|Premiere||5 November 1988|
|Venue||Castlemaine Swimming Pool, Castlemaine, Victoria|
WAVES OF CHANGE was created in response to the Australian Bicentennial Year (1988) and billed as ''a unique perspective on our island home and the waves of settlement that have come to make up our Australian community". The play was written by Melbourne comedian, Tony Rickards, and directed by Handspan's newly appointed Artistic Director, Trina Parker.
The concept of doing a show in a swimming pool had been brought to the company some years earlier by John Rogers, the idea broached (and shelved) at successive company Dreaming meetings for some time, and at last activated by Trina Parker and Philip Lethlean in this production for Australia's Bicentenary celebrations.
The 200 year anniversary provided an opportunity to investigate this innovative performance locale by creating a water spectacle about the island nation that is Australia through a comic history of its icons. Government support was available for such contemplative celebrations, or revelations, of its national identity in 1988, and made the ambitious and multifaceted, site-specific production possible.
WAVES OF CHANGE was developed with the Castlemaine Arts Festival and the City of Castlemaine who facilitated Handspan’s residency in the municipal pool for a month to rehearse the work.
It was cold in Castlemaine in October and the set-up for the show was complex. The winter-empty pool was lined with black plastic and scaffolding was erected for a central stage and to anchor objects and lights. The pool was filled, the puppeteers donned full-length wet suits to perform, and learned to work under the surface, in the dark.
WAVES OF CHANGE was a humorous and satirical look at Australia’s past that evolved in scenes introduced by a comic MC/auctioneer, Rod Primrose, around whom images appeared from beneath and across the surrounding water - all to be sold off to the highest bidder.
The play was accompanied by an original soundtrack composed by Marcia Howard from Australia’s iconic band, Goanna and mixed with recorded voiceovers, it began with swans gliding across the water as the island of Australia rose from beneath its surface. The pool stage was packed with animated objects and effects: floating constructions which transformed, water sprays, light beams, large scale rod puppets and an abundance of small images operated by wet suited scuba diving puppeteers.
Handspan's long stay in the town involved artists in a community residency and workshop program from which Images were added to the final show. A flotilla of tiny paper boats was made by the local primary school, and the Castlemaine Country Fire Authority contributed the firework finale.
The production was a huge undertaking and only partly a successful theatrical drama.
Cold it was for patrons perched high on scaffolding bleachers outdoors on a wintery night. Local audiences were nevertheless very enthusiastic and the play was a unique contribution to Victoria’s Bicentenary Arts program.
|Production construction||Philip Lethlean, Sue Davis, Laurel Frank, Paul Newcombe, Cliff Dolliver, Horse (Dolphins) and performers|
|Production/stage manager||Liz Pain|
|Stage technicians||Cliff Dolliver, Liz Pain, Paul Gabbert, Sue Davis|
|Lighting operator||Philip Lethlean|
|Sound operator||Marcia Howard|
|Ski jet operator||Grant Kramer|
|Music engineer||Chris Wilson (Studio 7)|
|Soundtrack engineers||Gary Cranston & Wayne Fox|
|Publicity & administration||Stephen Armstrong|
|Work experience students||Luke Hodgson, Michael Treloar & Jodie Letts|
|5 & 6 November, 1988||Castlemaine Municipal Pool, Castlemaine Festival, Victoria|