|Premiere||20 July 1996|
|Venue||Randall Theatre, St. Martin’s Theatre, South Yarra, Victoria|
DANTE…THROUGH THE INVISIBLE was a visual interpretation of Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy.
With its richness of imagery and universal themes, this classic text captured the imagination of Handspan when it was proposed to the company by Carmelina Di Guglielmo who was keen to continue to work with material that reflected her Italian heritage.
The work was originally proposed to be a co-production between Handspan Theatre and the Melbourne Theatre Company, following the companies’ partnership for Gulliver's Travels in 1992. Although the play's storyboard evolved from creative development workshops held in 1994 with a collaborative creative team from both organisations, the Melbourne Theatre Company withdrew from the production in 1995.
The resulting production was devised collaboratively by Handspan’s artistic director, Ken Evans, (director/designer), Carmelina di Guglielmo, Lizz Talbot and screenwriter, Mac Gudgeon. Stylistically similar to Secrets, Four Little Girls and several of Handspan’s Vignettes but unlike those productions, DANTE .. had a narrative line based on Dante's original poetic saga but imagined in a contemporary context.
Joe, or Dante, the central figure in the production, played by an actor (Michael Butcher) was a soldier, discovered in a jungle battlefield confronting his inner self and on the threshold of a spiritual odyssey through the underworld. Puppetry and animated imagery surrounded Joe on stage visualising his subconscious and his personal demons as the narrative followed his voyage through Inferno and Purgatory to Paradise.
Philip Lethlean, lighting designer highlighted key figures in the darkness often using miniaturised lighting sources. These 'lights on sticks' as they were known, became puppets themselves, manipulated in concert with looming images conjured from Joe’s imaginings. Bestial, phallic and ghostly, they forced Dante into torture and extremis.
Snippets of Aligheri’s original text were heard in David Chesworth's hybrid, effects-based eerie score composed for the work.
DANTE ... was an ambitious and experimental venture for Handspan. Its dramatic interpretation met criticism though its complex imagery was generally applauded.
DANTE - THROUGH THE INVISIBLE played only its opening season at St Martin's Theatre. It was Director Ken Evans’ last production with Handspan. By August 1996 a new artistic director, David Bell had been appointed to the company and any future evolution of the project was shelved.
|Devised by||Carmelina Di Guglielmo, Ken Evans, Mac Gudgeon, Lizz Talbot.|
|Director & designer||Ken Evans|
|Dramaturgical assistance||John Romeril|
|Lighting designer||Philip Lethlean|
|Sound design||Peter Jago|
|Creative development||Cliff Dolliver ,Wayne McCauley, Hugh Wayland, Tom Consadine,|
|Melanie Beddie, Andrew Hansen, Michele Spooner, Avril McQueen|
|Production manager||Paul Judd|
|Stage manager||Marnie Mc Donald|
|Construction supervisor||David Hope|
|Set/Puppet construction||Katrina Gaskell, Craig Hedger, Rob Matson, Michele Spooner,|
|Consultant aerialist||Simon Mitchell|
|Consultant pyrotechnician||Aaron Beacaire|
|Graphic design||Jenkins Hall Advertising Pty Ltd|
|20 July – 3 August||Randall Theatre, St Martin’s Theatre, South Yarra, Victoria|