The Little Match Girl

The Little Match Girl comes to Brighton Dome next month and ahead of the show, our editor caught up with award winning Director and Choreographer Arthur Pita to discover more about his adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen classic.

Tell me the premise of the show? 

It’s set in a faraway, imaginary Italian town, so has an Italian flavour in terms of the language and feel. When I first started thinking about creating it I was inspired by Federico Fellini and wanted to give the show a foreign film feeling for a young audience. It’s a Christmas story and the Italians really know how to do Christmas. 

So that’s how it’s set, and then you have this character, The Little Match Girl and this journey she goes on from the struggle of life and the problem of homelessness and people’s reaction to her being ignored and not seen on the street. 

The people in the story don’t help her until she goes to her grandmother’s grave where she sadly freezes to death. Her grandmother assists her, so she’s cared for by her spirit. I didn’t want to leave the audience depressed. At the time of creating it I was watching some documentaries about the moon and there was such a beautiful description about an astronaut talking about looking back at the earth from outer space and how small it was. I thought it was a lovely time at the end of the year to have some perspective on life and to look back a little bit – to reflect on the year gone past. I was interested in this zooming away from earth, so on the set we have the moon. When the Little Match Girl’s soul rises, her grandmother takes her up a ladder  where she has an encounter with an astronaut, I move forward in time at this point and the show becomes surreal. 

Although the story deals with the theme of death, it also touches on a continuation of life – would you agree with that? 

Exactly that. I think in this day and age when we live in such a diverse world you can’t be describing heaven as one thing, because heaven is so many different things to so many different religions. I was questioning what is heaven? And there’s something interesting about the moon because the moon is something we can all see and believe in because it’s real, so to me that felt like the perfect solution to what heaven would be. I wanted to portray a hopeful and magical afterlife. 

How did you select the music for the show?  

We have a live musician and the music was composed by Frank Moon. For the Brighton performances we have a fantastic musician – Phil King who is playing the score – you will hear him sing and play a multitude of instruments. He also narrates the story musically. 

Tell me about the characterisation of The Little Match Girl? 

There are villains in the story who have everything and she becomes quite fixated on why they won’t help her when she’s left out on the street – they are the last option and keep rejecting her. She does fight back which I thought was important. I wanted to show strength in her character and for her not to be completely passive, so she’s a little bit feisty. 

Why should we come and see the show? 

It’s a truly magical Christmas show and I directed it with children in mind so it’s not scary, but inviting and warm. I didn’t want to disappoint any of my younger audience as this could be their first theatre experience. Adults will love it just as much. 

Book Now Brighton Dome, December 20, 21, 23, 24. 

Words by Samantha Harman

Steven Graham
Author: Steven Graham

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