This year, keen festival-goers may have noticed something new to the program. The Canberra Theatre Centre has opened its doors as part of the festival for the production The Wider Earth. While this may seem like an odd addition to Enlighten, one glimpse at the production and you will notice it's the perfect fit for the festival.
The show tells the story of a young and naive Charles Darwin, played by Tom Conroy, long before he became one of history's most well-known scientists, when he travelled on HMS Beagle's second voyage from England to South America.
"The great thing about our way into this story is that he is a young man when we meet him," Conroy said.
"He is a man that is full of doubt, a little bit cheeky and has a bit of bravado as well."
This spin on Darwin is designed to reflect the character's dissatisfaction about where he is in life at that point in time. Conroy said Darwin's father doubted his son would equate to anything, and Darwin in turn, "through sheer will and determination, and luck and privilege, gets to go on this voyage".
This production is built off the back of impressive visual elements such as the butterflies that take over the stage, or the critically acclaimed puppetry that brings to life the strange creatures Darwin encounters as he explores the Amazon.
It's because of this that Conroy said the show is thought provoking and a "great human story that we tell with the help of a whole bunch of theatrical elements to bring that story alive".
Associate director Matt Seery said the company behind the production, Dead Puppet Society, practised a form of design-led theatre, which means that everything ranging from the sound and lighting design to the puppetry was "as equally important to the act of storytelling as words that are coming out of the actor's mouth".
"We think it's something very unique we do, it brings us a lot of joy and we hope it brings other people a lot of joy, to see human actors and inanimate objects sharing equal space and breathing life into these things in a way we don't genuinely get to see," he said.
Seery said because the production has such a strong visual element, and the lights and the audiovisual elements are such a fundamental part of the show, which is why the partnership with Enlighten Festival was a great fit.
The Wider Earth is at the Canberra Theatre Centre until Saturday. For more information or for tickets go to canberratheatrecentre.com.au.
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