‘Life on Earth’ is a collaboration between WAAPA’s 3rd Year Performance Making students and Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. This is the fifth year that WAAPA’s graduating Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA) students have been offered the opportunity to study puppetry through an ongoing partnership with Spare Parts Puppet Theatre.
This unusual but truly fascinating compilation comprises a score of short snippets of life on Earth.
This delightful 70-minute show can be seen at The Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, 1 Short Street directly opposite the Fremantle railway station.
These performances are more suitable for ADULTS – minimal strong language – children may enjoy the colour and action but would miss most of the innuendoes and messages. The shows are at 7.30 pm until Saturday 2nd November.
The set: The stage floor is black, surrounded with black drapes. Almost invisible in the dim light, is a 60 cms high podium, centre rear stage.
The scene: As we enter the auditorium the curtains are open and there is a semicircle of chairs on the stage. Seated are twenty-one actors dressed in black skivvy tops, black trousers and with bare feet. Each has an iPhone in hand, they are staring at their phones, their faces lit by the screens glow.
The soundscape was quirky and gave added life to Jackson Harrison’s already creative lighting design.
As David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ and ‘Life on Mars?’ music fades, the screens of the mobile phones on stage go dark. A line of bright lights appears in their place. These tiny white lights gather into a cluster then explode. You are now looking into a starlit night sky. As the heavenly bodies drift a baby is perceived floating in space, then Earth itself is seen glowing. A female astronaut lands on the Earth. The inhabitants break into party mode with Latino music and fireworks. Old residents watch the revelry from their multistorey flats. All these effects and ‘people’ are manually operated puppets. Some are only several centimetres tall and yet you can see their expressions and feel their moods – very clever work.
When two world leaders were talking, by using three pairs of bare arms, each face was created, complete with eyebrows, nose and lips. Ingenious. In an underwater scene a superbly constructed, two-metre seahorse drifted past, as it examined its environment. With quality fashioned models and fine puppetry expressing every temperament, it was easy to be drawn into the illusion that these were living beings.
The students under the guidance of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s Associate Director Michael Barlow have created a fully animated and original look at life. From birth to death, all the major facets of characters from racism and gender diversity, to pollution and insane politicians. ALL of life is here. In these twenty, two-minute sketches they have managed to grab the crux of the situations and present them to us with novel ideas. The cast could easily have presented the same old hackneyed ideas, but it was obvious how each glimpse at life had a concept that was fresh, inventive and often with a touch of poignancy or humour. The sketches flowed together seamlessly. For the first thirty minutes not a word was spoken, then we see our first ‘live’ actors talking at the two places folk gather for gossip – the water cooler and the urinal.
Under the direction of Michael Barlow, the highly talented performers became creative lateral thinkers. Be very proud Jennifer Bagg, Jared Barkla, Jonathon Battista, Madeline Clouston, Hannah Davidson, Anna Dooley, Carolina Duca, Rebecca Fingher, Finn Forde, Samantha Hortin, Shaun Johnston, Maddy Lee, Laura Liu, Fiona Macdonald, Mark Mcdonald, Joel Mews, Sian Murphy, Mila Nieman, Linnea Tengroth, Jackson Vaughan, David Vikman and Haylee Whisson; an unusual, stunningly visual theatre experience.