After delighting and astounding audiences at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the magical stage production, It’s Dark Outside, returns to Perth at The State Theatre Centre for three nights only from September 12 – 14. We caught up with co-creator, Arielle Gray.
When Arielle Gray and her collaborators took their show, It’s Dark Outside, to the world’s biggest Fringe Festival, they found the whole experience to be nothing less than invigorating.
“It was great!” Gray exclaims. “Edinburgh’s so incredible. It’s this crazy month when there’s three dozen shows on and there’s all these people seeing five shows a day and it’s very electric. It’s a lovely place to perform at because there’s a real energy there. The audience have a lot of power because shows do well there based on word of mouth – that’s one of the strongest tools. It’s lovely when your show goes well because that means your audience is really responding to it and telling people about it, and that’s really awesome.”
Audiences also responded well when It’s Dark Outside first played here in Perth, which accounts for the excitement surrounding its all too brief encore season this weekend. A combination of live performance, puppetry, mask work and more, the production is an adventure story into the mind and the wilderness, told through the eyes of an old man suffering from the onset of dementia.
“It started out as the story of an old man wandering into the wild at sunset and the adventure that he goes on,” Gray explains. “The kind of Western-inspired adventure through the wilderness and parts of himself; that’s one way of saying it.
“When we started working on it, it was about the call of the wild. At the same time, Tim’s grandparents had dementia, which partly inspired the show. We heard about this phenomenon called Sundowning Syndrome, which happens in Alzheimer’s patients. At sunset, Alzheimer’s patients get really agitated and incidents of wandering increase a lot, and we found that really fascinating; that, when your capacity as a human has gone, when you are in that state, there’s this natural instinct to just want to escape into the wild at sunset. We found it really compelling as an idea and that became our central image – just an old man wandering into the wild at sunset.”
Despite its potentially grim subject matter, Gray takes pains to point out that the play is by no means a downer. “As a piece, it’s not a docudrama about Alzheimer’s or anything like that – it’s a visual adventure. We didn’t want to get bogged down in the depressing nature of Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s from the perspective of the old man and he really is going on this strange adventure and reliving parts of his old life that are funny, or full of life and joy. There are parts of the show that are funny or silly or lovely and then there are parts that are a little bit more sad. But we like to explore things through joy and fun and not just focusing on the sad. We really looked for those moments of lightness when we were working on it and, at its heart, it’s an adventure.”
Head here for session times and tickets to It’s Dark Outside.