The Return of Us

The Return of Us

2021

Devised and directed by
Tim Benjamin
Music Director
Ellie Slorach
Designers
Kathy Kim, Andrew Kim & Sue Walpole

“What will happen ... when we return??”

The Return of Us is a film and live event featuring giant puppets, a choir, and a contrabass clarinet - questioning whether our relationship with the natural world will change, once we come out of post-Covid isolation, to be released/launched in Autumn 2021.

Supported by funding from Arts Council England and supported by the British Film Institute


A girl plays in the field near the old wood with her friends. Their toy plane crashes into the trees, but they don't dare enter, and return home empty-handed. But one night during the dark days of 2020 the little girl has a dream about the Beast that lives in the forest... as it wonders, no longer hiding from human-kind in the silence of lockdown, what will happen when they come back?

“I want to capture on film a magical forest, incredibly lush and vibrant colours, which will contrast with the bright artificial colours worn by the young girl and provide a suitably enchanting backdrop for the Beast”
Tim Benjamin (writer and director)

Behind the scenes...

Production stills by Craig Shaw Photography

Some of the stars of the film
Some of the stars of the film
Tim Benjamin preparing a shot
Tim Benjamin preparing a shot
Violet and Andrew
Violet and Andrew
Andrew Kim getting onto stilts
Andrew Kim getting onto stilts, assisted by Kathy Kim
A still from the filmA still from the filmA still from the filmA still from the filmA still from the film
Scenes from 'The Return of Us'
The voice of the beast
The voice of the Beast - contrabass clarinet played by Sarah Watts

Making The Beast

The character of "The Beast" is a key figure in this production - inspired by the legends of Herne the Hunter and the Wild Hunt, along with more recent apparitions from fiction such as Tolkein's treants. The costume is built on a giant scale, designed to be worn by a stilt-walker yet agile enough to interact with other actors.

Starting with a "mood board" - a collection of images gathering together the production's visual inspiration - the costume was then built by Kathy Kim and Andrew Kim of Thingumajig Theatre.

Moodboard for 'The Return of Us'
Part of the moodboard for the production's design, showing the inspiration for The Beast

Expert giant puppet makers Thingumajig Theatre created and performed the Beast - which is a combination of a large mask, antlers, and an elaborate costume to fit over a stilt walker. Kathy Kim made the costume and hand-dyed the fabric, while Andrew Kim made the head and hooves. During the film shoot, Andrew played the Beast on stilts, and was assisted by Kathy.

“The head is sculpted on a clay mould and will be formed with a heat-formed material. Meanwhile, fabric is hand dyed to an earthy palette”
Andrew Kim

Work in progress - making The Beast (by Andrew Kim)
Work in progress - making The Beast (by Thingumajig Theatre)