Meet The Makers: The Worm
Published: Thursday 30 March 2023
Auckland Live and Nightsong are delighted to present the must-see school holiday show, The Worm, as it returns to stage this April. Follow the heart-warming tale of a little worm who goes on an exciting adventure to save his mother, meeting a cast full of critters and creatures along the way.
Now, sit tight and let's meet the makers!
Introduce yourself and your arts practice.
Carl: I’m Carl Bland. Co-artistic Director of Nightsong. I write the plays that we produce.
Ben: Hello – I’m Ben Crowder and I identify as a theatre maker (and Director of The Worm)! I have a strong independent gene – and have therefore tended to have made work driven by myself and collaborators. This is in part due to loving theatre; because it does not need rules – and can work at scale, with multiple strands interconnecting – imagery, language, movement, sound and so on. I value enormously the training I had with John Bolton over in Melbourne – and continue to be inspired by working with Carl Bland. The work I like to make engages people’s minds and hearts. Making work for young audiences is no different on that front.
What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
Carl: That there’s no division between my work and my life. My work is my life.
Ben: I love the development of an idea – as it begins to take shape, continues to grow and becomes this living entity. Along the way, people join and contribute – extending and realising the vision – potentially to conjure the impossible. Eventually it can be a huge thing, perhaps years in the making, and it gets to be shared with an audience. It is this start to finish element that thrills me and gets me up in the morning.
What’s the hardest thing about what you do?
Carl: That it never leaves you.When you try to leave you feel guilty.
Ben: The constant under resourcing to not break your optimism and pollute the work.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Carl: I read somewhere of a five year old telling her teacher she didn’t need to learn all the things she was being taught, because when she grew up she was going to be a pineapple. I thought that was good advice.
Ben: If you are bored as a director for even a moment by the work – rest assured so is the audience.
What’s the best show you’ve seen this year?
Carl: Watching the birds in my garden.
Ben: Slight cheat as saw this at Cinars in Montreal in November – Rebota Rebota Y En Tu Cara Explota – so exciting and fresh, a work with great integrity and panache from a sensational Spanish performer who showcased a denouncement of violence against women and the indifference of society. Powerful and funny. Slightly on hustle as would love to see it in New Zealand. In 2023 my highlight has been Savage Coloniser – beautifully performed and staged. Fresh and dynamic. And again a show that had something to say – but embracing the form to side swipe us all!
Who are your favourite artists/theatre companies and why?
Carl: I started out as a painter. So my favourite artists tend to be painters. If I had to pick one it would be Vermeer. It’s like he’s turned up the volume on the world. And yet he does it with silence.
Ben: Potentially just answered above! But to expand the team behind Savage Coloniser / Wild Dogs Under My Skirt (Anapela Polata'ivao, Tusiata Avia, Victor Roger – cast) for reasons above. As a theatre artist and writer my collaborator Carl Bland and previously Peta Rutter cannot be bettered as far as I am concerned – I love the drive for excellence, the curiosity, but also the anarchic streak that keeps a sanity in the maelstrom. I try to stay open to where I find great work – sometimes it can be the smallest element that truly inspires me – often this is from independent artists or emerging artists - and that can remind or reinvigorate me.
Tell us about The Worm.
Carl: The idea for The Worm started from walking my son to school. Every time it rained worms would crawl to the surface. He was scared of them so I had to carry him. But it made me wonder what made them leave their underground home. Something drew them to the light even though it was so dangerous for them so I created a story to try to explain it. A young worms search for their mother. At the time I was also looking at film noir so the world that exists under the ground was influenced by that aesthetic.
Ben: The Worm has been an adventure. It has a certain magic to it and has always felt blessed as a show. I have loved working with a live band and the cast. It is a bit different to what Nightsong normally does – as it has been made for younger audiences – however our work has often appealed to young minds (even if they have not been the target). I think it is the humour, the rhythms/energy, the visual elements and of course the theatricality that has made this cross over so natural.
It is a story that excites audiences – both younger and older – it has a great sense of thrill and suspense. It is a coming of age story, a hero quest, and ultimately one where the main character gets to discover who they really are. All delivered by extraordinary actors in fantastic costumes and a great script.
What can audiences expect from The Worm?
Carl: Great performances from our actors. Its anarchic, funny and in moments full of beauty.
Ben: A great theatrical experience – one that strikes a chord with the entire whānau – I have even seen peevish teenagers who were dragged along to a ‘silly kids show’ who have been won over.