EVERYONE knows dragons don’t exist – but an ARENAarts stage guards2production of Terry Pratchett’s popular Discworld novel Guards! Guards! may prove otherwise.

Dying of Alzheimer’s in early 2015, Pratchett was the UK’s best-selling author of the 1990s, selling more than 85 million books worldwide in 37 languages.

Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! is described as a “comedic adventure of dragons, dastardly plans, dire deeds and decidedly dramatic dramas” as a fiendish plot to take over the City of Ahnk-Morpork unfolds.

A dragon from the world of beyond is summoned to torch the city and terrorise the citizens into submission – and the only folk to stand in the way is a decimated City Watch made up of a drunk, coward, petty thief and rather earnest six-foot tall dwarf.

Directed by Simon James at Belmont’s Latvian Centre Theatre, he says Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! is a fun play of quirky characters, odd villains and lovable puppets.

guards4“It’s a comedy and an adventure at heart,” he said. “We have a cast of 18 playing more than 35 roles.

“Creating characters that live off the page and become alive on stage as real characters is the challenge to tackle and overcome.

“Each new character needs to not only look different but walk and talk in various ways so we’ve had workshops on the physicality of individual roles and voice characterisation.”

Currently artistic director of ARENAarts, where he has a more than 25-year association, James has written and directed more than 50 plays and has worked with the Old Mill, Stirling, Hayman and Pocket Theatres, Canning Players, Theatre-go-round, Curtain Up Drama Group and Constable Care over the past 30 years while also appearing in numerous theatre-in-education productions.

He has been named best director at Dramafest twice, the annual state drama festival, for The Bear and When Elvis Met Nixon and was recognised for best set design at the 2012 Finley Awards for The Miracle Worker and the 2013 Hills Festival of Theatre for The Bald Prima Donna.

As a storyteller, James also has 24 years’ experience performing The Storykeeper during Children’s Book Week, as well as Clay Tales – storytelling and pottery workshops for people with disabilities.

ARENAarts has previously staged numerous adaptations of Terry Pratchett’s books, including Wyrd guards3Sisters, Lords and Ladies, Carpe Jugulum, Monstrous Regiment, Going Postal and Maskerade.

“When Terry Pratchett died last year, ARENAarts sort to honour his life and works with our production of Maskerade,” James said.

“I called upon people who had been involved with ARENAarts since our first Pratchett production in 2001 – they came and the show was a doozie!

“At the time, I thought it would be my last Pratchett show but there was a lot of support from audiences and actors to do more shows.

“So with support and nagging, Guards! Guards! became a reality.”

Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! plays at 8pm October 21, 22, 28, 29, November 3, 4 and 5 with 2pm matinees October 23, 30 and November 6. Tickets are $22, $16 concession and $10 children (under 16) – book on 9399 9947, [email protected] or at www.trybooking.com/LUCB.

The Latvian Centre Theatre is at 60 Cleaver Terrace, Belmont, WA.