Performance Artist for The Little Gardener
We caught up with performance artist Peter Hobday after the show to dig deeper into how The Little Gardener came about. Soil still in his hair and a leaf tucked into his shirt, Peter shared the delights of working with How It Ended theatre company and his journey with this play.
❓Is this your first time working with puppets or have you been a puppeteer before?
❝This is my third puppet show. During a production of Bird by Forward Theatre Project, I acted against a bird puppet, then later in Boy Who Never Grew Up at Lyric Hammersmith we used puppets to narrate parts of the play. This is the first time I have been the sole puppeteer. The hardest part was choreographing my body in such a small space, keeping him alive within the obstacle course of the green house. In Emily Hughes’ children’s book, the The Little Gardener is alone, therefore I needed to be him rather than interact with him. Puppet Maker, Andy Lawrence gave him such a beautifully expressive face, it’s hard to make him look sad. I used colour of breath to explore his emotions, panting breath to make him excited or an exhausted breath to convey sadness❞
❓It’s an extremely impressive first attempt at puppeteering, I hope you try your hand at it again. Working with children is hugely rewarding, have you received any feedback from your young audience?
❝We’ve had some absolutely smashing comments from the young ones, they love sharing their thoughts and questions after the show. A couple of my favourites; one young girl who asked ‘Is that a puppet?’ I told her it was real, and she continued ‘Then why are you with him all the time’ – completely caught me off guard. I need to come up with an inventive answer for that one. We have lots of young critics too, one young boy was very concerned when telling me ‘I don’t think that worm is real’, I think using real worms could get a little messy❞
❓Are you particularly green fingered yourself?
❝Very much so, saying that I do need to attend to some weeds. We have a new gardening project, and have been busy planting. Moving on from potted plants and hanging baskets (with lots of help from my mum) to getting flowers in the ground❞
❓You all look like you’ve had great fun with this production, have you enjoyed working with the How It Ended team?
❝It’s a fantastic company to work for. Director, Eva Sampson and Dramaturg, Teresa Burns have a brilliant sense of humour and you can’t help but admire the passion they hold for their projects. I worked with them on R&D for the production of WILD and was completely absorbed by their vision, I just had to be part of it. Their work is so playful and responsive to how kids interact. It’s been a great experience, doesn’t feel like work at all❞
❗Sounds like a blast, thank you so much for catching up with us. Best of luck with the rest of The Little Gardener tour. Scatter is looking forward to seeing what you do next!