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‘A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings’ flies to Surrey with puppets, cameras

Family-friendly Irish play tells the story of an angel who has fallen to earth
Karen McCartney and Magnus Halligan in “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” written and directed by Dan Colley, of Ireland. (Contributed photo)

With two show times Saturday, April 6, a darkly comic tale from Ireland is coming to Surrey in a multimedia show aimed at families with kids aged eight and up.

Dan Colley’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” a stage adaptation of a 1968 story written by Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is about an angel who has fallen to earth and the townsfolk who don’t know what to do with him.

The fable “comes to life with dark humour, charming heartfelt emotion, and all its wonderful weirdness,” an event advisory promises.

A pair of stagings, in Surrey Arts Centre’s Studio Theatre at 4 and 7 p.m., are part of Surrey SPARK Stages, a year-round performance series that has replaced the city’s annual children’s festival. Tickets range from $16 to $21 on, or call the arts centre box office, 604-501-5566.

Currently touring B.C., Riverbank Arts Centre’s award-winning production involves props, puppets, painted backdrops, a loop pedal for effects, live music and small handheld cameras for closer looks at the characters.

“We’re almost making a crude kind of movie live on stage that starts to build and build in intensity,” Colley explains in a news release sent by Surrey Civic Theatres, which presents SPARKS Stages shows. “And I think we capture some of the strange ambiguity of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s original story.”

CLICK HERE to watch a show promo video on Youtube.

Magnus Halligan in “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” written and directed by Dan Colley, of Ireland. (Contributed photo)

Colley says the show’s darker humour appeals to the inner eight-year-old in all of us.

“I first got the idea for the show when I read the short story,” notes Colley, who is based in Dublin. “I thought it was so rich and strange and really funny in a dark sort of way and I thought this would make a really good piece of theatre.”

Pre-show, ticket-holders are urged to arrive early to make a puppet and see it come to life on screen with film installation artist, Jesse Napier, in Surrey Arts Centre’s lobby.

A director and writer for theatre and film, Colley is said to specialize in “ensemble-devised theatre, theatre for young audiences, comedy, community participation, puppetry and outdoor spectacle,” according to a bio.

Surrey SPARK Stages aims to offer “spectacular performing arts events and performances for kids and their families throughout the year. We introduce young people to the magic of the performing arts and believe the performing arts can change lives by impacting how people see the world and their place within it.”

Later this spring, a SPARK Weekend of Performing Arts for Kids is planned May 24-26 at Surrey Arts Centre with shows including “Dino-Light” from Lightwire Theater in the U.S., “Robot Song” Australia’s Arena Theatre, Irish production “The Libravian” and more. Visit the website for show details and tickets.

Also coming to the arts centre’s Studio Theatre is “Himmat,” April 18-20. Gavan Cheema’s “humorous and heartwarming” play, in Punjabi and English, “delves into the world of a father and daughter born generations and miles apart.” The Theatre Conspiracy production is set in Surrey Memorial Hospital and told through flashbacks.

Following that is “Body Parts,” April 26-27 at Surrey Arts Centre’s Studio Theatre. The play is billed as “a hilarious one-woman show from veteran artist Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg in which she tries to perform her show but gets comically side-tracked by her own body issues.”

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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