|Co-Production|| HANDSPAN THEATRE and the
VICTORIAN ARTS CENTRE EDUCATION PROGRAM
|Premiere||7 April, 1983|
|Venue||Melbourne Concert Hall, Victorian Arts Centre|
THE CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS was produced and presented by the Education Department of the Victorian Arts Centre for their first school performance in the recently opened Concert Hall (now Hamer Hall).
Susie Leigh, Education Officer at the Centre commissioned Handspan to create and animate visual, puppetry-based images to appear in concert with Saint-Saëns score played by the Victorian College of the Arts orchestra and with Fred Parslow, the Narrator for Ogden Nash's verse.
The work was performed for a short schools' audience season in Melbourne and was toured in the following year by Cate Fowler, Education Officer at the Adelaide Festival Centre for South Australia's Come Out Youth Arts Festival. In Adelaide it was re-staged for outdoor performance at the rotunda of the Adelaide Zoo, narrated by Kerry Walker and played by the Adelaide Department of Further Education Orchestra.
Handspan's contribution to the production was ambitious particularly for four performers.
In the Melbourne Concert Hall, the performance opened and closed with brief promenade scenes through the auditorium and on stage with the orchestra, performed by the Kangaroo, Platypus, Emu and Bunyip (from The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek) who protested the lack of Australia animals included in the The Carnival ... to the Narrator, and suggested nonsense verses (and appropriate tunes) of their own for inclusion amongst Ogden Nash's poems:
All but the Kangaroo were dismissed, and the Carnival of the Animals began. Each musical section was introduced by Parslow's narration and accompanied by animated, choreographed images of the creatures, including the Kangaroo, who are actually part of Saint-Saëns score.
The new venue supplied a purpose built scrim and black drapes that filled the vaulting proscenium space for the production and enabled the images to appear magically in corridor lighting. There were a lot of puppets required and all had to be spectacular and large enough to have an impact in the vast concert hall, and flexible enough to be manipulated by only four performers who stood high up on narrow rostra and operated their puppets at arms length, overhead, in order for them to be visible above the orchestra, from the stalls.
In Adelaide, for outdoor performance in broad daylight, the Australian animal preamble was dropped and the images which accompanied the orchestral sections of The Carnival ... were adapted for movement sequences viewed in the round, outside the rotunda within which the orchestra played.
In 1984 Susie Leigh again commissioned Handspan for a similar production at the Concert Hall, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, designed and directed by Trina Parker for which no records have been found in the archives.
|7 - 8 April, 1983||Concert Hall, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne|
|9 May, 1983||Rotunda Adelaide Zoo, South Australia|