Superbolt’s Jurassic Park: What happened the night Sam Neill (aka Dr. Alan Grant) came to see the show, and other frequently asked questions

Did you know about the release of Jurassic World before you decided to do Jurassic Park?
No, we were very surprised when we heard about it! We made the decision so far in advance we weren’t aware it was being made. Vault Festival asked us to headline back in Spring of 2014 and by June we had decided to do Jurassic Park. The first we heard of Jurassic World was when the trailer was released and by that point we had almost finished making the show.

Why did you choose Jurassic Park?
Well, we knew we wanted to stage our own adaptation of a blockbuster film and Jurassic Park popped into our heads straight away! The film was part of our childhoods, as we all grew up in the nineties watching it with with our families and friends, so it has special familial associations for us, which we really wanted to capture onstage. We wanted to tell a story about a family, and Spielberg’s classic is full of nostalgia and familial references so it felt like the perfect choice! This was why we developed our own original story focusing on the Park family. The family are struggling to deal with the loss of their mother so hold a screening in her honour in a Lyme Regis community centre but it doesn’t go to plan. Also the challenge of putting Jurassic Park onstage with 3 performers on a shoestring budget was a huge part of the attraction! The more impossible it appeared, the more creative we had to be. We wanted to make a show that stretched us artistically while trying to reach those who might not usually go to theatre and Jurassic Park felt like the the perfect choice! Part of our training at the Jacques Lecoq Theatre school in Paris was in trying to capture the essence of a film using a physical theatrical language. We wanted to make a show that celebrates Jurassic Park and recognises how film can have a meaningful presence in real family life beyond simple entertainment. 

Is this show suitable for people who have never seen the film before?
Yes. We have had lots of people coming up to us after the show who have never seen the film before telling us how much they loved it! We even had a reviewer from A Younger Theatre who confessed she hadn’t seen the film but writes, “One thing is for certain. I’m out to get myself a copy of this film. But something tells me that film Jurassic Park will have a hard time matching up to Superbolt’s Jurassic Park.” Of course, to get all the references, it does help to have seen the film. Or just have brushed up on it on youtube! But actually we have found that Spielberg’s Jurassic Park is one of those classics where people remember the iconic moments- the trembling water, the T.Rex snapping at the children through the glass roof of a car, the velociraptors in the kitchen – even if they haven’t seen the film in years!

How did you make the show?
Initially, we started experimenting with ways to recreate bits from the film, asking “How would we do this if we just gave it a go?” We had several ideas: an immersive journey for a tourist group in a severely dysfunctional park, genuinely scary monster show, a performance art piece and many many more. Several sections made in those early days were honed and developed, making their way into the final production as something quite different from their starting point. It’s been quite a journey! The only section left completely unchanged from that first R&D week was the part focusing on ‘Mr DNA’, it just worked first time. 

We develop all our shows collaboratively, initially through a lot of improvisation and experimentation and then later with more detailed writing, character work and shaping the arc of the story. We worked on the show for two weeks of R&D and then brought in our associate director, Tid. He is fantastic at being the outside eye, directing us and shaping the show from the front so we can all stay inside of it. This means we all truly own the story as co-writers and co-creators. This has proved to be a brilliant way to collaborate, ensuring the show has clarity and depth. We followed this with intensive rehearsal time for Vault Festival and then did another two weeks development and rehearsal to get it right for Edinburgh. We regularly tweak and develop the show as it continues and we have more development ideas for it beyond Edinburgh Fringe. 

How did the Park family come about?
In all our shows, our stories are driven by characters, and we have found great freedom in not telling the story ourselves. Letting odd, quirky characters have a go at performing is a great starting point, especially when tackling something as epic as Jurassic Park. The bond between the characters is essential, and the family unit was one we were excited to explore. This dysfunctional trio from Lyme Regis has been a very inspiring group. As much as this show has tested our own creativity, it has tested their creativity too. After all, it’s really their reimagining of the film.

Why did you choose to set it in Lyme Regis?
Lyme Regis is the Jurassic Capital of the English coast and is the go-to place for any passionate paleontologist. Although she passed away, their paleontologist mother Madeleine is ever-present, so living in Lyme Regis means the family is reminded of her wherever they go and whenever they watch the Jurassic Park film.

What happened the night Sam Neill (aka Dr. Alan Grant) came to see the show?
Well it was a complete surprise! No one knew he was coming. We greet members of the audience in character as they come into the theatre but in the excitement of starting the show we didn’t realise it was him! But then just before the lights went down, Simon went to the back of theatre to get clearance so we could start the show and a producer from another show at Assembly festival who had spotted Sam Neill, whispered the news to him while he was in character as Noah! By this time, Maria (Jade) and Frode (Terry) were already on stage, completely oblivious to his presence! So Simon performed the whole show knowing the original Dr. Grant was watching, while Maria and Frode had no clue. After the show, Sam was so nice, coming up and congratulating us, shaking our hands and saying “it was wonderful” and then joking “my lawyers will be in touch”. He told us what it was like shooting the T. Rex scene for real and asked us about future plans for the show. We had a photograph together, said goodbye and packed up as usual, full of smiles! We couldn’t wait to get outside to tell Tid, but by the time we had got there everyone was already talking about it! The audience were buzzing once they realised he’d been watching!

Then after the show Sam tweeted he’d been there too:

We replied, in the excitement missing out a word – *you

Then he replied

It was a surreal and wonderful night. We grew up watching this guy in one of our favorite films and then out of nowhere he’s watching us. And who knows maybe the Park Family will take a trip to the West End.

If you have any other question you would really like us to answer, tweet us @superboltplays be great to hear from you!