Spotlight On… Director Of Captain Flinn and The Pirate 2: The Magic Cutlass, Hal Chambers

Captain Flinn and the Pirate  Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass  UK Tour:

September – November 2016

Following a highly successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016, Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass sets sail on a UK tour.

Tickets are available from individual theatre box offices: See


I caught up with Hal Chambers, the Director:

Tell me about Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass and your vision for it…

This is a story about a boy called Flinn and his crew who have to battle the scary captain T-Rex and his merry band of pirate dinosaurs. It is based on a bonkers picture book of the same title which is full of colour, humour and swashbuckling! In directing it for the stage I wanted to make something that entertained children just as much as the adults – a true family show. My vision was a larger than life world where pirate dinosaurs sing and dance and there are discos lurking under the water! Obvious influences are Jurassic Park, Conan Doyle’s The Lost World and the big pirate ones (Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean). There is plenty to creatively plunder (forgive the pirate pun) here! There are certainly elements of horror and farce in there too. Musically a huge range of artists and genres inspired us, from Queen to Disco music, Hans Zimmer to Dubstep!

Did you have initial ideas about casting and what you wanted actors to bring to the piece?

I wanted playful actors who were good at devising. They needed to have excellent comic timing, strong singing voices and puppetry skills – a tall order. They also needed to get on well as they have to spend 4 and a half months together touring the UK. I am thrilled to say I managed to cast a wonderful bunch of silly actors – they have done great work.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

I hope they will be humming the tunes and doing impressions of the silly characters in the story. Most of all I’d love the kids to go away with an invigorated spirit of adventure that they can take into their own creative development. Maybe they’ll want to be a dinosaur or write their own story.

Did rehearsals alter your initial thoughts, at all? 

Yes definitely. Children’s picture books are so much fun to adapt as they are led by images and not necessarily words. When we rehearse we stick the images of the book all around the room to gain inspiration. But you have to put your own creative spin on things too – the book serves as an inspiration but we add our own flavours. At the beginning of the Magic Cutlass process the creative team and actors looked at the beats of the story we liked the most and then added a few of our own ideas that felt true to the spirit of the original writing. Once Oliver’s script was ready we worked very collaboratively with the actors to create visual sequences and other comic routines. Much of it was devised by the actors and I so obviously my vision altered during the rehearsals. Our composer wrote some excellent songs that helped highlight particularly memorable moments in the story. We then put the script, the visual sequences and rehearsed songs together and hoped that, through lots of hard graft and honing, the show would feel cohesive. We only really know what kind of show we have once it is in front of the kids. In the first previews we learnt a lot about the show and its impact.  This is usually the time where we add the detail to the performances to make sure they are really well nuanced. Once the first few previews were out of the way the show was officially ‘open’. The adventure had truly began!


What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

They are some brilliant songs, extremely funny actors and stunning puppets (made by Max Humphries) of all shapes and sizes. If you like dinosaurs, pirates, adventure and laughing this is the show for you! What better way to brighten up your winter!

Finally, any advice for budding directors?

Go and see lots of theatre in order to expand your reference pool. Create a company and make your own work so you can discover what your style is. Tour that work, even if you make no money to begin with. Meet programmers and artistic directors of theatres. Try and work as an assistant director on a large-scale show. Get to know other directors. Surround yourself with creative people. Be nice. Work very hard. Write stories. Dream big….

Thanks for a great interview, Hal!



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