Jasper Jones: An Illustrated Guide
Everything you need to know about our upcoming production of Jasper Jones
Jasper Jones — In Context:
Based on the bestselling novel by Craig Silvey and adapted by Kate Mulvany, Jasper Jones has been called Australia’s answer to To Kill a Mockingbird.
The story is notable not only because it’s a wildly entertaining murder-mystery, but for the way in which it captures a uniquely Australian anxiety: our troubled relationship with the land and our history of invasion. Therefore, Jasper Jones can be understood as a coming-of-age story and a murder mystery but also as a work of Australian Gothic writing.
According to critic Lisa Thatcher, Australian Gothic is characterised by the troubled white Australian psyche being projected onto Australia’s rugged landscape:
Australian Gothic taps into the very uniquely white Australian problem of being a stranger in one’s own land. White Australia has the psychic history of walking onto occupied land and claiming it, generating a feeling of great unease in our relationship with the physical earth in this country, and a strange unease with our identity as inheritors of European culture and displacers of Aboriginal heritage.
In Nescha Jelk’s production, this will be represented by the natural landscape dominating the stage and having the town of Corrigan plonked in front of it and wheeled onto the stage in a variety of modular set pieces. Our production, like the novel, acknowledges the traditional owners of the land in Australia, and uses that to demonstrate the unease we have with our past. The Australian landscape is the equivalent of the Gothic castle on the hill, so to speak.
On a steaming summer night in the small town of Corrigan, Charlie Bucktin’s life is changed forever when town outcast Jasper Jones knocks on his bedroom window.
Bored, bullied and always buried in a book, Charlie is pulled into a world more dangerous than those found in any novel as Jasper takes him to the outskirts of town and asks him to help solve the murder of local teenager Laura Wishart. As they unravel the mystery, they peel back the layers of their lives and discover the dark heart beating at the centre of their seemingly innocent small-town.
Told through the eyes of Charlie, Jasper Jones invites the audience to become part of Charlie’s journey of self-discovery. He breaks the fourth wall and directly addresses the audience, almost as if his conversations with us are small diary entries. Private moments that will bring you into the centre of the narrative and make you a vital and important part of this incredible Australian story.
Craig Silvey is the author of four novels, Rhubarb, The World According to Warren, The Amber Amulet and Jasper Jones.
In a recent interview with us, he spoke about what he wanted to achieve with Jasper Jones in relation to the notion of the coming-of-age-story:
In trying to bring something different to the genre, or the idea, of the coming-of-age story, I wanted to examine what it really meant to grow up and how that might apply more broadly. For me, coming of age isn’t learning to be an adult and being more responsible and ticking the boxes of maturity. For me, coming of age is bursting the bubble of childhood and learning and really questioning your place in the world.
Jasper Jones was adapted for the stage by lauded Australian playwright and actor Kate Mulvany.
Jasper Jones is brought to the Dunstan Playhouse stage by Adelaide director Nescha Jelk, who has previously directed shows including Othello, Straight White Men and Terrestrial.
Her version of Jasper Jones asks big questions, and really works to put Craig Silvey’s intentions regarding the coming-of-age-story onto the stage. Her production asks big questions about our history and our relationship to the land, while asking the audience to look upon the world around them from a fresh perspective.
A great Australian story demands a great Australian cast and we’ve assembled the dream team to bring Jasper Jones to life.
Sharply funny and bubbling with intrigue (and a fair amount of cricket, courtesy of Charlie’s best friend Jeffrey Lu), Jasper Jones is a coming-of-age story of two boys and a nation. It’ll knock you for six.