John Marsden and Shaun Tan's haunting picture book tells a story we all know: a story of colonisation, civilisation and progress — a story about displacement, destruction and culture clash. And in that landscape, it tells a story of hope taking root.
It's a story for young people, it's a story for old people, it's a story for all of us.
Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company have assembled some of Australia's foremost creative talents to collaborate on a new opera for children and families.
Gabriela Tylesova's kooky sets and costumes realise Tan's pictures in all of their mystical wonder, while Lally Katz has turned Marsden's spare poetry into an enchanting libretto. To write the score, Kate Miller Heidke: the butterfly-voiced, classically-trained indie-pop singer who is as at home on the charts as she is performing at the Met. As well as composing The Rabbits, Kate will perform in this production.
"Barking Gecko believes the youngest should have the finest experiences in the theatre. In partnership with Opera Australia we aim to make a production that fires imagination and empowers younger audiences to embrace the world and their future in it," says John Sheedy, Artistic Director of Barking Gecko Theatre Company.
The rabbits came many grandparents ago. They built houses, made roads, had children. They cut down trees. A whole continent of rabbits...
'Where' from The Rabbits, performed by Kate Miller-Heidke
Making the masks for The Rabbits
Behind the scenes: The rabbits in the rehearsal room
|Adaptor & Director||John Sheedy|
Musical Arrangements &
|Executive Producer||Sandra Willis|
|Lighting Designer||Trent Suidgeest|
|Sound Designer||Michael Waters|
|Indigenous Consultant||Rachael Maza|
|Original Book by||John Marsden|
|Illustrated by||Shaun Tan|
|Bird (Narrator)||Kate Miller-Heidke|
|2 Stripe||Marcus Corowa|
|3 Stripe||David Leha|
|A Scientist||Kanen Breen|
|A Society Rabbit||Nicholas Jones|
|A Convict||Christopher Hiller|
|A Lieutenant||Simon Meadows|
|The Captain||Robert Mitchell|
The book was first published in Australia by Lothian Books.
The opera is produced by arrangement with Hachette Australia Pty Ltd.
An Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company co-production. In association with West Australian Opera. Commissioned by Melbourne Festival and Perth International Arts Festival.
This project is assisted by the Australian Government's Major Festivals Initiative, managed by the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals, Perth International Arts Festival, and Melbourne Festival; and the Western Australian Government through the Department of Culture and the Arts.
Running time: approximately 60 minutes, without interval.