Tuesday, 6 October 2009


Hallo, and welcome to the Australian arm of this blog - to welcome you all, here's a song from Banjo the koala;

Today was the first of 4 days here in Hobart, Tasmania that I will be working with Terrapin Theatre. I actually arrived in Australia with my partner Catherine a week ago last Monday. We spent 2 nights in Sydney, taking in the sights; Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and had some odd little fauna moments. I was fascinated by Ibis acting like pigeons, domestic rabbits wandering around under the Bridge and large bats in evening trees. Just before we left we discovered Surry Hills, a really cool area with great cafes and overpriced second-hand shops.

We took the plane to the little airport in Hobart last Wednesday and have had a great time driving round and meeting more wildlife and sadly a lot of deadlife in the form of roadkill. Apparently it's a very common sight in Tassie where there is apparently more indigenous species than almost anywhere else - if you hit a kangaroo or wallaby you're supposed to check the pouch to see if there's a live joey there and take it to a sanctuary. We were also told that any roadkill should be pulled of the road into the bush so that scavengers like tasmanian devils, who have bad eyesight and hearing (although a sense of smell that can sense a meal at 2km) don't get hit too.

I don't want to make it seem a downer here - quite the contrary. There are entirely empty, wonderful beaches just about everywhere and some amazing widlife to see - we actually had an eagle fly across the road just in front of the car with a fully grown rabbit in its talons.

On the evening after our arrival we drove (via a place called Cygnet where we had an amazing and terrifying banoffee pie) to a lovely little town called Franklin where Frank Newman had invited us to see their show Helena and the Journey of the Hello. It was a wonderful, poetic piece which led us through the imagination of the (wonderfully pupeteered) Helena and the absconding of her parents. There was some really clever moments featuring iphones used as blocks of light dancing across the stage, and becoming the eyes of the mother as well as placed in front of a microphone becoming another character. It was also the first time I'd met Fin (Finnegan Kruckmeyer, the writer, who's also writing 'Picures') and Kevin O'Loghlin, Terrapin's General Manager.

On the Sunday Frank took us all out - myself, Catherine and Shi Lei and Yigang from China - the costume designer and animator for 'Pictures', respectively, for a drive to another beautiful beach and a really friendly cafe where I sampled a wallaby and venison burger (Skippy and Bambi as the chef called it). Frank's very cute 4-year-old daughter Sienna also kept us all very much entertained.

So today, Tuesday, was our first proper day of work on the project up in Terrapin's rehearsal workshop in the lovely Salamanca Arts Centre. Kate, the designer was there and she was the final member of the creative team I had yet to meet - she'd come over from Melbourne with a cold. Frank skilfully and patiently led us through the shape of the piece. There was a classic translation moment where Shi Lei was asked how many people worked with her in the costume department at CATC. There was quite a long back-and-forth conversation with the translator and much nodding and reiterating before the translator came back with the answer "six". The table dissolved into laughter. The process is inevitably slower when everything has to be translated but it also means that things can be absorbed and cogitated on more. The translation also extends to cultural differences in interpreting how the piece can look etc and that was something we began to explore. For instance, an angel is mentioned in the play, and that is a concept that does not really exist in Chinese culture so at the end of the day we were assigned the task of finding images of angels, as well as other things, to bring in and compare.

Frank also explained the technology of the moving projector 'machine' character in the piece and how that was going to operate. He also illustrated some of the illusions we'd be able to use and build upon, which I won't describe in detail here for fear of spoiling the final illusion. Suffice it to say it will be spectacular and there will be many techniques used for the first time. My job is to create the sound world of the characters, the environment and the movement of it all and I'm excited to really get my teeth into the multiple layers, the idea of 2-D and 3-D music and the largest birds-eye view to the smallest detail. I think I can learn a lot from the local birds of prey who can pinpoint a rabbit in a field from a mile away and zoom straight in without detection.

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