NT Live Season: Nation
Terry Pratchett's Nation broadcast live from the National Theatre in London to a screen near you - in the QFT, to be precise
'Sometimes you'd see the puppets crawling across the stage towards you out of the corner of your eye,' Gary Carr shudders. 'That was strange.'
Carr is the young actor playing Mau in the stage adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Nation, and he eventually got used to his wooden cast mates. 'You stop looking at them in bits,' he explains. 'They're not the puppet and the two people working them; they're a character in the play, in that world.'
Nation is currently playing at the National Theatre in London, but the matinee performance on January 30 will be showing in the Queen's Film Theatre (QFT) in Belfast, as part of the National Theatre Live Season. Each show is filmed in high definition and broadcast to 300 venues around the world, from Birmingham to Japan.
'It's amazing!' Carr exclaims. 'It feels great that so many people are able to see our work. To me that's such a brilliant thing. I'm grateful to be a part of the NT Live Season and it's something I'll remember forever.'
Adapted by Mark Ravenhill, Nation tells the story of Carr's character Mau, the survivor of a tsunami that wiped out his people, leaving him with 'ghost-girl' Daphne (a shipwrecked English girl played by Dublin actress Emily Taafe) as his only companion. Together they struggle to find a way to survive and rebuild. It sounds dark, but as Carr points out the message is that after a tragedy 'people come together through all the tragedy and devastation and they survive'.
It's easy to see Carr, whose passion and energy for the role bubble over in his voice, in the role of the young leader Mau. Not long graduated from LAMBDA, he's already got an impressive list of stage and screen credits to his name. Asked which cast member he would most like to marooned on a desert island with, he laughs and stammers and demurs.
'They're such a great cast!' he protests. 'I didn't know any of them before rehearsals started, except Emily who plays Daphne, and they've been great. I'd want to be marooned with all of them. The whole cast.'
QFT have had to install a satellite link to allow them to receive the broadcast and Sarah Hughes, the cinema's press and marketing officer, is looking forward to bringing unmissable theatre 'to the doorsteps' of people in Northern Ireland. 'It's great to be working with such a well-known theatre company. And with an adaptation of Terry Pratchett's novel - he's such a successful and beloved fantasy author.'
Nation is hoped to be the first in a series of live broadcast screenings in the QFT this year. Hughes is particularly excited about the new Alan Bennett play, Habit of Art, set to air on April 22. 'I mean, Alan Bennett is a national treasure. And you will be able to see his latest play in Belfast!'
Nation can be seen at the Queen's Film Theatre on January 30 from 1.45pm to 3.45pm.