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Show, don't tell . . . Red Leap Theatre's Owls Do Cry will return to the Oamaru Opera House on April 12. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Red Leap Theatre’s rendition of Owls Do Cry is returning to Oamaru with a new relevancy.

A lot had happened since the show’s premiere in Oamaru in October 2019 – arguably the most significant being last year’s national Covid-19 lockdown.

Red Leap Theatre artistic director Julie Nolan said while the show was essentially the same, people could relate to its themes in a different way, specifically themes of isolation, loss, confusion, fear, relationships, and grief, and the differing ways different generations and genders dealt with those feelings.

Although Owls Do Cry was based on Janet Frame’s novel of the same name – a story of the family that experienced the loss of a child – it did not follow the same narrative structure.

In its creation, the theatre company picked out parts of the novel they felt were the most important, such as themes of mental health, poverty, connection, and family.

“What’s the point in putting on a show in these strange and uncertain times, to ask people to come out of their homes and to gather together?

“It had to really feel important and necessary. More so than ever.”

Nolan said it was not a “redo” of the novel. It captured the “essence” of the story using abstract and multidisciplinary methods to show, rather than tell.

It was very “sensory”, relying on the use of audiovisual, lighting and projected imagery to tell an emotive story.

Rather than telling it outright, the audience was forced to “do a bit of work” by engaging with their own imaginations.

“It’s a very unexpected experience.”

Nolan said the show was coming back to Oamaru because of its “warm and generous” reception when it premiered.

“We hope some of the people who saw it last time will come again.”

Since its first showing in Oamaru the production had been “refined”, but would follow the same feeling and structure.

Nolan said it was almost a celebration in New Zealand for people to be able to sit shoulder to shoulder in a theatre.

“That feeling is almost sacred these days.”

  • Owls Do Cry will be performed in Oamaru on April 12. Tickets are available from the Oamaru Opera House.