We chatted to Maia about directing and designing the puppets for There’s a Rang-Tan in My Bedroom and Other Stories for the Little Angel Theatre.

(c)Ellie Kurttz

Hi Maia, could you explain what There’s a Rang-Tan in My Bedroom & Other stories is about? There’s a Rang-Tan in my Bedroom is inspired by two beautiful adverts that Greenpeace created a few years ago, so they were certainly our jumping off point. Our show follows the story of a young girl called Yaz who wakes up one day to find that three animals have moved into her home, having been forced out of their own. The story follows Yaz’s journey as she learns how a Jaguar ended up in her kitchen, a turtle in her bathroom and an orangutan in my bedroom. The show explores the deforestation and exploitation of natural habitats as we challenge ourselves to think about what we can do to build a kinder and more sustainable future for everyone. Although these topics can sometimes feel overwhelming, our show is a celebration of change and is ultimately an exciting, funny and hopeful adventure.

How does it feel to be presenting this show at the Little Angel Theatre as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations? Honestly it’s just so special and exciting. Ever since I started working with the Little Angel back in 2016, I have always found it to be such a nurturing venue artistically and I hope that my relationship with them can continue. I am so glad that this show, along with it’s urgent and important message, can be shared with audiences at this special time for the venue as they open their doors to the public again and can continue to inspire and entertain the next generation.

How did you come up with the concept for the puppets? This was actually a really tricky one, and I definitely spent a lot of days and nights searching for inspiration and exploring different options!

Firstly, as a production we wanted to push to create a show that was more environmentally aware in it’s creation and this was a real challenge for me. In the process of creating these puppets, I discovered some incredible recycling centres across South London and really enjoyed having to think outside the box and wherever possible, use what was available to me.

As for the visuals of the puppets, I wanted to create characters that although inspired from the animals in the adverts, they felt like they had their own identity and language. It has been such a privilege to have the time to learn more about these animal’s habitats and the serious threats that they are up against, and I wanted to pay homage to that. Each of the animal puppets in the show are covered in a bespoke fabric, made up of images of either their habitats, or the objects that threaten them. Our Jaguar is entirely covered in ariel photos of the Amazon Rainforest burning, our turtle is covered in photos of plastic floating in the ocean and piling up on beaches, and our orangutan is covered in photos of palm fruits. My aim with these puppets is always to ensure that you see the puppet and the animal first – the visual stories behind their fabrics is something that you have to search for as an active audience – I think that’s really exciting.

What do you think that audiences watching will take away from the show? As a team of artists and creatives, we have challenged ourselves to create a show that handles the subject manner in a really accessible way. The performance is packed full of puppetry, humour, music, celebrity voice over, lighting, visuals and a whole heap of interaction – I really do hope that we’ve created something that everyone can engage with in different ways. I hope that audiences leave the show feeling passionate, excited, united and courageous!

What are you most looking forward to about audiences experiencing the show? I think I speak for a lot of creatives when I say – we just want to share stories with audiences again! After such a heart-breaking period of separation, it’s a real privilege to be back inside a venue and creating something brand new. I can’t wait to share all of the show’s exciting interactive elements with you and give you a big old dose of puppetry!

By Emma Clarendon

There’s a Rang-Tan in My Bedroom & Other Stories will play at the Little Angel Theatre until the 7th November.