Bambert's Book of Lost Stories Adapter and Director Luke Kerridge writes a letter from Bambert, an impossibly small man with an enormous love for writing, and sends it out into the world.
This letter you hold in your hands has travelled a very long way to find you. It has sailed across the skies, battling the winds and weather and chance, looking for you. I sent it away with nothing but a wish. If you are reading this, my wish has come true.
Let me explain.
I was born a tiny thing, so small that my parents could cradle me in the palm of their hands. “Impossible!” is what the doctors called me, but my parents named me Bambert. I grew a little bit, but not like the other children did. The doctors tried to fix me – stretching my sinews, breaking and resetting my bones – until finally they had to admit, I would never be any taller. I grew old, but not up. No one could explain it, no one could change it. I was indeed, ‘Impossible’.
I soon discovered the world was not built for a man like me – my little footsteps could not keep up, my quiet voice could not be heard, my skin was just not thick enough. I was laughed at and pitied and plagued by the feeling I did not belong here – that I had been marooned in some foreign world, shipwrecked on the far side of a dream. I had no choice but to accept it: I did not fit into this world, quite literally.
So, I built my own world.
I had the little attic I lived in completely renovated and everything resized to fit me perfectly. A tiny elevator was installed to connect me to the grocery shop below so that Mr Bloom, the shopkeeper, could send up whatever I needed.
I made sure I never had to go outside again. Ever. I lived a quiet life, but not a sad one. You see, my body may have failed me, but my mind had not. The world might have been unkind to me, but I knew how to make other worlds.
I began to write.
In my stories I was free in a way I could never be in the outside world. I could travel through time and space as I wished, my body no longer a hindrance. I could finally express all of the things I’d been told to keep on the inside, even my darkest of feelings. I created characters who were so real to me it was as if they were made of flesh and blood. I cared for them so dearly they became my family.
My stories became my refuge, but also my resistance. They were my challenge to an indifferent, violent world that values what is big and loud and fast over what is small and gentle and slow. For the first time in my life, I felt powerful. With just a pen and a blank page I could give voice to the smallest people, to forgotten people, to people who dared to see the world differently. I could propose a different way of looking, one that valued art and beauty and truth above all else. I could undo the very worst chapters of history and create new worlds where love prevailed.
I wrote my stories into a big book that I called my Book of Wishes. As it slowly filled up, my faith in my act of resistance grew. I was taking a stand, however small, against the cruelty of the world. I was writing a kinder, gentler world into existence. Then suddenly, I was struck by a fault in my plan. If my stories were living, breathing things, then hadn’t I trapped them in my Book of Wishes? I knew too well what it felt like to be trapped – in my body, in my attic – hadn’t I done the exact same thing to my stories, my characters? I could hear them crying out to be free, a cry I knew too well. I realised that if my stories were truly to be an act of resistance, I needed to let them go out into the world, to give them the freedom I had always longed for.
And that is when I had my big idea, an idea so big it would take the whole world to make it happen. I tore my stories, my life’s work, out of my Book of Wishes. I folded each one into an envelope and attached them to a little hot air balloon that I ordered from Mr Bloom’s shop below. And then, I set my stories free. One by one I sent them out of my attic window carried by nothing but a gentle breeze and a small wish. Watching them float away on the night sky, off to find their new homes, was the happiest moment of my life.
Writing my stories had been my way of defying my circumstances, of standing up to the world – a world that had forsaken me, a world that I had rejected in return. In the end, my stories led me back to the world because that is where they belonged. Setting my stories free was my way of adding myself back into the world – a small, Bambert-sized republic of undefeated spirit. It was an act of hope. Hope that my stories would find their own homes, hope that they would finally be heard, hope that my little wishes might make a difference. To be this small, faced with a world this large, and still have hope – that was my true act of resistance.
I sent this letter, the letter you are holding in your hands, out into the world the same way I sent my stories – on a little hot air balloon, with a wish. I sent it in search of someone who loves stories the way I do, someone who understands that to tell a story can sometimes be the most beautiful thing a person can do, because it is an act of hope. If you are reading this letter, that someone is you. My wish is that this letter lights a little fire in your heart, one fuelled by hope. I hope my story reminds you that, no matter how small you sometimes feel, you can make a difference. It only takes a wish.
The world is waiting for your story.
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Luke Kerridge is an award-winning theatre director. His most recent work, Bambert's Book of Lost Stories, won a Helpmann Award for Best Presentation for Children and was nominated for Best New Australian Work (2016). Dream Home by Emilie Collyer, a work Luke directed in 2015, was nominated for seven Melbourne Green Room Awards and Luke won the award for Direction. He has also directed works for Red Stitch Actors Theatre, MKA Theatre of New Writing, St Martins Youth Arts Centre, The Victorian College of the Arts, ATYP, and Melbourne Theatre Company’s Cybec Electric Program. Luke completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Directing at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2012. He is currently the Associate Artist at St Martins Youth Arts Centre.
Image Credit: Matt Biocich