|HANDSPAN VISUAL THEATRE|
|Premiere||30 May, 1999|
|Venue||Victorian Arts Centre and Southbank Precinct, Melbourne|
Like the pyramid and the ziggurat, the cone provides the image of ascension, of development from the material to the spiritual, of the gradual spiritualisation of the world, of a oneness and a return to personalisation.
THE CONE PROJECT was devised and directed by Katy Bowman and was a successor to her project, The Phoenix Cycle produced by Handspan Visual Theatre in 1998. These were the only new works produced by the company during the two year period, but they were projects on a large scale.
THE CONE PROJECT was a multi-faceted work combining installations with roving performance segments. It was staged by the company throughout Melbourne's Southgate Arts precinct as part of the Victorian Arts Centre’s Winter Program, 1999.in partnership with the Victorian Arts Centre, Southgate Arts and Leisure Precinct and The Age Artstate’99 initiative.
The idea of the project was to represent the subtle changes and transformations of our lives through representations of cone-shaped objects.
Cone installations sited around the Arts Centre created multiple performance locations for six alchemists (Questors) who arranged and re-arranged their component parts.
Tall orange plastic cones ('witches hats' otherwise found at roadworks' sites) were lined up in rows and at angles across the Arts Centre Forecourt so that audiences peering into their apex viewed objects and text snippets that reflected the conical theme. Three metre high metal-framed perspex-covered cones stood curious and empty, and framed ‘in-cone’, spot Questor appearances; a maze of rubberised tree-cones became tumbling mats and juggling props for these dunce-like clowns performing acrobatic sketches; scaffold cones supported the Questors in aerial acts; and soft cone statues complemented the precinct landscape. Audience members played with the clowns and with the cones; and different performance activities popped-up around them throughout the precinct by day and at night.
The CONE PROJECT was a work of spectacle, site-specific and improvised performance, dramatic visual and physical theatre design, and snapshots of thought-provoking concept. It was accompanied by Composer, Darrin Verhagen's soundscape of his recorded music and on-site sound fragments interspersed with spoken text.
An unusual venture for the Arts Centre and the company: a season of free performance for audiences of all ages, the Project was one of the largest, and certainly the longest-running of Handspan’s outdoor works. It was performed in the precinct over a six-week period during which its cone peepshow installation was open daily.
An indoor installation of the small orange peephole cones was later remounted for display at the Victorian College of the Arts for the National Puppetry and Animatronics Summit in 2008.
THE CONE PROJECT was the last such production for the company itself, although former Handspan artists have continued to create outdoor spectacle incorporating the magic of animated imagery, across Australia and internationally, for large scale occasions, and small, into the 21st century.
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|30 May - 17 July||Victorian Arts Centre & Southgate Precinct, Melbourne|
|2008||Puppetry & Animatronics Summit installation, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne|
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