|Premiere||26 September, 1989|
|Venue||U2 Universal Theatre, Fitzroy|
WOMEN ALONE was a collection of vignette acts devised and performed by Handspan woman members.
Conceptually, the pieces were envisioned as object theatre works, presented by visible puppeteers animating existing, 'found' objects and interacting directly with them, a style often presented in table top staging. Handspan had previously explored the form for its versatility in small scale touring in Guts (1984).
French puppeteer Jacques Templeraud, from Théâtre Manarf, was invited to work with Handspan to develop the project. His availability to spend several weeks in Melbourne could not be confirmed however, and participation in a creative development project was offered to Handspan members based on their individual concept proposals submitted to Executive Artistic Director, Trina Parker. When it transpired that the chosen concepts were all from women members, the idea to package the works as a showcase of women's work was born with the title, WOMEN ALONE.
In the end only three of the vignettes were developed to showcase, and these premiered in a double bill with No Right Angles in Paradise for the Melbourne Spoleto Fringe Festival in 1989, followed by an Adelaide Fringe Festival season in 1990.
The WOMEN ALONE playbill included:
Devised and performed by Annie Wylie Listening for the Heartbeat was an original, unaccompanied song cycle performed in three segments - Red Riding Hood, Invitation and I Sometimes Feel So Empty played as entr'actes to punctuate the show. The songs described the cycle of a woman's life - from sexual innocence to knowledge, and finally to self-appreciation and acceptance.
Each song was performed by Annie as she operated simple and comic pop up scenes on her table-top.
The most successful piece was Red Riding Hood, which
Michele Spooner devised The Immaculate Contraption which showed the journey of an egg trying to be fertilised across three eras.
Developed with Ariette Taylor and, like Ariette's production, Four Little Girls, The Therapeutist aimed to bring the painting to life at the same time as revealing the inner world of the character represented by the image.
WOMEN ALONE was well received by both audiences and critics. Its opening showcase season for the Melbourne Piccolo Spoleto Festival at U2, Universal Theatre was sold out and extended for a further week after its Fringe dates.
At the Adelaide Festival Fringe a few months later, where segments from Moments were included in the work, the season was awarded 4 Stars by The Advertiser critic, Adele Ferguson, and won the paper's weekly Fringe Award for Excellence.
In 1992 The Immaculate Contraptionand The Therapist toured to the UNIMA Congress in Ljublijana with No Right Angles in Paradise and in 1994 Michele independently revived The Immaculate Contraption for a performance at the 3rd International Women Playwright's Conference in Adelaide.
|Listening to the Heartbeat|
|Devised by||Annie Wylie|
|Designed & directed||Ken Evans|
|The Immaculate Contraption|
|Devised & designed||Michele Spooner|
|Devised & designed by||Katy Bowman|
|Directorial assistance||Ariette Taylor|
|Lighting Design||Philip Lethlean|
|26 - 30 September 1989||U2, Universal Theatre, Fitzroy, Spoleto Fringe Festival, Melbourne|
|5 - 8 October 1989||Extended season: U2, Universal Theatre, Fitzroy, Melbourne|
|12 - 18 March, 1990||Lion Theatre, Living Arts Centre, Adelaide Fringe Festival|
|North Shepparton Secondary College, Goulburn Valley Community Music Autumn Series, Victoria|
|14 - 19 June, 1992||16th UNIMA Congress, Ljublijana, Slovenia (The Immaculate Contraption and The Therapist only)|
|4 July, 1994||Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, 3rd International Women Playwrights Conference (The Immaculate Contraption only)|
|Total audiences||700 (excluding 1992)|