|Premiere||12 July, 1981|
|Venue||Carringbush Library Theatrette, Richmond|
JANDY MALONE AND THE NINE O’CLOCK TIGER was adapted for the stage by Handspan from the book by Barbara Bolton, illustrated by Alan White1 .
The book is set in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond where Jandy and her siblings are afraid of the dark and unnerved by their father’s absence after a family break-up. Jandy’s bedtime stories have bred the imagined terror of a Tasmanian tiger lurking in the hallway. Despite all attempts to hold the illusion at bay, the terror remains until Jandy confronts the fears she has created.
Fear of the dark was a well-recalled memory of Handspan artists, and the story struck a chord when it was introduced to the company by Gay Reid, in Adelaide in 1981. The company were on tour with The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek for the Come Out Festival and by then the Bunyip … had been on the road for a year, and Handspan was looking for new material. Gay was teaching in upper primary school and suggested the book for its topical relevance to her students as well as its popularity with young readers and librarians.
The setting for JANDY MALONE … in inner Melbourne terrace cottage, was a familiar canvas for Fitzroy-based Handspan. The work lent itself to in-theatre production, a new step that attracted the company, and was an opportunity to again explore black theatre and shadow puppetry techniques, and as well as illusion of scale with actors and puppets operated by visible manipulators.
The play was adapted by its original cast and supported by the City of Richmond, Community Arts Officer, Jackie Talbot, for its opening at Book Week 1981 the Carringbush Library Theatrette.
Ken Evans’ design of a black and white toned bedroom was a simple scene of two upright beds (full-sized versions of the booth model used in Hansel and Gretel, flanking a scrim door through which the tiger glowed when summoned, and behind which the objects in the hallway appeared in a black theatre curtain.
Jandy was played by an actor. Her younger siblings, Peter and Samantha were puppets. The puppets were made and designed by Anita Sinclair and her company, Mask of Janus, also located in Richmond. Outsourcing of puppet design and in most cases, construction, was an unusual occurrence for Handspan at any time in its life. JANDY …, however, was conceived when in-house puppet-making resources were unavailable, and it was another new option tried in the production – to hire an outside puppetry professional. Although the resultant puppets worked effectively, their style remains incongruous in Handspan’s opus.
The play was directed by Helen Rickards who also played Jandy for its first season. It was was rehearsed with new cast members for its following seasons again including new Rusden Stage College graduates, Steven Gration and Ian Roland who worked in Handspan's ensemble repertoire for the subsequent year.
With puppeteer, Peter J.Wilson, Ken contrived an innovative manipulation support for the operation of Peter, Jandy's younger brother. The puppet was designed to be operated by a puppeteer shuffling in a squat, known as the Taskeshi Shuffle after it was introduced to the Tasmanian Puppet Theatre, and thence Australian puppeteers, by Puk Puppet Theatre in Japan. An effective operational style that allowed Bunraku style puppets to be operated by one puppeteer, it was nevertheless, for the puppeteer, an uncomfortable strain. Ken and Peter made a sturdy trolley on castors that allowed flexibility of movement but took the weight from the puppeteer's leg muscles. Draped in black velvet, the trolley merged with the hooded puppeteer and allowed his knees to support the puppet's walk from behind.
|12 - 17 July||Book Week: Carringbush Theatrette, Richmond (Double bill with Beastly Combinations|
|5 - 9 October||Maroondah High School Theatrette, Croydon|
|12 – 16 October||Alexander Theatre Monash University, Clayton|
|19 – 23 October||The Mill Theatre, Geelong|
|2 – 6 November||St. Paul’s Hall, Ballarat|
|9 – 11 November||Anthill Theatre, South Melbourne|
|19 January||Frankston State College, Victoria|
|March||AMP Theatre, Adelaide Festival Fringe|
|8 – 21 May||School Holidays season Anthill Theatre, South Melbourne|