|Premiere||9 November, 1990, Castlemaine State Festival|
|Venue||Castlemaine Library Hall|
THE WOODEN CHILD explored the subject of boys’ relationships with their fathers and men’s emotional responses to childbirth. It was subject matter close to the lives of Handspan artists several of whom were themselves beginning to have children and experience the complicated reality and conflicting emotions of parenthood at the time this work was produced.
The work was first conceived in discussions during production of Running Up A Dress by Suzanne Spunner. produced by Home Cooking Company in 1986. Carmelina Di Guglielmo and Meredith Rogers performed the play about housewifely roles and realities, and on the sidelines, their husbands, Ken Evans and Ken Harper became inspired to plan a new work about 'men's business'. Putting in a Diff, conceptually to be staged around Ken Evans' 1960s red holden ute.
In the following years, the play evolved, written by Ken Harper during his wife's pregnancy and based on workshops with male colleagues at Handspan, Ken Evans, Peter J.Wilson, and woodcraftsman, Barry Mills.
THE WOODEN CHILD was staged in black theatre on a full stage, and set in a carpenter’s workshop. Its plot wove three father-son narratives together. Carlo Collodi's story of Pinocchio paralleled a story of an adult making toys for his unborn child while reflecting on his own childhood relationship with his father. He became the young boy watching his father go off to business and to war - always distant. And his nurturing love illustrated the man’s potential to be both a creator and a destroyer as he carved and animated his toys.
Some critics were utterly unmoved by the production:
But predominantly they were impressed:
The production moved some audience members to send notes of affirmation about their emotional response to the work. Two are reproduced in this document: Fan Letters to The Wooden Child (pdf)
|9 - 11 November 1990||Castlemaine Library Hall, Castlemaine State Festival, Victoria|
|14 Nov – 9 December 1990||Universal Theatre, Fitzroy, Victoria|
|4 Jan -19 January 1991||The Playhouse, Sydney Opera House, Festival of Sydney, NSW|
|Total performances||25 (1990 est); 19 (1991)|
|Total audience||2950 (1990 est); 1,100 (1991)|