Jandy Malone and the Nine O'Clock Tiger

Premiere 12 July, 1981
Venue Carringbush Library Theatrette, Richmond

Jandy Malone and the Nine O'Clock Tiger Handspan Theatre bedroom setting on stage two beds and outline of a tiger visible through central door

Jandy Malone and the Nine O'clock Tiger The set, dsigned by Ken Evans, at Carringbush Library Theatrette
Photograph: © Jon Conte, 1981
An imaginative approach to design and direction including black theatre, strobe-lit melodrama, puppets, live actors and a set which is startling, humorous and functional.
Dan Brewbly, Review: Lowdown, Vol.3 No.1,1981

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 early 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.

Jandy Malone and the Nine O'Clock Tiger, Handspan Theatre Jandy in bed frightened of tiger face looming behind her

Jandy Helen Rickards and her imagined Tiger behind the bedroom door

Photograph: © Jon Conte,1981

Jandy Malone and the Nine O'Clock Tiger Handspan Theatre -  puppeteer in black sitting on a trolley stool on casters operating boy puppet

Little brother Peter, (Puppeteer Peter J.Wilson) operated with modified Taskeshi Shuffle trolley
Photograph: © Maeve Vella 1981

Jandy Malone and the Nine O'Clock Tiger Handspan Theatre - a girl kneeling on floor with puppet looking at a shadowy tiger figure through the doorway

Jandy Helen Rickards facing her fears with Peter (Peter J.Wilson, Puppeteer)
Photograph: © Maeve Vella,1981
Click photos to enlarge

The Play

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, Elizabeth Walley who played Jandy, and 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.

Jandy and Peter flew over the city skyline in Jandy's bedtime storytelling, clutching umbrella above a pop-up city scape. When this flight of fancy would no longer hold her fears at bay, and Jandy makes her way down the corridor behind the scrim doorway to fact the Tiger, she

discovers such horrors as the grandfather clock and the family piano leaping out to frighten her in a ... marvellously magical black theatre sequence.

Dan Brewbly, Review: Lowdown, Vol.3 No.1,1981


1 Jandy Malone and the Nine O'Clock Tiger by Barbara Bolton, illustrated by Alan White. Published Angus & Robertson, Australia, 1980

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Creative team
Writer Barbara Bolton
Stage Adaptation Handspan Theatre
Director Helen Rickards
Designer Ken Evans
Composer Will Conyers
Costume Designer Laurel Frank
Puppets Anita Sinclair (Mask of Janus)
Jandy Malone Helen Rickards (July 1981); Elizabeth Walley
Peter (Puppet boy) Peter J.Wilson
Dad & various puppeteer Ken Evans (July 1981); Steven Gration/Ian Roland
Production team
Set construction Ken Evans and the company
Production Manager Peter J.Wilson
Stage Manager Ian J Rolland (Anthill Theatre season 1982)
Photographer Jon Conte

Scroll back to Click Tabs: The Production & The Performances

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
Total performances Unknown
Total audience Unknown

Scroll back to Click Tabs: The Production & The Performances

For Young People: