Actor Danny Hughes who plays Billy Casper in Perth Theatre’s upcoming production of Kes, got up close and personal with some birds of prey in preparation for his role as a 15-year-old boy who teaches himself to train a wild bird.
With help from Barry Blyther of Elite Falconry in Fife, Danny, and Kes director Lu Kemp also learnt to swing the lure, a swung cotton line with a baited ‘lure’ attached that motivates birds to fly during the training sessions.
In response to the skill and talent involved in Falconry, Lu Kemp said:
“We have been learning the basics of this incredibly skilled practice, beginning to get a feel for the rigour that the boy would need to develop his relationship with the wild bird. Learning to swing a lure close enough to the bird that it will remain motivated enough to fly for you, but not so close that they get the bait before you intend them to demands real physical skill and attention to detail.
It is a significant physical challenge requiring dexterity and precision...
It is a significant physical challenge requiring dexterity and precision while all the physicality must become subconscious, allowing the conscious mind to concentrate on judging the distance, altitude and speed of an incoming fast-moving missile that is the little falcon. It’s helped me understand the work this lonely boy puts in, and the feat he achieves.”
Kes, which runs in Perth Theatre’s Joan Knight Studio from Thursday 31 October until Saturday 16 November, comes fifty years after Ken Loach’s iconic film of Barry Hine’s tender novel about boy and kestrel.
At 15 years old, Billy Casper’s future is already mapped out for him: paper round. PE lessons, pits … purgatory. Bullied by his brother, ignored by his mam, and picked on by his teachers, young Billy dodges and scrapes his way through life.
Until he steals a kestrel chick from its nest. Billy takes her, feeds her, raises her, trains her, and flies her - and something suddenly awakens inside him.
Perth Film Society will be screening Ken Loach’s Kes in Perth Theatre’s Joan Knight Studio on Thursday 17 October after which Lu Kemp will lead a post-show discussion with audiences to discuss their experience of the novel, film and stage adaptation.
Kes is supported by the Joan Knight Fund, established in memory of Perth Theatre’s former artistic director to support new writing and emerging theatre talent.
For tickets and info for Kes in Perth Theatre’s Joan Knight Studio from Thursday 31 October until Saturday 16 November visit the Horsecross website or call Horsecross Arts Box Office on 01738 621031.
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