Lung Ha's Around the World in 80 Days
Interview with Maria Oller, artistic director of Lung Ha's
What inspired you to take on Around the World in 80 Days?
I wanted to give the company members a chance to do a classic play. Around the World in 80 Days came to mind as a story that is rarely produced for the stage, and is funny, with lots of characters. I contacted Finnish playwright Bengt Ahlfors who has written a stage version and he generously gave us free rein to adapt his script.
How did your collaboration with Douglas Maxwell come about?
I was thinking of who would have the right spirit for an adventure piece and who would know and understand Lung Ha’s well enough to adapt the script. Douglas was my first choice: he has a brilliant sense of humour.
Is this Lung Ha’s most ambitious show to date?
As a sole Lung Ha’s production it is probably the most ambitious. The company members are going from strength to strength with the help of choreographer Christine Devaney, composer and musician Pete Vilk and a great set by Becky Minto.
Do you think theatre is a particularly rich medium with which to engage people with learning difficulties?
Definitely. Theatre not only teaches you communication and raises your confidence it also gives you a chance to understand other people by creating characters and in this case it is also a journey back in time. Around the World in 80 Days was an extremely modern novel when it was published. It was science fiction to travel around the world and even passports were a new thing at the time.
What have been the highlights of your career with Lung Ha’s?
Maybe when Lung Ha’s members were awarded the Cats Award for the Best ensemble for Huxley’s Lab together with the Grid Iron cast. This meant so much to them and has had a long-term effect on their work.
And finally … If you were to travel around the world in 80 days where would you most like to stop off?
It would be at our family sauna in Finland. You need a good sauna if you are travelling around the world. I am a Finn after all …
Around the World in 80 Days, Platform, Glasgow, Thu 31 Mar & Fri 1 Apr; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 6 & Thu 7 Apr.