March 31, 2011

Youth festival fuelled by fertile imaginations

Come Out Festival 2011
March 25 – April 1.

Wulamanayuwi and the Seven Pamanui
by Jason De Santis
Tandanya, Adelaide
March 29.
Presented in association with the Darwin Festival
(August 11 -28) and Ten Days on the Island (April 1-3).

When the Pictures Came
by Finegan Kruckemeyer
Terrapin Puppet Theatre
and Children’s Art Theatre of China Welfare Institute
Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide.
March 28
Ten Days on the Island (April 1-3).

Escape from Peligro Island
by Finegan Kruckemeyer
Windmill Theatre in association with The Border Project
Forge Theatre , Marryatville High School, Adelaide.
March 28. Tickets $15. Bookings : BASS 131 246
Until April 7.

Come Out, Adelaide’s leading festival for young people has been a biennial fixture since 1975 and this year’s Creative Director, Andy Packer, has assembled a statewide program involving 150,000 school children and their families, and gathered leading artists and performance works from across Australia, Europe and China.

Wulamanayumi and the Seven Pamanui, we are told by writer and performer Jason De Santis, is based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – or as he puts it, that’s the cream puff which he fills with the “chocolate filling” of Tiwi Island culture. The result is fresh, original and often delectable. Director Eamon Flack has brought together marvelous visual elements – a puppet booth decorated with Tiwi motifs by Raelene Kerinauia, back projections drawn by students from Milikapiti Primary School, and zany puppets from Bryan Woltjen that bicker like South Park characters.

The story is narrated and performed by Japarra, the Moon Man (the ebullient De Santis) with Shari Sebbens as the kind-hearted Wulamanayuwi and Natasha Wanganeen as the witchy Jirrakilala. It is a story of good and evil , death and magical restoration – including music by Mozart and Grieg. Jason De Santis is a real talent – mischievous, poetic and assured. This bran nue work is playing festivals in Hobart and Darwin. Catch it if you can.

When the Pictures Came comes from the prolific pen of Finegan Kruckemeyer (at 29 he already has 48 commissioned plays to his credit). This one is a joint venture between Terrapin Puppet Theatre and the Children’s Art Theatre of China with director Frank Newman blending startling animations from Zeng Yigang with black light puppetry and live action. There are plenty of cartoony pleasures for young audiences and a robot monster with buffalo horns marauds the stage, but the intended story of four self-absorbed characters learning to co-operate is a bit lost in this ambitious box of multimedia tricks.

Windmill and Border Project’s Escape from Peligro Island is also by Kruckemeyer but director Sam Haren has fewer stage elements to resolve and the show has a terrific gimmick. It is based on the 1980s Choose Your Own Adventure story book favourites and audience members are supplied with an electronic voting device which signals colours for options.

Should the hero run for help, or stay and fight ? Should the boy kiss the girl ? Vote red or blue. Actors David Heinrich, Alirio Zavarce and Jude Henshall capably keep things buzzing along, with a witty script and Jonathan Oxlade’s set of plastic action toys, cartoon drawings and installations projected by camera on to the screen behind. Much fun is had with vampires, pirates and speeding boats and there are even tender moments. “Hey Thomas”, I heard one seven year old say to his mate afterwards, “we made them kiss!”

Murray Bramwell

“Youth festival fuelled by fertile imaginations” The Australian, March 31, 2011, p.15.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment