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Taryn Bennett brings the pages of The Snow Goose to life on the theatre stage

2019-04-18 15:26
Taryn Bennett
Taryn Bennett in The Snow Goose (Photo: Claude Barnardo)

Cape Town - Contagious Theatre brings the timeless Paul Gallico novella, The Snow Goose to The Fugard Theatre.

The Snow Goose: A Story of Dunkirk tells the story of the power of friendship and love, set against a backdrop of the horror of war. 

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE PLAY

The novella documents the growth of a friendship between Philip Rhayader (James Cairns), a recluse living in an abandoned lighthouse in the marshlands of Essex, and a young local girl, Fritha (Taryn Bennett) in the 1930s.  

Fritha discovers a wounded wild goose and begs Philip to help her save its life. Together they nurse the injured bird back to health and develop a unique friendship. Sadly Philip suffers an untimely death during the Dunkirk evacuation after he selflessly saved the lives of hundreds of men. 

Channel24 spoke to Taryn about the challenges of playing a dual role and the difficulties when portraying characters with masks in a theatrical performance.  

With the use of masks, original staging and performance skills, Taryn Bennett and James Cairn take on several characters in the production and quick costume changes.

"Mask is a very specific type of performance, completely different to naturalism and extremely technical, we had to learn a totally new way of performance which was difficult in the beginning," she says about the obstacles faced with dual characters and masks. 

Snow Goose

But the initial challenge was also something she came to relish in the process: "I really enjoyed learning a new way of performing. The emphasis of energy, rhythm and play is so exciting." 

When asked why she decided to be involved in the production she said: "Simon and Helen Cooper asked us to be involved, and we jumped at the chance to make the adaptation. It is a beautiful and much-loved story."

Rehearsal for the show took place over six weeks, with the first two weeks devoted to research and finding the style of the play. "Then we devised the script according to a structure in the second phase," said Taryn.

First published in 1940, The Snow Goose: A Story of Dunkirk was one of the O. Henry Prize Winners in 1941, an annual American award bestowed to short stories of exceptional merit. 

Snow Goose

About bringing an already known script to life, Taryn said: "The story is prose driven, so we needed to create characters and scenes not from the book to tell the story."

According to Taryn, those who are familiar with the novella can expect something different in the play adaptation, saying: "We stay true to the sentiment of the original story but with additional characters and scenes not in the book. We tried to bring the poetry of the story to the stage."

Tarryn added that Snow Goose will appeal to many people, saying: "I think people who are empathetic and in touch with their inner child are most affected by the show." 

Tickets range from R140 - R160 and are available from The Fugard Box Office