A month-long Christmas residency at London’s Southbank Centre will cap off a busy 2018 for Windmill Theatre Co, as the local children’s theatre company will perform more than 200 shows across 28 cities this year, which includes two world premieres.
Windmill will take its big musical production Rumpelstiltskin to London, its co-production with State Theatre Company, which originally starred Paul Capsis who will reprise his role for the month-long Christmas residency at the revamped 915 seat Queen Elizabeth Hall at the end of the year.
“It’s like the jewel in the crown for us at Windmill and State Theatre, too,” artistic director Rosemary Myers says. “We make these musicals and they’re very much an homage to pantomime and to be invited to play the show for a month over the peak panto season in London, in the home of pantomime, is just pretty exciting.”
Before Rumpelstiltskin heads to Southbank, Windmill’s collaboration with Scotland’s Imaginate, Baba Yaga, is premiering in Scotland this month and is currently being performed through 10 cities. These two overseas tours of originally produced work by Windmill more than justifies its 2009 change of direction, where it moved from a commissioning model to programming under Myers in her first year as artistic director. Windmill then developed an in-house style that can be seen across its theatre work for young children and teenagers as well as film with its successful 2015 debut film Girl Asleep.
“Some of the things the company’s achieved, particularly things like making the film [Girl Asleep] and that taking off, has opened up a whole lot of conversations about where our work can go,” she says.
“Our early childhood work is incredibly popular in America and China, which is brilliant because it is taking the work of Adelaide artists, generating work for Adelaide artists and genuinely just showing the world work from South Australia.”
Windmill are in pre-production for their cinematic follow-up to Girl Asleep, School Dance, will premiere two new works this year (Baba Yaga and Amphibian) and tour favourites such as Beep, Big Bad Wolf and Rumpelstiltskin nationally and internationally. There are also discussions about presenting their work in different mediums such as television. All of this and they are still described as a boutique company. How do they limit their ambition?
“We’re pretty strategic in how we manage ourselves,” Myers says. “We’ve got a really tight infrastructure and a great team of people working here. Our executive producer Kaye Weeks is a strategic thinker in how we manage growth. We’re very targeted. We’re very conscious that first and foremost our company belongs to the young people of South Australia. The work we make for the young people in the regions and the city of Adelaide is a very big priority for us – then to the rest of Australia. And, then, of course, the potential to work overseas is just great for leveraging off all the investment it takes to make work and generate work for South Australian artists.”