Slingsby and State Theatre Company South Australia, in association with Adelaide Festival

Adapted for the stage by Amy Conroy
From the book by Martin McKenna published by Skyhorse Publishing
Developed with the assistance of Draíocht Arts Centre, Dublin 15, Ireland

About

Young Martin is a misfit. Bullied at school and misunderstood at home, his only comfort comes from sneaking off to the family coal shed to bond with his German Shepherds, Major and Rex.

When things reach breaking point, the 13 year old runs away from his home in Limerick, Ireland, and finds himself taken in by a new family – a pack of stray dogs. As they dodge trains, steal meals and fight for survival, Martin finds himself on the road he was always meant to take.

Based on the best-selling memoir, this rough-and-tumble tale, starring acclaimed Irish actor Bryan Burroughs, fuses shadow puppetry, swinging Irish music and stunning physical performance to bring Byron Bay ‘Dog Man’ Martin McKenna’s epic true story to the stage for the first time.

Beautifully adapted by Irish playwright Amy Conroy, The Boy Who Talked to Dogs is a magical and mischievous tale of transformation, redemption, and what happens when the underdog finds his pack.

The Boy Who Talked to Dogs Teaser

Meet the creative team

Andy Packer

CEO & Artistic Director

Andy is an award-winning director of theatre, music theatre and opera.

Andy is an award-winning director of theatre, music theatre and opera. He has also worked as creative producer of multidisciplinary arts programs, creative director of large-scale events and festival director. In 2007 Andy co-founded Adelaide based theatre company Slingsby. The company is now well-established as a leading international immersive theatre company, having toured to more than 170 venues, with over 1,000 performances across 13 countries and counting.

Andy is renowned for creating original live performance moments that are emotionally powerful and visually bold. His work across theatre for young audiences, opera, cabaret, music theatre and symphonic concerts has pushed him to develop a distinctive theatrical aesthetic that is at once personal and epic.

Andy has directed productions and events for Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Opera of South Australia, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Adelaide Festival of Arts, Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide Chamber Singers, Australian String Quartet, Windmill Theatre, Restless Dance, Tutti Ensemble, Rundle Mall Management Authority and the International Astronautical Federation. In 2019 Andy was Show Director for the World of Wearable Art Awards Show in Wellington, New Zealand.

Amy Conroy

Playwright

Amy Conroy is an actor, playwright and Artistic Director of HotForTheatre.

Her first radio play, Hold This, was recorded and broadcast on RTÉ Radio One in September 2010. Her first stage play, I Alice I, won the Fishamble Award for New Writing in the 2010 Dublin Fringe Festival and has enjoyed sold out runs in the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival, the Peacock stage of the Abbey Theatre Dublin, The Irish Arts Centre in New York, Lókal festival in Iceland, Glasgay Festival in Glasgow, The World Theatre Festival in Brisbane, Australia, Auckland Arts Festival in New Zealand, Ten Days on the Island Festival in Tasmania, Queer Theatre Festival Croatia, Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris and The Lyric Theatre Belfast. It was broadcast on RTE Radio One, has been translated and performed in Poland, Italy and Iceland and is published by Oberon.

Her second show, Eternal Rising of the Sun, won the Best Female Performer Award when it premiered at Dublin Fringe Festival 2011. Her performance as Gina Devine also earned her a nomination for Best Actress in the Irish Times Theatre Awards 2011. Eternal Rising of the Sun has enjoyed successful runs in the Dublin Theatre Festival 2012, Fringe World in Perth, Australia, and a staged reading in Sydney Theatre Company. In September 2013, Amy and her company HotForTheatre presented Break, which combined spoken word, music and text. Set in an Irish secondary school it exposed and interrogated the failures and triumphs of our education system. Luck Just Kissed You Hello premiered at the Mick Lally Theatre as part of the Galway International Arts Festival in 2015, concluded a sell out run for the Dublin Theatre Festival later the same year, it was nominated for Best New Play in the Irish Times Theatre Awards 2016 and toured nationally. Amy has performed in countless production over the years, most recently a critically acclaimed production of The Taming of the Shrew at the Globe Theatre, London, directed by Caroline Byrne, Futureproof, directed by Tom Creed, My Son My Son, directed by Veronica Dyas, A Day In May, directed by Gerry Stembridge, A Midsummers Night’s Dream, directed by Lynne Parker and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (DTF 2018), directed by Ronan Phelan. She recently directed Me Sara (Priming the Canon) for the Abbey Theatre, which played in the Peacock and toured nationally, Looking Deadly (Dublin Fringe – National tour) and Here and Now by Veronica Dyas, performed as part of Thisispopbaby’s Where We Live Festival.

Amy is a Six in the Attic Alumni, is currently Writer in Residence with Rough Magic Theatre Company and is Associate Writer with The Abbey Theatre.

Lisa O’Neill

Song Writer

Lisa O’Neill from County Cavan is an Irish songwriter like no other.

Her roots may be sourced in folk and traditional music but her work opens up a landscape beyond any settled sense of genre. On her last album, Pothole in the Sky, she set her remarkable incisive voice against impressionistic instrumental back-drops, like Margaret Barry colluding with the Dirty Three or some such meeting of minds. Lisa is not shy of collaboration, and her performances

across Ireland, Europe and beyond have featured many great musicians of all ages and traditions. In January this year, she joined a stellar cast of great songwriters and musicians to celebrate the birthday of Shane McGowan at the National Concert Hall. Earlier this year she accepted an invitation from the National Gallery of Ireland to respond to works in the Frederic William Burton: For the Love of Art exhibition, which resulted in another spellbinding performance. In April she put together a critically acclaimed show for the Abbey Theatre in Dublin with writer Pat McCabe, and musicians Ian Lynch (Lankum) and Cass McCombs.

Over the years she has quietly built a reputation for herself on the Irish and international scenes and now has a growing following with her unique folk sound, strong song-writing and distinctive voice. Her debut release ‘Has an Album’ was followed in 2013 by Choice- nominated ‘Same Cloth Or Not’. Her third and most recent album ‘Pothole in the Sky’ was released to critical acclaim and is filled with tension and emotion, contextualizing themes of love, loss, heartache and sorrow today through referencing tales from the past with beauty, honesty and defiance. Lisa is currently working on new material for a fourth studio album scheduled for release in the Autumn of 2018.

Bryan Burroughs

Performer

Bryan Burroughs is a leading Irish performer who will join Slingsby for the first time on The Boy Who Talked to Dogs.

Bryan trained at the Samuel Beckett Centre at Trinity College Dublin.

Noteworthy performances include My Foot/My Tutor with Articulate Anatomy (Best Male Performance at Dublin Fringe Festival 2004), Barabbas Theatre Company’s Johnny Patterson : The Singing Irish Clown ( Irish Times Theatre Award Best Supporting Actor 2009) and regularly performs his one man show Beowulf : The Blockbuster which originated as a Show In A Bag and has toured Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Australia, New York and was the number one success of the Edinburgh Fringe 2014 winning the STAGE Award for Acting Excellence.

Other notable productions include Act Without Words 2 by Samuel Beckett for Company SJ which most recently performed at the Barbican in London and the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. He also regularly performs in a two hander adaptation of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol with Aaron Monaghan nationally, at The Ark and The Pavilion for Christmas 2022. He played Quasimodo in Angela’s Ashes : The Musical in 2017 & 2019 and Lenehan in the returning production of James Joyce’s ULYSSES at The Abbey Theatre in Oct 2017 & July 2018. Other productions in 2021 & 2022 include TARRY FLYNN with Livin’ Dred, ( Nominated for Irish Times Theatre Award Best Ensemble ), Beowulf : The Blockbuster, 14 Voices From The Bloodied Field and The Long Christmas Dinner at The Abbey Theatre in Dec 2021 & 2022 ( Nominated for Irish Times Theatre Award Best Ensemble ). Due to be performed at DTF 2023 followed by an Irish Tour is The Boy Who Talked To Dogs by Amy Conroy as a Slingsby/Draiocht coproduction which played at the 2021 Adelaide Festival and toured Australia for 2022.

As director Bryan has directed The Whispering Chair for Livin’ Dred in 2022, Fight Night and The Games People Play for RISE productions written by Gavin Kostick which won Best Actor and the Bewleys Little Gem Award at Dublin Fringe 2010 and Best New Play at the Irish Times Theatre Awards 2013 respectively.

As Movement Director recent productions include Druid’s Beauty Queen of Leenane, Umbrella’s Glowworm, Fishamble’s Inside The GPO, Yew Tree’s Alone It Stands, Pat Moylan’s Stones In His Pockets, Tarry Flynn, The Skriker at the Lir Academy, BrokenCrow’s Levin & Levin, at the Abbey Fool For Love, The Wake and for Second Age Hamlet and Macbeth.

For RTE Bryan has appeared on RTE Jr’s The Beo Show teaching drama to young children, written four short stories for the Tell Me A Story series, written and performed a Christmas short story for the Cór Na Nóg Christmas Concert and directed Fight Night for RTE’s Radio Drama season

Bryan has taught physical theatre at The Lir Academy of Dramatic Art and Accademia D’ell Arte, Arezzo, Tuscany.

Quincy Grant

Composer

Quincy Grant composes music for theatre, concert stage and film.

Quincy lives as a freelance composer on commissions from musicians around Australia and internationally. He has written and performed a lot of music for the theatre, working with companies such as Slingsby, Circa, Brink Productions, Queensland Theatre, and State Theatre SA.  He also writes for concert performances and film, and plays in many groups: from rock to new music and, most recently wild gypsy music with Golonka, sweet light classical tunes with The Horizon Quartet, and rollicking sea-song rock with Mumpsimus. He is co-director of The Firm, a company that presents concerts each year featuring Australian classical musicians in programs of new Australian music along-side interesting repertoire.  In 2020 he is writing a new opera, When the Rain Stops Falling, with Andrew Bovell, co-creating a new Slingsby production for the 2021 Adelaide Festival, and composing a music theatre work with writer Kathryn Marquet for Little Match Productions, Brisbane.

Victoria Falconer

Performer / Musician

Victoria Falconer is an award-winning musical director, composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist.

Victoria Falconer (she/her) is a show-maker, multi-instrumentalist and performer working across cabaret, theatre and musicals. Recent work includes creation of site-specific cabaret work THE SIGHT (Dark Mofo 2023); creating and performing THE VALI MYERS PROJECT (Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Frank Ford Commission winner); creating and hosting SMASHED: THE BRUNCH PARTY (Sydney Festival, Adelaide Fringe) and musical direction on GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (Sydney World Pride), GODSPELL (Hayes Theatre Co) and LIZZIE (Sydney Festival). Other MD credits include OKLAHOMA! (Black Swan State Theatre), ONCE (Darlinghurst Theatre Company) and COURTNEY ACT (London/Sydney). Victoria has received nominations for a Sydney Theatre Award and a Green Room Award for musical direction, won Overall Best Cabaret at Adelaide Fringe twice (2018/2011), and Spirit of the Fringe with GLITTERY CLITTERY (Edinburgh Fringe 2018).

Victoria was appointed Co-Artistic Director of Hayes Theatre Co (Sydney) in November 2022, alongside Richard Carroll. She is a founding member of The People Of Cabaret, an initiative formed to advocate for performing artists identifying as Indigenous and/or Bla(c)k and/or People of Colour.

Emma Luker

Emma Luker is a fiddle player, violinist, performer, teacher and session player based in Adelaide, South Australia.

She has performed interstate and internationally as a band member and theatre performer.

Emma is a member for original folk duo The Fiddle Chicks, as well as several other bands in Adelaide, and performs regularly with folk singer Eric Bogle. She has been noticed and acclaimed as a violinist of sensitivity and versatility.

“ …One of the most accomplished musicians I have had the pleasure of working with during my musical career, and I’ve worked with a few. It’s not just because of the technical mastery of her instrument, impressive though that is, it’s something rare and more tangible than that… I’d call it total empathy.” – (Eric Bogle, OAM)

Wendy Todd

Designer

Wendy is an Adelaide based designer of theatre, events and spaces. Wendy has worked extensively with Slingsby since 2007.

Wendy is an Adelaide based designer of theatre, events and spaces. Recent production designs (Set & Costume Design for all productions) include: Nursery 2014, (Sally Chance Dance), Babyteeth 2013, Blasted 2012, Pornography 2012 (State Theatre Company of South Australia), Land & Sea 2012, Skip Miller’s Hit Songs 2011, Harbinger 2010 (Brink Productions), Man Covets Bird 2010, The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy 2007 (Slingsby), Worldhood 2011 (Australian Dance Theatre), A Lion In The Night 2012, The Little Green Tractor 2011 (Patch Theatre Company), Cutaway III, 2013 & II, 2012  (Vitalstatistix), Ruby Bruise 2010 (The Misery Children & Vitalstatistix). Recent event designs: Designer Blink Bar 2015 Adelaide Festival of Arts Precinct, Design Assistant/Coordinator Lola’s Pergola 2014, Design Coordinator of Barrio 2013 & 2012, Assistant Designer Persian Garden 2008 & 2006 (Late Night Clubs of the Adelaide Festival of Arts), Event and Gala Designer Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2015, Design Coordinator Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2014 (Adelaide Festival Centre), Bowerbird Design Markets 2014, 2013, 2012.

Chris Petridis

Lighting Designer

Chris is a lighting and video designer from Adelaide. Following his completion of the Technical Production course at the Adelaide Centre of the Arts, Chris has continued to develop his experience across theatre, dance, and other live events in Australia and internationally

Chris is a Lighting and Video Designer. Following his completion of the Technical Production course at the Adelaide Centre of the Arts, Chris has continued to develop his experience across theatre, dance, and other live events in Australia including:

  • 2021: Creation Creation by Windmill Theatre Company; Hiccup! by Windmill Theatre Company; The Boy Who Talked to Dogs by Slingsby
  • 2020: The Bleeding Tree by Theatre Republic; Of All Things by Alison Currie for ADT; Anatomy of a Suicide by Flinders University Drama Centre; Lighthouse by Patch Theatre Company; Incognito by Flinders University Drama Centre
  • 2019: World of Wearable Art 2019; Madama Butterfly by State Opera of South Australia; A View from the Bridge by State Theatre Company SA; Cher by Vitalstatistix; ZOOM by Patch Theatre Company; 13 Ways to Look at Birds feat. Paul Kelly by GWB; Femme by Erin Fowler Projects; Zizanie by Restless.
  • 2018: Lines by Theatre Republic; World of Wearable Art 2018 with Bluebottle; SOLO (Sea Wall & Bitch Boxer) by Flying Penguin Productions; Julius Caesar by Flinders University Drama Centre; Songs for those who come across the Sea by Slingsby; Brothers Wreck by Malthouse Theatre & State Theatre; Baba Yaga by Windmill Theatre Company; Terrestrial by State Theatre Company of South Australia; In The Club by State Theatre; The Walk of Fame Gala by the Adelaide Festival Centre
  • 2017: Angelique by Is This Yours? ; Beep by Windmill Theatre Company ; Emil and the Detectives by Slingsby; Vigil by the Adelaide Cabaret Festival ; Mr Burns by State Theatre Company of South Australia & Belvoir St Theatre; Long Tan by Brink Productions 2016: Ingition 2016 by ADT; Love & Information by Flinders University Drama Centre; Juliet Letters by Flying Penguin Productions; Gorgon by State Theatre Company; Beginning of Nature (WOMAD) by ADT

Ailsa Paterson

Designer

Ailsa has worked extensively as a set and costume designer in theatre, opera, dance, film and TV.

Ailsa completed the Bachelor of Dramatic Art in Design (NIDA) in 2003. Costume Design credits for Slinsgby include Slingsby’s Flying Squad; The Boy Who Talked To Dogs; Emil and the Detectives; Mouse, Bird and Sausage; You, Me and the Bloody Sea and Ode to Nonsense. Design credits for State Theatre Company of SA include Sense and Sensibility, Switzerland, The 39 Steps, Beckett Triptych (Footfalls, Eh Joe, Krapp’s Last Tape), The Importance of Being Earnest, In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play, War Mother, The Ham Funeral, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), The Price and The Cripple of Inishmaan.  Costume Design credits include A Doll’s House, Things I Know to be True, Little Bird, The Seagull and Three Sisters. Other theatre design credits include The 39 Steps (Queensland Theatre), Yo Diddle Diddle and Cranky Bear (Patch), Vigil (Adelaide Cabaret Festival), Debut5 and Naturally (Restless) and Cloudstreet! (Costume Design, State Opera of SA).

Ailsa received the 2011 Mike Walsh Fellowship.

Darian Tregenza

Lighting Design & Technician

Darian is a lighting, vision, and multiskilled technician and designer from South Australia.

Since graduating from Adelaide College of the Arts’ technical production course, he has gained valuable experience through his time working in local venues, theatre and dance companies, at festivals, on installations, and events. He has toured extensively with shows such as Patch Theatre’s Yo Diddle Diddle, Anna Goldworthy’s Piano Lessons, Slingsby Theatre’s The Young King, Emil & The Detectives, and The Boy Who Talked to Dogs among others.

David McLean

David joined Slingsby in 2022 for the Australian Tour of The Boy Who Talked to Dogs and from this has now joined the Company as their Production Manager.

David started working in theatre from 1979 to 1988 with the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust (AFCT) Production Department as a Mechanist and Flyman. 1n 1981 he went on his first tour with State Opera South Australia touring Regional South Australia with Don Pasquale and then again in 1982 with Cossi Van Tutti.

From 1889 through to 1994 he worked as Head Flyman / Rigger for the Australian Opera Company working mainly at The Sydney Opera House and Victorian Arts Centre and touring as required.

For the second half of 1994 through 1995 David was Head Mechanist with the Canberra Theatre Centre in the Australian Capital Territory.

Upon returning home to Adelaide South Australia in 1996 David was firstly Head Mechanist of the Festival Theatre and then from 2000 through to 2004 was Technical Coordinator for the AFCT Production Department.

From 2005 through to 2018 he was Production Manager for State Opera South Australia, Production Coordinator for Adelaide Fringe 2009, 20010, 2011, 2013 and a Production Coordinator for Adelaide Festival (AF) 2006 and 2008.

From 2019 through to 2023 David was the Production Manager for Adelaide Festival’s Operas.

Laura Palombella

Laura studied at the Adelaide College of the Arts, graduating in 2014 with an Advanced Diploma in Stage Management.

Laura has worked with State Theatre Company South Australia since 2015. Her show credits as Assistant Stage Manager include Beckett TriptychMachu PicchuThe 39 Steps in 2016 and its 2019 tour, SwitzerlandThe Gods of Strangers, HydraJasper Jones and Dance Nation. Laura worked on the 2017 national tour of George Orwell’s 1984 and its 2018 international tour in Auckland and Singapore.

Her Stage Management credits for State Theatre Company South Australia include Antigone, Girls & Boys, Eureka Day and The Boy Who Talked to Dogs (with Slingsby for Adelaide Festival). Laura also works with Slingsby and was stage manager for the touring production of Emil and the Detectives.

Her other credits include Stage Managing the U.S tour of Bluey’s Big Play (BBC Studios and Andrew Kay in association with Windmill Theatre); Co-Assistant Stage Managing the 2019 Adelaide season of Kay and McLean’s production of North by Northwest and working with Windmill Theatre Co, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, OzAsia Festival, Adelaide Fringe Festival and WOMADelaide.

Jamie Mensforth

Jamie Mensforth is a Sound Technician and Sound Designer specialising in music theatre works.

Jamie Mensforth has completed a Bachelor of Music Performance at the University of Adelaide, and a Diploma of Sound Production at Tafe SA.

He is celebrated for his consultative approach to any process, and for obtaining clear vocal tones and moving musical mixes.

He has worked as mix engineer for Womadelaide, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Adelaide Guitar Festival, Rumpelstiltskin (Windmill Theatre Company), And Then You Go – The Vali Myers Project (Victoria Falconer), and others.

Jamie’s sound design credits include-  Pirates Of Penzance, Hms Pinafore and The Sorcerer (State Opera South Australia), Spring Awakening, Cabaret, Mamma Mia, Urinetown, In Pieces, Legally Blonde, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Sweeney Todd,  A Chorus Line (Elder Conservatory Music Theatre), Godspell (Irregular Productions and Lydian Productions), Stars in the Arena (The Primary Schools Music Festival).

Jamie is also a skilled Exhibition video works technician having assisted Rolf De Heer & Molly Reynolds, Amos Gebhardt, Madison Bycroft and Lisa Reihana.

Production Credits

What people are saying

“Exquisite in every respect, this world premiere theatrical adaption of outsider Martin McKenna’s memoir is as unconventionally delightful as the author himself… Once again, Slingsby Artistic Director Andy Packer has triumphed in fusing all these disparate elements together like some kind of theatrical alchemist, to create an entirely original experience which is equally engaging for adult and teenage audiences.” The Advertiser

“It is theatre like the work Slingsby produces which makes us all imagine a better and happier world. If more theatre were like this, the world would be a magical place indeed.”

Australian Stage Online