JIM HENSON’S CREATURE SHOP CREATES ICONIC CHARACTER PUPPETS FOR MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO
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Today (Tuesday 28 June 2022), Executive Producer Joe Hisaishi and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) announce that leading innovator in puppetry, animatronics, and digital animation, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, will create the puppets for the global stage premiere of Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbour Totoro, opening at the Barbican on Saturday 8 October 2022.
The puppets, designed by international award-winning puppeteer Basil Twist (Symphonie Fantastique) are currently being built at the LA location of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, the legendary workshop of The Jim Henson Company. The Shop has an iconic history, producing some of the world’s best loved characters from The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and Sesame Street.
Mervyn Millar, director of Significant Object (War Horse) who designed the puppetry for the RSC’s recent acclaimed production of The Magician’s Elephant, will create additional puppets in their UK based workshop.
Basil Twist, Puppetry Designer on My Neighbour Totoro said:
“I feel an immense responsibility to bring the iconic characters of My Neighbour Totoro to life on stage. I want to honour these characters and capture the enchanting mystery of this beloved story. I want audiences to be inspired by the same feeling they get from the film when they meet Totoro on stage, so I chose to bring in the team at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to make sure we got it right.
The Jim Henson Company is synonymous with imagination and childhood. I have been building puppets since I was a young boy, and to me there is still nothing more magical than when a seemingly inanimate object comes to life before your eyes. I have worked with the team at the Shop over the course of my career, so when I accepted this challenge and needed a team who could build my designs and bring Studio Ghibli’s treasured characters to life, I knew it had to be Henson. I truly believe we are creating something extraordinary.”
Peter Brooke, Creative Supervisor of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop said:
“We know all too well the importance of maintaining the visual style and personality of beloved characters. Whether an audience member is a long-time fan of this iconic story, or new to Miyazaki’s fantastical world, they will be simply amazed when they see these magical creatures live on stage in a whole new way in My Neighbour Totoro.”
Performed on the Barbican’s iconic stage, My Neighbour Totoro will play a 15-week season from Saturday 8 October 2022 to Saturday 21 January 2023 with press night on Tuesday 18 October 2022.
The celebrated 1988 animated feature film by Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away) will be brought to the stage by its original composer Joe Hisaishi in a landmark new adaptation by the RSC (Matilda The Musical) written by playwright Tom Morton-Smith (Oppenheimer) in collaboration with Improbable and Nippon TV.
The production is supported by Spanish Luxury House LOEWE, the Headline Sponsor of My Neighbour Totoro, whose connection with Studio Ghibli began in 2021 with the creation of a capsule collection inspired by the original animated film.
Directed by Phelim McDermott with production design by Tom Pye, costumes by Kimie Nakano, lighting by Jessica Hung Han Yun, and movement by You-Ri Yamanaka, the production will feature puppetry created by Basil Twist and music from Joe Hisaishi’s iconic score in a new orchestration by Will Stuart, performed live with sound design by Tony Gayle. Associate Director is Ailin Conant. Artwork for the stage adaptation of My Neighbour Totoro includes a hand drawn title by Toshio Suzuki, Producer for Studio Ghibli, who was involved in the planning and production of the original animated film. Casting for the production to be announced soon.
This enchanting coming-of-age story explores the magical fantasy world of childhood and the transformative power of imagination, as it follows one extraordinary summer in the lives of sisters Satsuki and Mei.
In order to be closer to their mother while she recovers from an illness in a rural convalescent hospital, their father moves the family to the countryside. As the girls explore their beautiful new surroundings, Mei encounters magical creatures and the ancient protector of the forest she calls Totoro.
Although Satsuki doesn’t believe her little sister at first, they are soon both swept up in exciting adventures with their new neighbours – transported to a long-forgotten realm of spirits, sprites, and natural wonder.
For further information contact: Bethany Arnold (email@example.com), Kate Evans (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jane Ellis (email@example.com)
IMAGES AND VIDEO
DOWNLOAD ARTWORK AND ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEO HERE
DOWNLOAD CONCEPT TRAILER HERE
HEADSHOTS AND BIOGRAPHIES AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD HERE
MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO
Barbican, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
Barbican Box Office: 020 7638 8891 or visit totoroshow.com
Twitter / TikTok: @totoro_show
Instagram / Facebook: @totoroshow / TotoroShow
Tickets from £20 - £85 with a limited number of Premium Seats available from £85
Reduced preview pricing: £10 off all prices
Groups and school rates available on selected performances
Day seats will be available at £20
Saturday 8 October 2022 – Saturday 21 January 2023
Press night: Tuesday 18 October 2022, 7pm
From 20 October: Thursday & Saturday matinees, 2pm
Please note that there will be no performances on Thursday 22 Dec (no matinee), Sat 24 Dec, Mon 26 Dec, Sat 31 Dec and Mon 2 Jan (no evening)
RSC ASSISTED PERFORMANCES AT THE BARBICAN
Thursday 15 December, 2pm
Saturday 7 January, 2pm
Performance with Integrated BSL Interpreter
Thursday 15 December, 2pm
Saturday 7 January, 2pm
Captioned and Audio Described performance
Saturday 29 October, 2pm
Saturday 12 November, 2pm (captioned only)
Thursday 8 December, 2pm (captioned only)
Wednesday 18 January, 7pm
A touch tour will take place at 12noon and 5pm before the audio described performances.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The RSC is supported using public funding by Arts Council England
The work of the RSC is supported by the Culture Recovery Fund
The RSC is generously supported by RSC America
LOEWE is the Headline Sponsor for My Neighbour Totoro
Miranda Curtis CMG – Lead Production Supporter of My Neighbour Totoro
TikTok £10 Tickets for 14-25s sponsored by TikTok
The work of the RSC Literary Department is generously supported by The Drue and H.J. Heinz II Charitable Trust
Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985 by animated film directors Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki and has produced twenty-four feature-length films. Most Studio Ghibli films ranked number one at the box office in Japan in the year in which they were released.
The Studio’s SPIRITED AWAY (2001), HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (2004) and PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997) are among Japan’s top 10 grossing films. Studio Ghibli films have garnered numerous awards and critical acclaim from film critics and animation specialists around the world. SPIRITED AWAY was awarded the Golden Bear as the Best Feature Film at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival and won the 2002 Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature Film. In October 2001, Studio Ghibli, in conjunction with The Tokuma Memorial Cultural Foundation for Animation, founded the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, designed by Hayao Miyazaki.
THE WIND RISES (2013), THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA (2013), WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (2014) and THE RED TURTLE (2016) have earned the studio four consecutive nominations for the Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature Film. The studio’s latest film, EARWIG AND THE WITCH, was an official selection for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival.
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™ provides digital puppetry, animatronic creatures, animation, and soft puppets to the international film, television, theatre, live event and advertising industries.
Recent credits include Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock (Apple TV+), Duff’s Happy Fun Bake Time (discovery+), The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (Netflix), Word Party (Netflix), and Earth to Ned (Disney+).Based in Los Angeles and New York with satellite shop capabilities internationally, the Shop is known for designing and building some of the world’s best-known characters including the Sesame Street puppets and the classic Muppets, as well as the iconic characters from Dinosaurs, Farscape, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and many more. Other feature film credits include Where the Wild Things Are, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Five Children and It.
The shop is also known for its live performance work with artists like Coldplay, Cee Lo Green, Kanye West, Lady Gaga and Deadmau5 as well as stage productions like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Dr. Doolittle. A recipient of more than 9 Emmy Awards for its outstanding work building puppets for Sesame Street, the Shop also received an Academy Award for its visual effects work on the film Babe. Other awards include a Scientific and Engineering Academy Award for the Henson Performance Control System, a powerful custom-based interface for puppeteers, and an Emmy Award for its work in developing the Henson Digital Performance Studio, a patented control system technology that enables puppeteers to perform computer-generated characters in real time. www.creatureshop.com
Improbable are pioneering improvisers, inventive creators, imaginative collaborators, authentic conversation facilitators.
Improbable is led by Artistic Directors Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson and occupies a vital space in the landscape of UK theatre. At the heart of their artistic practice is improvisation. Whether in performance, rehearsal or development Improbable use the practice and philosophy of improvisation in the process of creation.
Improbable have staged epic spectacles like Sticky, which was seen by over 250,000 people, theatrical classics like The Tempest at Northern Stage and the Oxford Playhouse, intimate puppetry like Animo in studios across the country, adaptations like Theatre of Blood at the National Theatre, operatic triumphs like Satyagraha and Olivier and Grammy Award winning Akhnaten at the English National Opera, London and the Metropolitan Opera, New York, female led impro project Permission Improbable which nurtures an improvisation culture grown by women and fully improvised productions like Lifegame which toured internationally and at the National Theatre. Our shows are live events encouraging conversation between us and our audience.
Nippon TV is Japan's leading multiplatform entertainment powerhouse and ratings champion broadcaster, as well as owner of streaming giant Hulu in Japan. Over 90% of its content IP is fully owned by Nippon TV and the company has been active in bringing its content to the international market in the form of ready-made programs, formats, and through co-production partnerships.
One of the biggest successes for the nation's finest producer of all genres of programming is the Emmy Award-winning Dragons' Den/Shark Tank, a globally successful business show format that has 45 versions in more than 186 countries across all continents of the world. Additionally, their hit drama series Mother has also achieved global success as the most exported scripted format out of Asia, with its format sales to South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, France, Thailand, China, Indonesia, and Spain.
The company is also known for its viewer engaging gameshow formats. BLOCK OUT is an action-packed game show format that has been adapted in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Spain, and Holland. The award-winning unscripted format Mute it!, and Sokkuri Sweets, have both been produced in the Netherlands. Sokkuri Sweets/Eye Candy is on The Roku Channel in the US, UK, and Canada. As evident by the company’s success, Nippon TV is leveraging its coveted platform to revolutionize digital media in an ever-changing industry to solidify its presence and brand as a global media leader.
Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)
The Royal Shakespeare Company creates world class theatre, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world, performing plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, as well as commissioning an exceptionally wide range of original work from contemporary writers. Our purpose is to ensure that Shakespeare is for everyone, and we do that by unlocking the power of his plays and of live performance, throughout the UK and across the world.
We believe everybody’s life is enriched by culture and creativity. We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. Our transformative Learning Programmes reach over half a million young people and adults each year, and through our Placemaking and Public Programme we create projects with and for communities who have not historically engaged with our work. We are a leader in creative immersive technologies and digital development.
We have a proud record of innovation, diversity and excellence on stage and are determined to grasp the opportunity to become an even more inclusive, progressive, relevant and ambitious organisation.
We are committed to being a teaching and learning theatre – in which we create world class theatre for, with and by audiences and theatre makers of all ages. We provide training for emerging and established theatre makers and arts professionals, for teachers and for young people. We share learning formally and informally. We embed training and research across our company, work and processes.
We recognise the climate emergency and work hard to embed environmental sustainability into our operations, creative work and business practice, making a commitment to continually reduce our carbon footprint.
Keep Your RSC supports our mission to create theatre at its best, unlocking Shakespeare and transforming lives. Thousands of generous audience members, trusts and foundations and partners supported Keep Your RSC in 2020 and, alongside a £19.4 million loan from the Culture Recovery Fund, we are thrilled to be welcoming audiences back. It will take time to recover, to reopen all our theatres, and many years to repay the loan and the support and generosity of our audiences is more important than ever. Please donate at rsc.org.uk/donate
Arts Council England
Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk
Created in Spain in 1846, LOEWE has been one of the world’s major luxury houses for almost 180 years. Since 2013, under creative director Jonathan Anderson, the brand has started a new chapter focused on craft and culture; evidenced through an intellectual yet playful approach to fashion, bold and vibrant Spanish lifestyle, and unmatched expertise with leather.
In 2021 the brand collaborated with Studio Ghibli to create the LOEWE x My Neighbour Totoro capsule collection, followed by LOEWE x Spirited Away in 2022. LOEWE and Studio Ghibli share a mutual love of craft and artisanal techniques, expressed in their respective languages, as well as a deep connection to nature, the outdoor world and a sense of perpetual invention.