A play for small people with giant imaginations

Lewis Hetherington, Ailie Cohen and Larry
Lewis Hetherington, Ailie Cohen and Larry

A world turned upside down and discovering the thrill of adventure is the secret in a unique performance which tours the isles next month.

‘The Secret Life of Suitcases’ is the result of the first ever co-production between one of Scotland’s leading puppetry companies and the UK’s leading theatre for young audiences.

The funny and enchanting show is a new collaboration with the Unicorn Theatre, London, by writer/director Lewis Hetherington and puppeteer/designer Allie Cohen.

For Glasgow based playwright Lewis, his passion for theatre is rooted in liveness, regardless of a production’s location as he explained of theatre: “It is a space for us to share an experience, to hear a story and hopefully offer us the chance to look again at the world we live in.”

As such his work is grounded in research and investigation, as Lewis has said (www.lewishetherington.co.uk): “I want to take complicated material and make it stimulating and accessible. I want to take ideas and theories and weave them into personal human stories. I want to experiment and play with form, but make theatre that is engaging and inclusive.”

And ‘The Secret Life of Suitcases’ certainly looks to be highly engaging, delivering a playful, huge hearted production for small people with giant imaginations and celebrates an analogue, handcrafted aesthetic in a digital world.

The play introduces audiences to Larry who works in an office and likes it very much. He likes sorting and tidying and generally putting things in order. Everything in its place, a place for everything.

One day, however, everything changes as Larry discovers a suitcase which suddenly appears at his door. The suitcase has a tiny label. A tiny label with Larry’s name on it. And this suitcase has a mission...

Audiences are invited to join Larry as his world gets turned upside down by the fantastical flying suitcase taking him further than he ever thought possible. And follow his journey as Larry discovers the thrill of adventure and the joy of coming home again.

A Creative Scotland funded production, ‘The Secret Life of Suitcases’ is touring the Highlands and Islands through The Touring Network and Arts nan Eilean; taking in Lewis, Harris and Benbecula amongst mainland dates.

The performance is part of the Puppet Animation Festival and features the wonderful works of renowned mast puppet maker and puppeteer Ailie Cohen.

Her work includes the hugely popular Jazz Mouse, of which the Sunday Times said: “cramming more invention into each five minutes than most adult shows do in an hour.” And most recently Ailie, famed for creating emotionally rich and compelling theatrical experiences which highlight the beauty and surreal in the everyday, worked with the National Theatre on the Inside Out Festival as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

‘The Secret Life of Suitcases’ will perform in Ionad Na Seann Sgoil, Shawbost, Lewis on Thursday, April 3rd at 2pm. The production then travels to Tarbert Community Centre, Harris, on Friday, April 4th, playing at 2pm and 4pm; and sets up in Balivanich Community Centre, Benbecula on Saturday, April 5th at 3pm.

For further information/tickets, please visit www.wegottickets.com or call 01851 700475.