3 male characters in play
Calendar, Children, January 2020, Theatre

Children: Theatre: Fantastic Mr Fox

22 – 26 January @ State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Presented by Shake & Stir Theatre and PTT ·

Roald Dahl’s much-loved Fantastic Mr Fox will leap off the page and onto the State Theatre Centre of WA stage from 22 to 26 January 2020 in a “jaw-droppingly”, visually-spectacular, critically-acclaimed production for the whole family.

Published in 1970, Fantastic Mr Fox displays the full array of Dahl’s hilarious wit: it’s an action-thriller-suspense-comedy overflowing with cunning plans, explosions and chases, not to mention mischief, mayhem and humongous belly laughs. Mr Fox lives in the wood, in a hole, under a huge tree with Mrs Fox and their small Fox family. Every night, Mr Fox leaves the hole to steal food from three horrible farmers –Boggis, Bunce and Bean – one fat, one short, one lean.

“This is epic theatre for young people: actors interacting with full-stage animation on a huge 12-metre tall set that houses a bag-full of theatrical tricks – it’s thrilling, cutting-edge theatre that appeals to people of all ages,” he said.

More info:
www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/state-theatre-centre-of-wa/whats-on/roald-dahls-fantastic-mr-fox/

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Cartoon image of boy and fox
Calendar, Children, February 2020, January 2020, Performing arts, Theatre

Children: The Little Prince

13 Jan 13 – 1 Feb @ Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle ·
Presented by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre ·#

Immerse yourself in the imagination of a child during the January school holidays with Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s acclaimed production of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Saint-Exupéry’s exquisite tale tells the story of a curious prince who leaves his tiny planet for an adventure that reveals the essential things in life can only be discovered with the heart. For more than 70 years this timeless story has awakened the imagination of readers of all ages.

Duration: 45 mins
Perfect for 5+ but suitable for everyone!
Shows at 10am and 1pm daily. No performances Sundays or public holidays.

More info
W: www.sppt.asn.au/
E:  boxoffice@sppt.asn.au

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Child playing xylophone
Calendar, Children, Music, November 19, Performing arts

Music: EChO Kids’ Concerts in Kwinana

12 November @ Darius Wells Library & Resource Centre, Kwinana ·
Presented by West Australian Symphony Orchestra ·

After a booked out performance in 2018, we are back with two performances of March Along with EChO!

Join EChO (WASO’s 15-piece Education Chamber Orchestra) and presenter Libby Hammer. Featuring a selection of well-known nursery rhymes alongside fun original works, and the chance to sing along. March Along with EChO! is a perfect introduction to the instruments of the orchestra.

FREE EVENT
Suitable for 0-6 year olds
Book now – call 9326 0002
Bookings essential for this free concert

More info:
www.waso.com.au/concerts-tickets/whats-on/concert/echo-kids-concerts-kwinana

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Children, Mixed media, News, Reviews, Theatre

Best in show

AWESOME Review: Lemony S Puppet Theatre, Picasso and his Dog 
Dolphin Theatre, October 11 ⋅
Review by David Zampatti ⋅

My eldest son has a rascal of a sausage dog called Frankie. He also owns a print, a sweep of black curves on white paper. It’s a sketch of a dachshund, signed by the artist, Pablo Picasso.

After seeing Lemony S Puppet Theatre’s truly wonderful Picasso and His Dog I know that its name was Lump (“Rascal” in German). I also know a lot more about the whys and hows of my son’s print, about Picasso, and, I think, about artists and art.

And I’ve seen – not for the first time – how the best children’s theatre has the quality of directness and clarity that’s essential to delight young audiences and engage their grown-up handlers.

It’s the start of the day in the artist’s studio, a ramshackle jumble that looks like a small tornado has hit it. It is the debris (we imagine) of Picasso’s scattergun work the day before.

His assistants, Michelle (Tamara Rewse) and Francoise (Jacob Williams) busy themselves making it fit for human habitation and work.

Everything is in its place – brushes and paints, easels and canvases, fruit bowls and furniture – ready for Picasso (Ben Grant) to emerge.

When he does, he moves with restless profligacy from one task to another – a brushstroke or two here, moulding some clay there, holding objects up to his view. “I made this – it’s a Picasso!” he declares with delight in his production.

Then Lump arrives, and we find out who the small tornado actually was. (Lump was a real dog, a pet of the photographer David Douglas Duncan, who gave him to Picasso in 1957. The dog and the artist were inseparable until Lump died in 1973, only ten days before Picasso himself.)

We also find out how the artist worked, and, in a brilliant animated sequence, how animals and humans have interacted through art across the millennia.

The writer Sarah Kriegler, who also directed, has done a remarkable job breathing life into a story that has been well recorded but not well known.

She weaves what we need to know into what is essentially a love story between a man and a dog without ever explaining what we don’t need to know, or knew already. (In that regard, it’s admirable that she never tells us who Picasso was, even though, no doubt, the majority of the young audience would not have known of him. She lets them find him for themselves. A brave and wholly successful decision.)

She’s been supported by an exemplary creative team, designers Jonathon Oxlade and , lighting designer Rachel Burke and sound designers and composers Jethro Woodward and Ben T.D., who’ve given the production a rich look, sound and feel, as impressive as anything you’ll see on any stage.

Grant creates an entirely believable, natural and appealing character: portly, kooky and avuncular. Was this the real Picasso? Who cares!

Lump is a fabulous creation of wood and leather, skilfully manipulated by Rewse and Williams, who were the most active and involved of puppeteers.

Picasso and his Dog is as finely devised and realised piece of theatre, of any kind, as you will see. For children, who deserve nothing but the best in their early experience of the arts, it is a gift beyond measure.

Pictured: Ben Grant and his dog Lump.  Photo: Pia Johnson.

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Children, News, Reviews, Theatre

Heart-warming tale delivers wisdom and warnings

AWESOME Review: Windmill Theatre, Beep ·
Octagon Theatre, UWA, 12 October ·
Review by Lydia Edwards ·

On the day we were due to see Beep, the new production from South Australia’s Windmill Theatre Co, my three year old daughter had already watched the trailer over a dozen times. Protagonist Beep, the squat, big-eyed robot who arrives from a dying planet, had stolen her heart: and we were still several hours away from the show.

Once inside the Octagon Theatre and seated on large beanbags at the front, her demeanour changed. “Will it be scary?” she asked, looking up at the movable wooden set with its green grass, and fluffy, bulbous tree with windows in each puff. It might have been right out of Dr Seuss’ Lorax, a comparison which became more marked as the story commenced.

Once the three narrators and puppeteers were on stage, however, my daughter’s face lit up. This engaging trio  both run the show and blend into the background when the puppets take centre stage. They seamlessly transport the audience into the world of Mort, his little sister Pop, and an assortment of cute characters who live a life of cosy routine and predictability.

With the sudden arrival of Beep, however, comes a line to strike recognition into the heart of both young and old in the audience: but for markedly different reasons. “Nobody had any answers”, the narrator explains, for Beep’s presence in their world… “so they decided to be afraid”. Children will take this at face value. Many adults, I suspect, can’t help but link it to the stateless and homeless trying to make safe passage through the world, and the hostile reactions with which they are too frequently met. To “decide” to be afraid is a pointed and devastating choice, and it plays out just as badly for Beep, shivering and frightened in the storm.

Of course, Beep makes a friend in Mort, and by the end of the play she has found her new forever home with him. On the journey there the creatures discover that she has a lot to offer their community, especially when she turns an already delicious “molly melon” into an even tastier cake. Later, she uses the last of her battery power to save Pop, who is stuck up in the tree.

We are aware from the start that each day Beep’s battery, viewable through a series of lights on her belly, is dwindling. In another beautiful twist to contemporary turmoil, it is recharged through a tiny windmill placed on her head, powered through a surge of wind that is provided by the audience flapping their arms. By this point we have already learned that Beep was forced to leave her home planet because it “started to darken, and it wasn’t safe to stay”. (I don’t think I have to spell out the contemporary links here).

These darker themes are not overt, not preachy, and not necessarily even at the heart of this gentle, fantastically staged story. But they are undeniably present, and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to see Beep as a climate refugee, showing her new community that she brings worlds of experience to benefit them. Monosyllabic, tolerant Mort is summed up well by one of the closing lines: “There’s room in Mort’s heart for everyone, old friends and new.”

“I want it again!” said my daughter as we left the auditorium. If Beep should fly into Perth another day, I think we will definitely be up for a second viewing. I just hope her words of warning will carry a less urgent sting by then.

Beep plays Sunday 13 October, at 9.30am, 11.30am and 2pm.

Top image: Luke Cardew

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Children, Circus, Dance, Festivals, News, Physical theatre, Reviews

A little long but important viewing

Junior AWESOME Review: DADAA and CircusWA, Experience Collider ⋅
Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, October 4 ⋅
Reviews by Gabriel (10) and Sascha Bott (8)⋅

Experience Collider is a show about two different groups of people having experiences that they wouldn’t have normally. For example, a man who couldn’t walk was up on a rope while a circus performer was down on a patient lift.

It was produced by DADAA and CircusWA and included performers such as Hugo Favelle, Caleb Barret, Evan Gallant-Harvey, Samuel Freeman and Richer Mortensen.

Something I liked about the show was how it was split up into sections. The first section was called Hold, the second was called Boss Together, the third was called Aerial Entanglement, and the fourth was called Train Collider.  Each section focused on a different idea and physical skill.

Second, I think the show overall was a bit long, and some of the things could have been cut out. For example, at one point in the show, there were people being dragged around on crash mats by dancers, and I didn’t understand why.

Lastly, the costumes were really good, I liked the back of the costume of the circus performers, which had a line down the middle. The costume was basically smock-looking overalls.

– Gabriel Bott (Aged 10)

 

Today I watched Experience Collider at the State Theatre Centre. It was a show made by DADAA and CircusWA. In the show there were people with disabilities (some in wheelchairs) and young circus performers. They performed different circus skills like hula-hoops, silks and tumbling.

I liked the section called Train Collider because a man with a disability got to go on a rope in the air, and I was really impressed by what he could do.

I think I would have changed how long it was because it was too long.

I also liked how they let people with disabilities have a turn of controlling the music. Some of them even got to sing.

I liked the show and I think more people should watch it.

– Sascha Bott (Aged 8)

Pictured: Cast of ‘Experience Collider’.  Photo: Rachael Barrett

Read our senior review of Experience Collider by Robert Housley.

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Children, Circus, Dance, News, Physical theatre, Reviews

Blueprint for the future

AWESOME Review: DADAA and CircusWA, Experience Collider ⋅
Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, October 4 ⋅
Review by Robert Housley ⋅

Experience is fundamental to our passage through life. It is how life manifests itself and how we interact with the world.

When significant boundaries inhibit the physical and psychological experience of existence, finding ways to enrich it are even more critical to a life well lived.

The 28 young people in this Awesome 2019 show – half with high-needs disabilities, half from the CircusWA Youth Troupe – embrace the joy of collaboration that has doubtless enriched the lives of all involved.

At the heart of this Sam Fox-directed performance is the desire to create a world of equality which, he suggests, could be “a blueprint for the future.”

Inclusiveness and equality go hand in hand, just as hold, the first of several themed components of the performance, proved.

The simple intimacy and symbolism of holding hands permeated the opening scenes, which had the entire cast and a fair number of the support crew intermingling on stage together. When an aerialist suspended about seat-height from the ground wrapped her arm around an electric wheelchair-bound performer and he literally took them for spin, the night was off to a brilliant start.

Electric wheelchairs abounded as did a range of circus props including aerial apparatus, landing mats and hula hoops.

Movement of all kinds – from dance to gymnastics – was integral, as was a sense of fun.

A film crew kept popping up and occasional shorts were projected onto two large screens either side of stage.

Between the screens was a large-scale revolving door-like entryway, which provided tactile curtaining and featured strongly in the most heart-warming of the short films.

The heart strings were pulled to breaking point in the joyful pas de deux between Mohammed Waheedy and Lila Campbell. Waheedy climbed unaided from his wheelchair on to a long mat, where circus performer Campbell waited, and together they choreographically rolled around for the sheer pleasure of it.

Onstage composer/musician Roly Skender provided beautiful atmospherics, enhanced with periods of live acoustic guitar.

Music for teenagers was most aptly celebrated near the end of the show with a full run of Perth band Tame Impala’s hit song “Let it Happen”.

Fox and the team of professional collaborators involved in the 18-month show development certainly did everything their power to guide this remarkable event and let the experiences happen for everyone.

Pictured top (left to right): Leila, Maddie, Hugo and Arlo   Photo: Peter Cheng.

Read reviews of ‘Experience Collider’ by Junior Critics Gabriel and Sascha Bott (age 10 and 8).

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Children, Classical music, Festivals, Interactive Experience, Music, News, Reviews

Sweet dreams

AWESOME Review: Giovanni Consort, Cloud Nine ⋅
Centenary Galleries, Art Gallery of Western Australia, October 5 ⋅
Review by Robert Housley ⋅

Chilling out has little to do with temperature and more to do with relaxing. Adults desire and, arguably, need relaxation far more than children. The so-called wellness craze is upon us.

So the idea of programming a choral ensemble with a show designed to “soothe the senses and focus the mind” seems antithetical for a children’s festival. How are they going to sit still for long enough and will they be quiet while dulcet enunciations permeate the ether?

And then to program it at 10.30am when children are at their most energetic. Brave.

These were my first thoughts. But if inspiring a love of the arts in to “bright young things” is Awesome Festival’s ultimate goal then Giovanni Consort’s glorious expression of music is a great place to begin.

Inspiration is readily garnered by adults and children alike from the nine-member Consort’s offering Cloud Nine, which is a condensed, child-friendly version of its 2019 Fringe World festival show Sleep with Giovanni. So too is wonderment.

The audience members are provided with an eye-mask each before being ushered downstairs in to the bowels of the old section of the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Shoes are taken off in an adjoining room before the small opening-day audience is directed to the cavernous, acoustically generous performance space.

It is a chill-out zone. Yoga and gym mats are spread in concentric rings around a clear, circular central space from where most of the singing is presented. We are told to put on our eye masks and . . . relax.

And then it begins. Stirring voices that defy the capacity of the uninitiated to believe such a sound can emanate from so few people. The power, the beauty and the seamless integration of such a range of different voices is totally overwhelming. With your eyes closed the music simply inhabits your being. Relaxing? Not so much for this reviewer. Rather, gently invigorating.

The group performed four varied works including Sleep (Eric Whitacre), O Salutaris (André Caplet), Kondalilla (Stephen Leek) and Pais Dinogad, regular Consort member Joshua Adams’ arrangement of a 6th Century Welsh lullaby, composed specifically for this show, which was created and directed by Jonty Coy in collaboration with Giovanni Consort Artistic Director Hugh Lydon.

A brief Q&A with the audience afterwards offered a better understanding of the experience and was an important addition.

Junior review by Saskia Haluszkiewicz (aged 9)

Cloud Nine is a treat for all the senses. From the moment I entered the evocative room downstairs at the Art Gallery WA and saw the mats placed on the ground I knew this was going to be an unusual theatre experience. Audience members are asked to lie down and wear eye masks while listening to the beautiful voices of the Giovanni Consort and their quirky selection of instruments. For thirty minutes the stunning voices of the choir soar throughout the room and the eye masks help sharpen your senses and open your mind to a whole new world. You are completely in your own experience and quickly forget the presence of the audience around you.

At the end of the show your body is drawn back down to reality and the performers ask you questions about what you have heard and give you an opportunity to try the instruments. I would highly recommend this delightful show to anyone who loves floating in their imagination and being taken on a musical journey.

Cloud Nine is on Octber 7, 9 and 11 at 10.30am.

Read an interview with the Awesome Festival’s artistic director Jenny Simpson.

Pictured top: Members of the Giovanni Consort  Photo: Rebecca Mansell.

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Children, News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

Grab your towel for some beachy fun!

Junior Reviews: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, On Our Beach ⋅
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, September 25 ⋅
Reviews by Isabel and Eddy Greentree ⋅

Isabel Greentree (age 9)

Usually when you go to the theatre you expect to sit down and only watch the show. But not with this unique and amazing performance. Get ready to make towel sculptures, have selfies and get buried by a tsunami. Grab your towel and enjoy some beachy fun!

On Our Beach starts by asking each audience member to create an identity card and go through pest control, getting sprayed and scrubbing yourself clean. Take some crazy selfies of beachy scenes, then walk through an undersea tunnel with slimy rock pools and seaweed scents. Set your towels on the soft surface and wait for the performance to begin.

Directed by Philip Mitchell and performed by Tani Walker, Shona Mae and Rebecca Bradley, the show kept the audience entertained for the whole hour. People laughed a lot and kids enjoyed being able to move around the stage during the performance.

The three performers sang, danced and interacted with puppets and the audience, making a series of beach scenes. Cheeky FOMO the dog kept sneaking onto the beach. My favourite part was when the tsunami rolled onto the stage and we slid around in all the balls and threw them at each other.

The lighting was very effective, using disco balls and spotlights to create shimmering patterns on the walls and roof. Glowing beach balls thrown by the actors to the audience kept everyone entertained. The music was energetic and the performers were really good singers.

At the end you get to sit in seats under beach umbrellas and watch the final dance. The show was entertaining and funny, not only because the actors were good but because we could interact with the performance. I wish I could go and see it again!

Eddy Greentree (age 7)

The show was about having fun at the beach.

There were lots of surprises like Fomo the dog sneaking onto the beach and a tsunami that we played in.

My favourite parts were taking the sneaky way onto the stage through the tunnel and getting covered with balls during the tsunami.

The actors were fun and they were really good at moving the sea creature puppets.

If you want to go to the beach and do some surfing then you should go to this show!

Big kids, little kids and grown ups will all enjoy it.

On Our Beach continues until October 12. Read our senior review by Ros Appleby.

Photo: Jessica Wyld

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Children, News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

A surreal beach adventure

Review: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, On Our Beach ⋅
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, October 25 ⋅
Review by Rosalind Appleby ⋅

Imagine taking part in Alice in Wonderland as it unfolds around you, except the environment is more akin to Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s new work On Our Beach uses similar fantastical elements to take the audience on an interactive adventure.

The production has taken three years to create, with director Philip Mitchell drawing on previous Spare Parts collaborators writer Peta Murray (the dramaturg behind the adaptation of Blueback) and designer Cecile Williams (H²O, a puppet play set in a swimming pool).

On arrival we were welcomed by lifeguards who took us through a labyrinth of quarantine, customs (in this surreal world you get to design your own passport), and other sensory experiences culminating in a waiting room. A faint smell of citronella filled the darkened space, and children luxuriated on the velvet mattress floor, relaxing to the gentle strumming of a lifeguard crooning a lullaby. It gradually became apparent that, like Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, we had fallen into the sea. Blue orbs and luminous sea creatures floated above us, exquisitely designed by Leon Hendroff and Michael Griffin and set amidst Chris Donnelly’s shimmering oceanic lighting.

plastic balls pour from above on delighted children
Shimmering light beneath the ocean. Photo Jessica Wyld

The energy began to change as the sun rose (a giant inflatable ball) and the lifeguards drew us into their games. There was a stray dog, the requisite beach BBQ, beach towel sculpture, a tsunami and even some cabaret songs along the way. Lifeguards Tani Walker, Shona Mae and Rebecca Bradley were welcoming, playful lifeguards, their remarkable versatility on display as puppeteers, volleyball players and even cabaret artists. Their rendition of Imagine Your Feet Are Fish was a highlight of Lee Buddle’s score, as the three actors, sang and shimmied their way through ‘the barracuda boogie’ and ‘the swordfish shuffle’, complete with sequined gowns, feather boas and slapstick comedy. If only the microphones had done a better job of picking up the intricacies of the lyric and the harmonies.

What child doesn’t like an ocean ball pit? Photo Jessica Wyld

The entire show was a lot of fun. What child doesn’t like diving around a stage converted into an enormous ocean ball pit? The mix of sensory experiences left a rich imprint – I can still smell those frying onions! But the emotional impact was less significant. Theatre has such potential to enhance empathy and awareness of ‘other’, and this was a missed opportunity to engage audiences more deeply with the fragile relationships between people, animals and our beaches.

On Our Beach continues until October 12. Read a review by our junior critic.

Picture Top: A beach BBQ and games are all part of the fun in On Our Beach. Photo supplied.

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