Monday, March 02, 2015

Introducing Monkey Baa by Daria O'Neill

The National Final of the 2015 Kids' Lit Quiz Australia competition is to be held at the Monkey Baa Theatre Company's Lend Lease Darling Quarter Theatre in Darling Harbour, Sydney on Saturday 14 March. 

Kids' Lit Quiz Australia is delighted to be associated with the Monkey Baa Theatre Company because both organisations are passionate about children's literature. Today's guest post by Monkey Baa's Development Manager, Daria O'Neill, outlines the effective and entertaining ways that Monkey Baa connects with young audiences throughout Australia.

Why not go along to see the National Final? Entry to see some of Australia's best readers compete for the right to represent Australia at the World Final, in Connecticut, USA in July 2015, is FREE! And it's a lot of fun. There are audience prizes (books, of course!), loads of interesting information about books you've already read and books you've yet to meet and an opportunity to see the sport of reading in action! 

It's also not too late to enter the 2015 Kids' Lit Quiz! The heats start in Ipswich on 5 March - mere days away - so schools in and around Ipswich, Brisbane, Orange, Canberra and Sydney should contact Nicole Deans ( IMMEDIATELY if they are interested in participating in the 2015 Kids' Lit Quiz. 

Now, let's learn a bit about the wonderful work that Monkey Baa does for Australian children...

Monkey Baa Theatre Company was established in 1997 to create captivating, vibrant and relevant theatre experiences for young people, their educators and families.

The Pete boys read Pete the Sheep by Jackie French and Bruce Whateley

Our co-Founders and Creative Directors, Sandra Eldridge, Tim McGarry and Eva Di Cesare, have since adapted fourteen classic Australian stories for the stage – from The Bugalugs Bum Thief to Hitler’s Daughter to Pete the Sheep – winning awards, critical acclaim and inclusion on the NSW Board of Studies, and consolidating our reputation as a theatre of excellence, producing work solely for young audiences (aged 3-18 years).

Based on the book by Tim Winton, you can see Monkey Baa's production of The Bugalugs Bum Thief in Sydney in April 2015 and later on tour in other parts of Australia. Click on the link for show details.

Here are some current Monkey Baa productions, all based on books you might also know. Details of these shows can be found at the links in the photo captions.

The Witches by Roald Dahl

I am Jack by Susanne Gervay

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs

Monkey Baa has become Australia’s widest-reaching touring company, touring our productions nationally (and internationally); working with schools, children's organisations and arts venues from bush to coast and across the seas.

We strive to ensure that young people - wherever they are located and whatever their circumstance - have the opportunity to experience quality theatre productions and arts education programs that reflect their experience of life in this country; throughout the whole of their childhood – from pre-school to high school.

All of our children loved the stories and were absolutely spellbound by the performance.
I was so happy to see them transported into the story, making connections between what they had read and what they were watching. It made the experience so rich for them… 

School teacher, Nungarring

For many of our young audience members, a Monkey Baa performance is their first (and sometimes only) experience of live theatre. Our work invites young people to question and challenge their values, expectations and understanding of the world, and their place within it.

With Patrons and key supporters including Australian Children's Laureate Jackie French, Morris Gleitzman, Susanne Gervay and Tim Winton, we are constantly looking for new Australian stories to tell - ones that will resonate and bring joy to our young audiences.

HarperCollins, 2002

The kind of works Monkey Baa creates require the audience to participate, allowing the children to be co-creators. Unlike television or a large-scale theatre production, Monkey Baa's form of theatre requires the audience to be part of the work. This level of engagement creates a profound learning experience: the children literally walk out of the theatre more intelligent than when they walked in.

Jackie French (Australian Children’s Laureate, Senior Citizen of the Year & Monkey Baa Patron)

Penguin Books, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012

In 2015, our Creative Directors are starting work on five new plays - including Li Cunxin's The Peasant Prince, Morris Gleitzman's Once Then Now & After, Randa Abdel-Fattah's Where the Streets had a Name and Jackie French's Diary of a Wombat - and they need your help: donate to our Clever Monkeys campaign and nominate your own Clever Monkey (aged 3-18) to share ideas, give feedback and ensure that young people’s opinions are respected and reflected through our work.

 Penguin Books, 2007

Pan MacMillan, 2009

About the Author

Daria O'Neill is Development Manager at the Monkey Baa Theatre Company. You can find more information at Monkey Baa's website.

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