|Co-production||HANDSPAN THEATRE and BACK-TO-BACK THEATRE|
|Premiere||28 November, 1996|
|Venue||Lonsdale St Power Station, Melbourne|
MIND'S EYE was created by Handspan Theatre with Back-to-Back Theatre for people with intellectual disabilities, with the latter's long-standing musical collaborators, My Friend the Chocolate Cake.
Ian Pidd, recently appointed artistic director at Back-to-Back, approached Ken Evans at Handspan to co-create a surreal and fantasy-based work with the increasingly skilled pool of disabled actors with whom he was now working. He was inspired by his ensemble's alternative ways of perceiving the world.
Handspan's adventurous approach to visual theatre made the company an obvious choice2 for co-production:
Handspan was equally attracted to the project. Designer, Cliff Dolliver's response to the proposal was effusive:
Both companies undertook a six-week creative development project in a series of intermittent workshops held at both Back-to-Back's premises in Geelong and at Handspan's studio in Fitzroy during 1995. The Back-to-Back ensemble was introduced to puppetry and manipulation skills; and Handspan became familiar with their working methods and the challenges of the experience. My Friend the Chocolate joined the final workshops to create the score for scenarios that had taken shape. MINDS EYE became a beautifully gung-ho piece3 billed as:
The play revolved around the images and self-perceptions of the actors who had participated in the workshop process. Its design and objects were based on the drawings that emerged from these sessions. Rita Halabrec played a beautiful princess, Mark Deans had an assortment of furry friends, Sonia Tebeuns main character was a talking vagina, and a dog with a double sided personality (Paul Virgona's imagined character) was played by Tom Lycos .
The story was about a bossy mermaid who send birthday party invitations in bottles cast into the sea. Her guests crossed the ocean to attend and were required to entertain their hostess and satisfy her whims. In hilarious and often raunchy scenes, the play showed how people experiencing the same circumstances can perceive them in completely different ways.
MINDS EYE premiered in late1996 at the Lonsdale St Power Station (since demolished), an old industrial site well-suited to its quirkiness and sense of epic journeying. The season was dedicated to Paul Virgona, who was a key creative development participant, but died three weeks before rehearsals finally began.
MINDS EYE was revived for a season at the 1998 Adelaide Fringe Festival where the co-production credits billed Back-to-Back with under the newly branded Handspan Visual Theatre.
- Michael Harden interview:Southern Cross, Caulfield, 20 November, 1996
- Ian Pidd: Creative Development Proposal, 1995
- Narelle Sullivan Review:Inpress, Melbourne, 4 December, 1996
|Devised by||Creative development workshops:Back to Back with Handspan Theatre|
|Dramaturgical assistance||Katy Bowman|
|Lighting designer||Philip Lethlean|
|Recorded music||My Friend the Chocolate Cake|
|Costume designer||Anna Tregloan|
|Creative development||also included Michele Spooner, David McBride, Rad Cosic & Paul Virgona|
|26 November - 7 December||Lonsdale St Power Station, Melbourne|
|11 December||Blakiston Theatre, Geelong (Director's Cut series)|
|21 - 28 February||Scott Street Theatre, Adelaide Fringe Festival|