary I discovered in Mauritius. Anne Marie du Bourbon was a real person; she lived, she breathed, and then she died (as people do), and it is widely believed she died before her years of a lung defect, aged only twenty-five. Upon discovering her fatal illness, Anne Marie embarked on a journey to find a cure: the Funky Fruit of Fine Fettle. What our show- or lecture as I prefer to think of it- reveals is this story of the discovery of said Funky Fruit and the various obstacles Anne Marie encountered on her journey to find it.

Now this play is a musical puppet show, a first for the Nottingham New Theatre. So what is it about this genre that you feel is appropriate for student theatre?

I don’t feel traditional forms of naturalism can express the intensity and vibrancy that life often thrusts upon us. I have interpreted Anne’s story as a musical because the music leaps from the pages of her diary. Why puppetry you ask? We’re using puppetry because it’s colourful and expressive, and allows for an immersive experience in the telling of this story.

Tell us a bit about the writing process

One always has to be careful with historical fiction. It’s so difficult to see where the boundary lies between what you can invent and what you keep true to the original source. My purpose with this play is not only to entertain but to educate, so I was very keen to see that all aspects of the diary I believed relevant made it through to the final piece. In terms of scripting, I found it necessary to add the voices of the people and creatures Anne meets on her journey and to represent this journey visually through puppetry. The students have had their own hand in the crafting of the characters also, specifically the dialects and accents. Of course in Hazula Bazula they speak a language far too rich and expressive for our commercial tongue, so there had to be an element of translation which the students have devised.

What about the music, is it all original and performed by the actors?

We have two original songs in the show, written by the talented Tom Moore and Emilie Brittain:a pirate sea shanty and soul ballad. The play also features music by David Bowie, Michael Jackson and a song from the popular West End musical Wicked, so there’s a nice blend between originality and accessibility which we felt was important.

Finally, if you could sum up ‘The Adventures’ in one sentence to encourage people to come and see the show, what would that be?

It is the perfect blend between existential angst and The Muppets; a bold new vision of history (with puppets!)

 Charlotte Van Rhee

‘The Adventures of Anne Marie du Bourbon’ is on at 7:30pm on Sunday 7th and Monday 8th December in the Nottingham New Theatre’s Studio A, with a matinee performance at 2:30pm on the Sunday. For tickets, click here.

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