Residency May - July, 1986
Performance 15 July, 1986
Venue Wangaratta, Victoria

Handspan Theatre Snapshot artist-in-residency, Wangaratta - finale aerial view of massed crowd of children carrying puppets around a large camera

Snapshot Parade puppets assemble at St. Paul's School, Chisholm St, Wangaratta.
Photograph: © Jonathan McNaughton, 1986

A colourful and vivid display ... Reports that Town Clerk, Mr John Edward, was observed taking the salute from the steps of the Town Hall while wearing a glove puppet appear to have been confirmed.
Monday Magazine, unknown Wangaratta paper, July 1986

Handspan Theatre Snapshot -  advertitisng flyer black drawing of cameraman on white
Snapshot Flyer, 1986

SNAPSHOT '86 - A View of Wangaratta was an artist-in-residency workshop project devised and led by Andrew Hansen assisted by Peter Seaborn, Rob Matson, Ken Evans and Sue Coward for the Wangaratta Community Arts Centre in the rural north-central Victorian city.

The project was an invitation to the community: to interpret their local environment through puppetry.

The Concept

The initial idea for a puppetry artists-in-resident was mooted after Handspan had spent a week at Wangaratta Technical School in late 1985 leading puppetry workshops for Year 8 students. Malcolm Hansford then Wangaratta's Community Arts Officer took up the proposal and raised funds to host the program and extend it to the wider community.

Plans were developed by Andrew Hansen with Malcolm Hansford and his fellow arts officer, Heather Broadbent in March/April 1986 for a 12-week project that would involve school and community workshops and culminate in a public event about the life of Wangaratta and its North-east Victorian region.

The logistics of an event to include a minimum of 400 young participants across an age range from preschool to tertiary level determined that a pageant incorporating a brief theatrical moment rather than a puppet play or plays, would be an achievable outcome and SNAPSHOT was born.

The Project

Jonathan McNaughton took over as Community Arts Officer in mid 1986 and co-ordinated the development of the residency and its network of community connections.

For 10 weeks, puppet making and manipulation workshops were conducted in schools in Wangaratta and surrounding townships (including Edi, Thoona, Everton and Glenrowan), and with adults and community members at evening sessions at Wangaratta's Artspace.

The aim, to show people young and old how they can make puppets and in this novel way, say something about their community. If the level of participation shown by the success of 'Snapshot' is any indication, then the young people of Wangaratta have a lot to say.

Monday Magazine, unknown Wangaratta paper, July 1986

In early workshops, students developed themes about their local issues and circumstances, and learnt about possibilities for their visual interpretation. Relief 'maps' of sections of Wangaratta's map, inspired in part by the naive painting style of local artist, Lorna Chick. were made by T.O.P. Art and Design students from Wangaratta TAFE to form the settings for students final puppet plays.

Handspan Theatre Snapshot workshop projects on display

Locale Maps on display
Snapshot, private collection, 1986

Handspan Theatre Snapshot workshop projects on display

Junior primary school puppets assemble for the parade
Snapshot, private collection, 1986

Participants decided on the characters that inhabited their neighbourhood and made the puppets for the plays to be performed in their map..

Handspan workshop leaders and teachers visited schools regularly throughout the residency leading students to realise their dramatic and construction ideas and assisting with puppet-making and staging of their stories. Feedback letters were glowing, the Principal of Wangaratta Technical School1 noting that:
Students were extremely self-motivated and responded with enthusiasm, especially as seen in the images they created from large trucks, motor cars, police persons, a giant football and a koala, to others such as punk characters and living skeletons.

The Finale

The Public Event that was the climax of the SNAPSHOT project was a parade of over 900 children and puppets through the main street of Wangaratta led by a giant camera created by local artist, Ross Grounds, and worn by Handspan performer, Roberto Micale. Around 1200 residents and visitors lined the streets to view the event and cheer the participants on.

Handspan Theatre Snapshot large prop camera in front of crowd of children holding puppets

Cameraman Roberto Micale and the parade assembled to follow him
Snapshots, Private collection, 1986

Many local business supported the project with small donations and goods. Several additional Handspan members travelled the highway from Melbourne to assist in the final workshop week and wore bright yellow Handspan banners to became parade marshalls and puppet wranglers for the final event. Special permission was received from Council and the Road Authority to close the main Hume Highway (which then bisected the town) for an hour to enable the street parade and assembly.

The parade crowded the morning mainstreets and the 'Snapshot' of the final assemblage was taken from a cherry picker in Chisholm St before all dispersed to a lunchtime Puppet Picnic and performance exchange in the park.

Handspan Theatre Snapshot man and woman high above crowded school playground

On high, directing the Puppet Assembly with photographer, Jonathan McNaughton.

Handspan Theatre Snapshot man with megaphone in crowd

On the groundPeter Seaborn with megaphone marshalling parade banner-bearers
Click photos to enlarge

Supported by the Victorian Arts Council and Wangaratta's City and Community Arts Councils, the project engaged young and old across the community where it was received with curiosity and enthusiasm. Local businesses donated materials and local media and tourism outlets embraced the occasion.

Business in the heart of the city came to a halt when a fantastic cavalcade took to the streets in one of the largest and most unlikely parades Wangaratta has ever seen.

Monday Magazine, unknown Wangaratta paper, July 1986

In 1989 when We Repeat Ourselves was toured to Wangaratta schools Handspan was remembered with enthusiasm and was asked to run puppetry workshops schools and in the community in conjunction with the tour.

Scroll back to Click Tab: The People

Creative team
Project director Andrew Hansen
Project leaders Peter Seaborn, Rob Matson, Sue Coward, Ken Evans
Concept development Heather Broadbent & Malcolm Hansford (Community Arts Officers, Wangaratta)
Community liaison Jonathan McNaughton, Wangaratta Community Arts Officer
Cameraman Roberto Micale
Parade Marshalls Jon Stephens, Andrew Bleby, Jeffrey Lipp, Denise Haldane,Helen Rickards, Carmelina Di Guglielmo, Mary Coustas, Harriet Spalding, Tony Le

Scroll back to Click Tab: The Production