Theatre Courage comes from within

Courage comes from within

“Since the beginning of time, warriors have been sent to live amongst mankind,” announces cast member Richard September at the outset of this heart-warming tale of a child overcoming disability. But over time, he continues, man lost the ability to see and appreciate them. Generations have passed without a single warrior walking the earth.

Animated by the performers, life-sized puppets interact on stage in children’s show Warrior on Wheels. Photo: Greg Roxburgh.

Animated by the performers, life-sized puppets interact on stage in children’s show Warrior on Wheels. Photo: Greg Roxburgh.

“Feeling that mankind might once more be ready to learn,” he says, “the ancestors sent down one of their most courageous and kind spirits: Liqhawe.”

Children and adults alike sit captivated as September embarks on the journey of Warrior on Wheels. Using bunraku puppets, shadow puppetry and live actors, it tells the fantastical story of a young boy – the puppet Liqhawe – on the verge of a great adventure.

Skadikaba, a fearsome forest monster, attacks Liqhawe with dark magic, rendering him unable to walk or talk. His mother seeks help from a shapeshifting healer who sends Liqhawe on a quest to overcome his disability. Along the way he meets friends and foes who teach him, as well as the audience, that courage comes from within. Despite his disabilities, Liqhawe’s warrior spirit is reignited.

The production, originally staged in 2012, has been reworked to resemble an African folktale. Warrior was inspired by Diedre Amy Gower’s book of the same name and was commissioned by the Chaeli Campaign, an organisation which aims to empower children with disabilities. It takes up the tragedy without labouring the point, and it is an easy and enjoyable watch.

“It’s about bravery and courage,” says Jessica McCarthy, one of the show’s four puppeteers. “It’s about questioning the word ‘warrior,’ which usually brings up images of physically powerful people. It’s a beautiful reminder of the warrior that is inside everyone.”

Warrior has frightening moments and tells the story in metaphors that may go over the heads of younger viewers, but the incredible puppet manipulation and visuals make for beautiful storytelling.

Heather Cameron

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