"...every precious treasure, every scribbling for today and plan for tomorrow – is made of and fuelled by wonder. Wonder is essential for balance, for survival."
Meet The Great Un-Wondering of Wilbur Whittaker playwright, Dan Giovannoni
Describe The Great Un-Wondering of Wilbur Whittaker in 3 words.
Stars, Guardians, Shoeboxes
What inspired you to write the play?
Luke came to me with an idea to write a play that smashed together elements of The Little Prince, 80s adventure films and She-Ra: Princess of Power. We wanted to make something about the importance of creativity, of wondering, all throughout your life, not just when you’re a kid.
What does WONDER mean to you and why is it important?
In the early stages of developing Wilbur, Luke and I spoke to lots of young people about growing up, and something that kept coming up in our conversations was how the grown-ups they know often seem to lose something when they get big – their sense of playfulness fades, their creativity quietens, their sense of wonder at the world is diminished. In our play, wonder is something that underpins everything. Every wondering someone has – every hope and wish, every precious treasure, every scribbling for today and plan for tomorrow – is made of and fuelled by wonder. Wonder is essential for balance, for survival.
How do you keep wonder alive in your life?
I play, with my dogs or my kid. I teach young people. I write.
Tell us a little about the world/s of the play. How do you come up with such fantastical ideas?
I thought about our main character, Wilbur, and thought about what kind of adventure he needed to go on in order to re-ignite his sense of wonder. Luke had already suggested that his sidekick might be a little princess called Princess Fantastic, and so with the two of them in mind, and inspired by lots of 80s adventure films and the images and ideas in The Little Prince, I created a bunch of characters and situations that might help Wilbur learn some lessons. There are lots of characters that didn’t make it into the final script – Roger the motivational speaker, Belcher the mucus-covered ticket inspector and Garbàge the talking rubbish bin among my favourites.
What would you love for audiences to experience or think about when seeing The Great Un-Wondering of Wilbur Whittaker?
I want kids to think about how important it is to hold onto their sense of wonder as they grow up, and to think about ways they might be able to do that. And I want grown-ups to think the same thing but in reverse – to remember that just because they’re older now, the wonder-seeking spirit still lives in them; if they’ve lost it, they just need to find it again.
Why should families come and see The Great Un-Wondering of Wilbur Whittaker?
Because it’s a deeply poetic intergalactic adventure that will take families across the universe into the deepest parts of outer space, and the deepest parts of themselves. Plus there’s a sword-wielding Princess and milkshakes and karaoke and bin juice and one joke about carparking.
The Great Un-Wondering of Wilbur Whittaker is heavily influenced by 80s music; do you have a favourite 80s song?
Freedom – Wham!
Want to learn more about Dan Giovannoni?
Dan talks about HOUSE and being a playwright here