Halloween With A Twist Thanks to Squallis

It’s the time of year for ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and all manner of spooky creatures. To bring some of that fun to the stage, Stage One Family Theatre has formed a unique partnership with Louisville’s own Squallis Puppeteers to bring some frightening but family-friendly giants to life in a production of “The BFG” (Big Friendly Giant), a show based on the beloved Roald Dahl classic. Stage One’s Lucas Adams, who is also acting in the show as one of the giants, as well as Squallis’ “Architect,” Shawn Hennessey took the time to answer a few questions.

What can you tell me about how this process started?
Shawn Hennessey: Andrew Harris called us and asked about partnering with us. He asked if we’d be interested in working on “The BFG”. I told him that are design style utilizes a lot of recycling. I mean, I can’t make a mascot or something that looks quote-unquote professionally done, but I can make some really cool stuff. I told them that if they were okay with that then, please, hire us. They looked at our design work and fortunately thought that was cool, so here we are.

What was the design process like?
Hennessey: Well, we talked a lot about scale. There’s Sophie, who is a little girl, there are the different giants, all different sizes, and there’s also a giant who is sort of the runt of the litter. Scale was very important because we had so many characters and different sizes to convey. I wanted to put dolls legs coming out of one of the giant’s mouths, which Stage One loved. But we used a bunch of different styles of puppetry. The giants are backpack puppets (VT: large scale puppets that are worn like a backpack), but there is also shadow puppetry, rod puppets, lots of different styles and techniques to create that scale.

Lucas, you also act in the show. How has that compared considering your someone involved with the production too?
Lucas Adams: It’s been an absolute blast. It’s such a joy to see both sides of things. Most of the time you see the concept work, and it looks really cool, but to actually hear the kids react, laugh, and ooh and ahh is really rewarding.

How have the kids responded to the show?
Hennessey: My wife and I were able to take my son, who is about five, to one of the public performances. He got really into it. He got us seats in the middle in the front row, and he really loved it. It was great to hear the kids react to the show. I remember one girl asking where the giants were every time they left the stage. Every time. She wasn’t scared at all!
Adams: The kids seem to really be enjoying it! There are a lot of laughs. Who knew that kids found flatulence so funny?

Any plans to work with Stage One/Squallis again in the future?
Hennessey: We’re still wrapping things up with this show, so there’s nothing on the books yet. We’d love to work together in the future though.
Adams: I’ve really enjoyed my time working with Squallis, and I would absolutely volunteer my time if needed a puppeteer again! VT

Public performances of BFG are October 10, 17 (Sensory Friendly Performance), 24, and 31, all at 2 PM. You can also catch Squallis’ next project, “Moose Gets Ready,” a new tale about a young moose getting ready for his first day of kindergarten, on November 7 at Squallis’ performance space at 1228 E. Breckenridge Street.