Bringing Magic to The Wardrobe with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Interview with Tomasin Cuthbert from Soap Soup Theatre

For this adaptation of Goethe’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Soap Soup Theatre have joined forces with Open Attic Company to bring an abundance of enchantment, music and puppetry to The Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol this December.  Martha King talked with Soap Soup Theatre director, Tomasin Cuthbert, about their process behind the story and the magic that’s in store.

TSA image with title.jpg
Illustrated and Designed by Tomasin Cuthbert

What inspired you to adapt Goethe’s best-loved poem from 1797? Were there any challenges in bringing it up to date? 

I am always looking for well known stories to make into shows. For a Christmas show, the main criteria is that they have a familiar name, but also have enough space in them to be really creative. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is perfect. There is very little plot in the original poem so we can have lots of fun putting our own slant on it.

The poem’s starts with ‘apprentice tries to do magic’, ‘magic is wonderful and exciting’ and then ‘magic gets out of control’, so there is plenty of room for us to make decisions about who the sorcerer and the apprentice are, where and when the story takes place and what the world looks like.

In our version the story takes inspiration from 80s classic kids movies like Back to the Future, The Goonies, and The Explorers. Stranger Things had a big influence on the style of this show, as we love the music and design. We went back to our childhoods and have created an homage to what it was like being a kid in the 80s, combined with a healthy dollop of magic, music, dancing and puppetry to make something really special for families this year.

You are collaborating with Open Attic Company for this show. What was the process like working together and what has each company brought to the production? 

The two companies bring different skills and experience to the table. Open Attic’s representatives for this show are Adam Fuller, our Director, who has also directed four of Soap Soup’s shows over the years. There is also Dean Sudron who is designing the lighting and Vic Hole who is Co-Producing alongside myself. Soap Soup make up the rest of the team, I am designing, performing and Co-Producing the show, and Chris Menes is composing the music and sound design.

The process is very much like making any other show, always a collaboration of many talented artists and theatre makers coming together to create a shared vision. The difference with a Co-Pro is that the companies have joint responsibility for the running of the project, so we can support each other when times get tough – as they always do during the intense process of making a show.

This show is all about magic. Have you found that using puppetry has helped with creating the impossible? 

Puppetry always does that! That’s why I love it so much! But this time we have also called upon the experience of Peter Clifford who has acted as Magic Consultant for the project, so we have some extra surprises in the show this time!

What is next for Soap Soup Theatre in the New Year? 

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice goes on tour alongside The Selfish Giant, (A Co-Production with Tessa Bide Productions) which is also out this Christmas at The Pound, in Corsham, from the 21st to 24th of December .

The Selfish Giant – Photo: Paul Blakemore

I am going on maternity leave for a few months while the shows tours, but when I get back to work, I already have some ideas for a new show – my brain never seems to sleep! This one will be science fiction inspired by the graphic novelist Moebius and exploring creating a positive story about the future of humanity, but set on another world. The working title is The Rainbow Witch, so keep your eyes peeled for announcements later on in 2020!

Interview with Martha King

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is on at The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol, from the 19th to the 31st of December. Get your tickets here.

To find out more information about Soap Soup Theatre and their work, visit their website: or follow them on facebook, Instagram or twitter.

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