Company: TFTS Department, Aberystwyth University
Directed by Richard Cheshire – Performed in the Emily Davies Studio, in the Parry Williams Building (adjacent to the Arts Centre).
His Dark Materials takes audiences on a thrilling journey through worlds familiar and unknown. For Lyra and Will, its two central characters, it's a coming of age and a transforming spiritual experience.
Pullman’s magical story unfolds in a world where young girl Lyra lives in an Oxford very like our own, but strangely different with people’s souls brought to life as animal companions, known as daemons. Lyra meets a young boy, Will, who is on the run. Her fate is strangely linked to his -together they must find the most powerful weapon of all – a magical knife that can take them to parallel worlds. When Lyra overhears her Uncle, Lord Asriel, arguing with the religious authorities about mysterious 'dust', she embarks on an incredible journey to the Arctic to try and find the truth. She meets the dangerously enticing Mrs Coulter and learns the secrets of the truth-telling Alethiometer.
Will and Laura’s quest demands a savage struggle against the most dangerous of enemies - rebellious angels, soul-eating spectres, child-catching Gobblers and armoured bears and witch-clans of the Arctic. Finally, before reaching the republic of heaven, they must visit the land of the dead...
“What the stage version does bring out is the positive side of Pullman's humanism. In the final Act the evening becomes truly moving. In an astonishing sequence, Lyra and Will descend to the land of the dead in a way that tugs at the heart. First Lyra is forcibly separated from her faithful daemon: the physical manifestation of her soul. She then meets the embodiment of her own death… Eventually, the dead are released from captivity on condition they tell true stories about everything they loved in life. Pullman's extraordinary vision of a universe in which the untethered dead merge with the wind and the trees is perfectly realised” Michael Billington.
“The eventful story is powered by a mixture of religion, philosophy, cosmology, spiritualism and good old sci fi parallel worlds - well larded with anachronism and faux depth. It was greatly appreciated by adolescents of all ages -genuinely moving and funny. We are talking kids' adventure movie and all the better for being staged rather than filmed." Robert Brown
This production is one of five projects led by lecturer/practitioners in The Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University working with and mentoring final-year Drama and Theatre studies students. The companies began rehearsing their pieces, which include a range of devised and text-based works, towards the end of September. Through a combination of directed sessions and guided independent learning, the companies will present their final projects during a festival of work performed in the last two weeks of term.