The carpark at Avalon Studios is already full as the cast, crew and Capital E team meet in the foyer for the first day of development of the 2018 National Theatre for Children junior show – Odd One Out!
As we walk through Avalon Studios to our temporary home of Studio 9, we get a sneak peek at some of the magic being created. We pass studios busy with action, a large workshop, and a giant stack of fake corn stems! Avalon Studios launched in 1975, purpose-built for TVNZ. Over the years it’s been the home to the most iconic New Zealand television productions, Country Calendar, Ready to Roll, Fair Go, What Now, Dancing with the Stars were all filmed here. Walking through the building, you can sense that this place is packed with an amazing history. It’s part of the creative fabric of Wellington with top-of-the-line infrastructure, equipment, and team working on local and international movies and television.
Introductions are held over morning tea, most of this team will work together well into 2018, so a coffee and a muffin is a great way to get to know each other.
Created (and directed) by Jo and Thomas from Barbarian, Odd One Out is a story of three curious characters that live a busy life in a world where everything has a purpose and a place… until one-day things start to change. Suddenly their world is full of things that don’t belong anywhere! What will the creatures do about the odd one out? It’s a story of acceptance, welcoming new people, being kind, and lots of other great messages for young kids.
Creative development of Odd One Out (affectionately known as OOO in the Capital E office) will last three weeks at Avalon Studios. The creators and Capital E already held a couple of workshop days, testing ideas with groups of children to see what resonates and entertains them. Now, the creators and actors will work through the plot, movement, and vocalisations, while lighting, sound, set, and the costumes are created at the same time.
The days begin with team building and warm-up exercises, as well as stretching. The show is filled with physical comedy and lots of movement, so a good stretch is essential!
On Friday, the last day of week one, the actors work through the action and pace of one particular scene. While they jump, dance, and dash around the set, one of the director’s talks to Tony, the co-designer and builder. The stage manager, Kirsty is setting up a camera to record the work from that morning. She does this so that the directors and actors can see what has worked well and what hasn’t and just as a reference for what has been tried before. In the background, Owen, the co-designer moves various props and items around to set up for the complete run through later in the day. It’s a busy studio, with each member of the team working hard on their part of the show, it’s all about teamwork to pull the various parts together to create a fantastic show. It feels like chaos, but when the crew sit down to watch a quick run through of the scene, it’s clear how each person’s work contributes to the scene.
Over the next couple of weeks, the actors and directors will continue to work through each scene, the directors will work with the builders and designers on the set, lighting and sound, and in the end, it will all come together to make for a fantastically odd theatre show for young children.