Light and shade
Step into The Lost World, where shadow puppets hunt for dinosaurs in a magical tale for children.
Someone once described discovering the work of Paper Cinema as like finding yourself in a small village where television had not been invented, but something altogether more enchanting had been dreamed up in its place. Capturing the essence of what the company does is not easy, but illustrator Nic Rawling sees it as the missing link between puppetry and the kind of stop-frame animation that made Captain Pugwash so endearing.
“It’s live animation to live music,” he says. “It concentrates on the craft of the musician and the puppeteer/illustrator and takes on a very filmic quality because we play with this one camera. It’s not strictly puppeteering and it’s not strictly animation – it’s somewhere in between.”
Whatever its secret ingredients, the company created a word-of-mouth hit last year with The Night Flyer at the Forest Fringe. Now it is back – this time at the Scottish Storytelling Centre – with an adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ripping yarn, The Lost World. Once again, it’s combining live music with black-and-white cut-out cartoons (“photocopies stuck onto the back of cornflakes packets”) projected live onto a screen.
“It’s a live performance and there is that tension of three people up there on stage,” says Rawling. “We’ve just got to see how good we can make it. There’s a beauty that people feed on as this film unveils itself. And this show has a tried-and-tested seat-jumper which, if we get it right, can raise the whole audience.”
As an antidote to the slickness of Pixar and Disney, Paper Cinema uses its rough-and-ready technique to create performances of considerable charm. The live and recorded soundtrack by Kieron Maguire reminds you of the days of silent movies, while the illustrations are rich in detail. Part of the fun is in watching not just what they do, but how they do it.
“You can’t stop looking at what we’re making – the drawings hold your attention – and also what Kieron is making musically draws you in,” he says. “Sometimes people spend so long watching what we’re doing they miss bits of the story.”
The Lost World is a turn-of-the-century adventure by the Edinburgh author and creator of Sherlock Holmes, about a trip to a remote corner of Venezuela where dinosaurs still roam. Younger children will enjoy the escapades in a prehistoric world, while older audiences – such as the teenagers who enjoyed the company’s recent tour of Edinburgh school’s as part of the City of Literature programme – will delight at seeing such an unusual form of animation. Adults are likely to be just as beguiled.
“It’s meant me having to learn about Victorian clothing styles, indigenous tribes and South American fauna,” says Rawling. “It’s been great fun to convert. The story is about dinosaurs, adventures and climbing over things, so our audiences can go from as young as six. If older children are into Conan Doyle, music, drawing or cinema they should have a whale of a time too.”
LOST WORLD, Scottish Storytelling Centre, 12-31 August (not 18, 25), 3.30pm, From £5, 0131 556 9579
If you like this, try The Dinosaur Show at Augustine’s, 18 – 31 August (not 23, 24, 30)