Much of the material and information on the Handspan Theatre site is based on Helen Rickards incomplete manuscript, A Handspan of 25 Years researched, collated and written from 2004 to 2008.
In early 2009, the accessibility and gloriously greater capacity of website publication beckoned, offering the opportunity for the material to be published more appropriately, alongside the photo's of Handspan's repertoire of visual theatre.
From 2009 - 2014, Helen collated, captioned and catalogued Handspan's photographic records, now added to the Arts Centre Melbourne's Performing Arts Collection, and trawled some private collections of Handspan members to extend the illustrative material originally selected for the proposed manuscript, for inclusion in this online format.
Maeve Vella joined the project to set up the technical side of the website and to restore and organise the photo collection for viewing onscreen.
From 2014 - 2016, Helen and Maeve joined forces to devise how best to include discussion of Handspan's work and its history and record the artistic background and creative teams behind its unique reperoire with the vast photographic imagery that captures those fleeting theatrical moments of a time now long past, and to learn how to create a website.
Techically developed by Maeve, the site relies mainly on open-source wiki software from TikiWiki, designed for collaborative online projects. The wiki format provides ease of editing and plenty of built-in tools for organising and cross-referencing a large amount of content.
The work of other Handspan archivists has also contributed to the development of the site:
- LIzz Talbot catalogued Handspan's production details to accompany the Handspan Theatre Collection in the Performing Arts Collection at the Arts Centre, Melbourne. Her publication The Productions Created by Handspan Theatre (2003) is the foundation for the detailed data tables on the pages of this site.
- Andrew Hansen undertook the digitising and cataloguing of Handspan's archival videotape and film footage - about 270 hours of material (2013 -14) and this means its now possible to edit short illustrative clips of Handspan's work for addition to the website chronicles.
- Translations of foreign language reviews and articles about Handspan productions particularly Secrets Reviews, have been contributed by Giuliano Di Ienno, Carmelina di Guglielmo, Alice Bleby and Maeve Vella.
- Photographers, video makers and artists have been credited in image captions unless unknown and permission has been sought for the inclusion of all media material on the site from copyright owners. Stephen Hall has kindly contributed high-resolution scans of his photographs of Secrets and Cho Cho San and Jeff Busby has supplied additional photographs from his archives for Lift 'Em Up Socks.
- Since Handspan closed, the Performing Arts Collection at Melbourne's Arts Centre has facilitated and supported the collection of Handspan Theatre's documents as well as its artefacts. All the original photographic material on the site, as well as the documents on which its research is based are held in the Collection. This catalogued material has been generously made available to website authors for extended research.
- Many other Handspan members and friends have generously contributed material from their private collections.
First published in July 2016 the Handspan Theatre Website has undergone small revisions, additions and updates since, with a major upgrade and re-design in 2020.
Website developers who have assisted with the ongoing project are:
luciash d'being, in the Czech Republic (2015)
Cristina Chiorean, in Melbourne (2020)
Emil Mesesan, in Spain (2020)