October Grab Bag

Tan's sculpture for 'Hansel and Gretel' retold by Philip Pullman.

Tan’s sculpture for ‘Hansel and Gretel’ retold by Philip Pullman.

Because our show Cabinets of Kismet was inspired by him, I’m going to bring in the artist Shaun Tan as the subject of this month’s grab bag. A few beautiful, thought-provoking and wise items to view or listen to:

1. Shaun Tan theater! Featherwight Theatre is  a company of dancers and theater makers from England who presented The Red Tree  at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year. It was a beautiful adaptation, with many innovative and surprising ways of bringing Tan’s images and words to life. You can see a video and hear some of the original music on their website.

2. More Shaun Tan theater! Clearly there is consensus that Tan’s stories are compelling on the page and even more compelling when brought to life by actors, dancers and puppets. Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, from Fremantle Australia, recently performed an adaptation of Tales from Outer Suburbia, a collection of Tan’s short stories.

3. A new book! Tan’s latest picture book, Rules of Summer was just published in Australia. A story of two brothers and the rules they learn, the book pairs simple phrases (‘Never leave a red sock on a clothesline’) with surreal oil paintings that provoke questions and ideas.

4. An interview about Rules of Summer is available to see here. Tan talks about his inspiration, and process in creating the book, as well as principles of storytelling and bookmaking in general.

5. Tan’s other new book is actually in German. Philip Pullman, the celebrated fantasy author, published a collection last year of his favorite fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. His version of the stories has now been translated into German, illustrated with amazing sculptures by Tan. You can see photos of some of them and learn a little more about why he chose to create sculptures rather than paintings, here.

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