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Kiki's Delivery Service Theatrical Adaptation an Interview at the Southwark Playhouse

Date: 2016 December 14 15:33

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The holiday season is always a good time to relax and catch a performance at the theatre. There's always something for everyone in London. This year the Southwark Playhouse have looked to Japan for some inspiration and produced stage play of Kiki's Delivery Service.

The title is best known as the much loved Studio Ghibli feature film, which is based on the book by Eiko Kadono. Being fans of Japan we were certainly intrigued. We caught up with the Southwark Play House's Artistic Director and CEO Chris Smyrnios for an exclusive interview to find out more about the play.

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Out of all the material you could have chosen for a stage play, why did you decide to adapt Kiki's Delivery Service for the stage?

Well each year we try to avoid doing the usual panto or Dickens adaptation and try to do something different that will appeal to a family audience. Kiki's Delivery Service seemed like the ideal fit and Ms Kadono very kindly allowed us to adapt it for the stage.

Kiki's Delivery Service - Alice Hewkin

As the book is out of print and rather expensive to purchase on-line, did you have any trouble sourcing copies of the book for the play?

I didn't have any trouble sourcing it, although I think I bought it online through a US supplier.

How much involvement has Eiko Kadono had with the play?

She's been involved a bit although she lives in Japan so we've been sending her drafts and asking for her approval at each stage of development via email. She also came to see the production during previews and we were obviously delighted that she enjoyed it and stuck around to take photos with the cast and audience members after the show! She's already made plans to come back and see it a few more times before she has to fly back to Japan.

How will Jiji be portrayed? Will he be a puppet? A human dressed as a cat? Or will it be a surprise?

Jiji is a puppet! Although his human operator is very much a part of the character too. Matthew Forbes, who plays Jiji, has worked on War Horse in productions of it all over the world and is a truly impressive puppeteer. We did had some early audience comments from people who admitted they were a bit nervous about how Jiji was going to be portrayed but thankfully, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far. I think he's a character you really warm to throughout the production, through Matthew's brilliant performance and his manipulation of the puppet.

Kiki's Delivery Service - Matthew Forbes, Alice Hewkin

Have there been any particular challenges adapting the book into a stage play?

Many challenges. Since the story is so fantastic the creative team have had to really think about how to represent the different parts of the story.

Have you been influenced by the Studio Ghibli anime, and the recent live action movie?

We very much wanted to represent the novel rather than the film and to create something that is unique to the medium and the creative team.

What response have you had so far about the production?

So far it seems to have been positive. It will be interesting to see what the dusty old critics think!

Kiki's Delivery Service - Jack Parker

So far you've been tight lipped about casting. As everyone been cast yet?

Everyone is cast. It is an ensemble of six.

Kiki's Delivery Service - Paksie Vernon, Alice Hewkin

Were there any challenges in the set design?

Again, many challenges, with the set design since it has to represent so many things like Kiki's parental home, the town of Koriko, Osono's Bakery etc. Simon Bejer, the designer, has done a great job in creating a set that reveals different things to set each scene.

Kiki's Delivery Service - Paksie Vernon

How will the flying scenes be portrayed?

We've used different techniques at different points during the show. You'll have to come along to find out exactly what we do!

Thanks for your time Chris! We look forward to seeing the play soon!


Otaku News would like to thank Chris Smyrnios and the team at the Southwark Playhouse for taking time from their busy schedule to answer our questions.

Kiki's Delivery Service will be running from Thursday 8th December 2016 until Sunday 8th January 2017 at the Southwark Playhouse in London.

Photo Credit: Richard Davenport


Matthew Forbes
Tom Greaves
Alice Hewkin
Anna Leong Brophy
Jack Parker
Paksie Vernon

Creative Team

Kate Hewitt

Simon Bejer

Video Designer
Andrzej Goulding

Composer & Sound Designer
Max Pappenheim

Lighting Designer
Elliot Griggs

Movement & Puppetry Director
Robin Guiver

Casting Director
Verity Naughton

Source: Otaku News
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