The Mysterious Vanishment of Pobby & Dingan

The latest Travelling Light show Pobby and Dingan is a story based on Ben Rice’s acclaimed debut novel about how one boy’s mission to save his family unites an outback opal-mining community.

Travelling Light Artistic Producer Jude Merill and director Craig Edwards talk about the show



In a nutshell, what is The Mysterious Vanishment of Pobby & Dingan about?

It’s about the power and the importance of imagination. It’s also about loyalty and love.It’s about a grown-up brother & sister, Ashmol & Kellanne, who together tell us a story about their childhood in an opal-mining community in the Australian outback where they grew up. When Kellyanne was 8 she spent all her time with her two imaginary friends Pobby and Dingan. Disaster strikes when the two imaginary friends disappear, causing Kellyanne to become ill with worry. Ashmol decides to get everybody in town to go out looking for them, which starts a chain of events that are both funny and heart-rending.

What was has it been like working on it?

Brilliant! We had a crack team of writer Craig Edwards, composer Sarah Moody and designer Katie Sykes working with experienced actors Vic Llewellyn and Jordan Whyte, and the highly-skilled musician Ron Phelan. They spent 4 weeks playing together, laughing and producing great work.

ImagesWhat have been the challenges?

We worked with the award-winning Tasmanian playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer to adapt Ben Rice’s novella into a workable script for 2 actors and a musician: he produced a great script, but it was too long, so our first challenge was to condense it into one hour. The second challenge was to create a cast of thousands with only 3 people onstage – one of whom spends a lot of the time attached to a double bass…

What are you most looking forward to?

The audiences. This show will perform in primary and secondary schools, to students aged 9 to 18, and of course to adults of all ages in theatres both big and small. They will all have different reactions – I can’t wait to see them.

What can audiences expect from Pobby and Dingan?

An absorbing journey into a community they’re unlikely to have met before – one that lives and dies for opals. Lightning Ridge is a real place, and some of the characters in the play are based on real people, such as Domingo who lives in a castle built from discarded bottles. And at the heart of it is a very touching story about a family who live there.



Where did it all begin?

When people I know heard that we were adapting Pobby & Dingan for the stage it was surprising how many said ” I love that story, it’s one of my favourites!” When Jude Merrill at Travelling Light first proposed it to me as a future show I didn’t know the story. But once read, it was a story that stayed with me and I can understand why Jude has been so tenacious in the long journey it has been to get it on the stage and in front of a theatre audience.


What’s it all about?

This is a story set in a very particular community in a very particular part of the world – Lightning Ridge, an opal-mining town in New South Wales, Australia. As the first step in bringing this world alive and giving it an authentic and idiosyncratic voice, we worked on the stage adaptation with award-winning Tasmanian playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer.
Ashmol and his younger sister Kellyanne, who will be played by two brilliant actors, Vic Llewellyn and Jordan Whyte, tell the story. They are both grown up now and Ashmol is following in his Dad’s footsteps – he too has become an opal miner. And like his Dad, he too is down on his luck, opals are rare to find and the dream of finding one is fading. But his sister Kellyanne is always there when things are bad, to love him, reassure him and help him remember their past. This is the heart of the story- a memory. A shared memory of when they were children.
We see brother and sister tell their story- re-enacting key moments, switching from character to character- first being their younger selves, then deciding who should play their Dad and arguing over how Mum’s voice should sound. Through the two siblings, the actors populate the stage with not only their family but also the entire population of Lightning Ridge.


What can audience’s expect?

With design by Katie Sykes, original music composed by Sarah Moody and played live by Ron Phelan – The Mysterious Vanishment Of Pobby & Dingan will be a testament to the art of great storytelling.  I can’t wait to see it with an audience experiencing this story for the first time.

It will make you laugh, it will move you, and it is a story that you will remember for a long, long time.



Pobby and Dingan is on at the Tobacco Factory 19th and 20th November, there will be post-show chats with the cast after the Monday evening and Tuesday matinee performances.