|Premiere||31 July, 1991|
|Venue||Melbourne Metropolitan Secondary School (unknown)|
LUNATIC SOUP was developed by Handspan in 1991 to follow the company’s successful secondary schools touring production, We Repeat Ourselves (1989/90).
Both plays were written by Gilly Farrelly (McInnes) with Handspan artists, and originally directed by Avril McQueen. Both were issue-based works that aimed to use the powerful tool of puppetry performance to introduce taboo topics, and as a springboard and stimulus for discussion with upper secondary school students.
LUNATIC SOUP tackled issues of substance use and abuse, particularly highlighting the perils of alcohol and cigarettes.
Played in and around a black theatre booth, puppet characters, Michael and Carol are inveigled into a warehouse heist by Mr Millyun to steal cans of ‘lunatic soup’ – and drink it!
In short comic scenes, LUNATIC SOUP explored notions of ‘who is controlling what’ by exposing the relationship between the puppet and the manipulator.
A teacher’s guide for discussion after the show, including puppetry notes accompanied school performances.
Schools sent feedback from the production’s 1991 tour1 :
Peg Morgan, a lone press reviewer of the work found it:
After its successful 1991 tour, LUNATIC SOUP was remounted with a new cast, directed by Christine Anketell, for a further schools touring season in 1992.
LUNATIC SOUP was the last theatre-in-education piece to be created by Handspan for ensemble touring. By the final decade of the 20th century Handspan artists were no longer passionate proponents of theatre for young people and were no longer drawn from education-based drama training. Company membership had evolved to include professionally trained performers from the now-established courses at the Victorian College of the Arts and Swinburne University, and from contemporary puppet companies in the Australian industry. All were eager to engage with visual theatre in more public arenas than offered by school touring and thus, what had been a key arm of Handspan's artistic direction and its viability for its first two decades, was no longer a programming priority.
However, LUNATIC SOUP and its predecessor We Repeat Ourselves were the inspiration for Co-productions in subsequent years, also written by Gilly Farrelly and created by Handspan in partnership with the Koori Health Centre in Fitzroy - The Kangaroo Tale (1995) and Slow Down Cuz (1997).
|31 July – 25 October 1991||Melbourne Metropolitan Secondary schools (77 performances)|
|6 July – 11 September 1992||Melbourne Metropolitan Secondary schools (45 performances)|