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Page to screen to stage for Babe

Babe, The Sheep-Pig is at the Wycombe Swan from Monday, March 20 - Wednesday, March 22

David Lee

David Lee

Page to screen to stage for Babe

The nation’s favourite fictional farmyard animal will be brought to life on the stage with the help of some eye-catching puppetry.

Adapted from Dick King-Smith’s much-loved children’s novel, Babe, The Sheep-Pig tells the story of a pig who dreams of herding sheep.

When Babe arrives at Hogget’s Farm he is taken in by the trusty sheepdog Fly and discovers a hidden talent for herding. But can a small pig make it in a dog’s world, and when his farmyard animals are in trouble can Babe save the day?

This production, presented by Polka Theatre and Tom O’Connell Productions, sees many of the farmyard animals brought to life by hand-crafted puppets.

Puppetry director Matthew Forbes has been tasked with translating the hustle and bustle of farmyard life onto to the stage.

He says: “Puppetry is a very ego-less and selfless style of performance. As an actor on stage you normally want people to look at you – you want them to look at the object in your hands.

“One of the biggest challenges therefore is to get our puppeteers to disappear.

“We don’t hide them behind the screen, they’re always visible, but the attention and focus they give to the puppet directs the audience’s eyes to the puppets, so the puppeteer in effect vanishes in to the background, and we watch the puppet.”

This can take a long time to master, Matthew says, especially when some of the animals require two or three puppeteers to handle them.

But while this production offers a different take to the 1995 Oscar-winning film Babe, Matthew says the heart-warming tale of bravery, adventure and friendship will still shine through.

“Our little pig has big dreams, he wants to be a sheepdog, he’s told he can’t be but he perseveres, keeps trying and doesn’t give up,” Matthew said. “This is an important moral that we should all remember, when we put our minds to it and try we can do anything.”

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