Posts Tagged ‘theatre’

Walking with the Giants

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Regular readers may recall an outing Sir Pubert and I had in Liverpool to see Royal de Luxe’s Giants walking around Albert Docks. Having fallen in love with these amazing creatures, I was exceptionally excited to discover that they were coming Perth around the same time that I was heading home. When I then found out that the Perth International Arts Festival was looking for volunteers to help out with the show, I quickly applied and was lucky enough to be selected.

Two Saturdays ago, I spent the afternoon at a top secret location being briefed on what my volunteer role would involve and then meeting the Giants for the first time. The Little Girl Giant and a Diver Giant were part of the show and my fellow volunteers and I were allowed to watch part of the rehearsal. Clearly I have become emotional in my old age as I almost cried as I watched the two Giants stand up and start moving – the Little Girl being hoisted into the air by a crane where she started dancing to Royal de Luxe’s live band. It was so wonderful to be that close to these characters and to be able to watch them interact with each other. I wanted to give them hugs.

diver perth giant

The Diver is having a sleep.

The three day show started on Friday and, as I was part of the Diver team, I spent the three days looking after this very tall man. Friday involved asking people not to touch his helmet as he lay outside Perth train station having a bit of a snooze. The real fun and stress started on Saturday.

Today was the big day for the Diver – he was going to wake up and head off on a stroll through the city. Thousands of people turned up at Forest Place to see the raising of the Giant, one or two more spectators than the organisers expected. This caused a slight delay in the start of the show and he ran an hour over time. Surprisingly, the crowds of people who had been standing in the sun for over three hours didn’t complain too much and I only saw three people faint. When he finally got up, the volunteers formed a large human and red-and-white-striped-tape ‘bubble’ around the Giant, the music truck and all of his crew and we walked through Perth.

Giant diver perth

The Giant has a rest on his walk.

Walking alongside a Giant’s foot is quite daunting when there isn’t much room between you, the foot and the camera-holding crowd. There were moments where I thought that perhaps the end was nigh but at least I could have “Crushed by a Giant” on my headstone. Somehow, with many stressful moments, a lot of broken tape, and one or two disgruntled crowd members who were asked to move out of the way of the approaching Giant, we managed to move the Diver across town to Wellington Square and then, to his final resting point for the evening, down by the foreshore. Sunday was a similar event with the Diver and the Little Girl walking together and hopping on to a boat on the Swan River.

giant diver and little girl

The Diver and the Little Girl prepare for their boat trip.

Overall it was an amazing opportunity to be able to be up close to such incredible pieces of art – the structure and movement of these creatures is astonishing. Plus the performers who manipulate the Giants with their endless energy and stamina, jumping and pulling on ropes wearing thick velour suits in 30 degree heat – pure stupidity really, but an amazing performance. I felt honoured to be able to walk alongside them and be part of bringing the show to Perth.

It was a little disappointing to hear some of the negative comments amongst the crowd when their view was blocked due to a music truck or they were asked to step back to let a Giant past. It was a free show, there were hundreds of thousands of people watching and it is quite a feat to get giant marionettes to walk through a city without upsetting one or two people. Saying that, one of my favourite aspects of the show, was watching the joy and awe on the faces of so many people who lined the streets to Perth to watch these two walk past. Eyes were bulging and jaws dropped to the ground – Perth had never seen anything like this before and people were loving it.

little girl giant

Hello, Little Girl.

I was thrilled to play a small role in the Giants’ visit to Perth and it is definitely an experience for the memory bank. However, I was quite pleased to get home on Sunday afternoon and to not be standing in the direct sun, slowly burning to a crisp. I got a slight tan – I’m now a darker shade of pale.

War Horsing About

Friday, August 1st, 2014

I had heard great things about the stage production of War Horse and I was very, very lucky to be invited to see it at The Lowry theatre last week. There is always a risk with shows that get talked up a lot that you finally see it and are severely disappointed. Media reviews, friends and the general word on the street gave War Horse two very big thumbs up. Dangerous territory. So I lowered my hopes a notch and went in believing the horses would be RUBBISH.

Thankfully, for once, the rumours were true – it was a remarkable show. The giant mechanised horses were fantastic – there were moments throughout the show there I honestly believed I was watching live animals on stage. The puppeteers did amazing jobs moving the horses and bringing them to life. I am not an animal lover, but I felt an true emotional attachment to these creatures. My reactions may have been slightly influenced by my heightened emotional state having said goodbye to my Dad and brother that day, but even still I wanted Joey and Albert to be reunited. JOOOOEEEEEEYYYYYYY!!!

I did get a little bit hung up on the weird accent of the main character, Albert. It sounded like he was talking with a gob-stopper under his tongue. But apart from this, the cast was brilliant and I didn’t fall asleep once. The best character was the goose that flapped its way across the stage on a rotating wheel. A bit of light humour to lift a sad story.

Rediscovering Shakespeare

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

During high school, I loathed reading Shakespeare. I didn’t understand it, there were long dramatic monologues that just annoyed me, and I was then forced to write essays that I generally failed. So as a result, my thoughts towards Will have never been particularly positive and I have avoided interacting with his work as much as possible. So imagine my current state of surprise that I have spent the last few days walking around talking to myself in ye-olde-Shakespearean. Yes, perhaps I am slowly going mad, or maybe I have experienced the momentous occasion in one’s life when suddenly Shakespeare makes sense.

While in Paris, I received an email from a Manchester-events-website, GoSeeThis, offering me discounted tickets to see an all-male production by the theatre group, Propeller, of Taming of the Shrew and/or The Twelfth Night at the Lowry Theatre. As a lover of bargains and discounts, I couldn’t look past it so bought tickets for myself and my cousin, Lesley, to see Taming of the Shrew.

It was wonderful – a contemporary version with music, singing, comedy, great costumes and very clever stage production. It was fast paced but moving – the main conflict of male/female roles was quite confronting for the audience and we were all made to feel quite uncomfortable about the concepts being portrayed. The actors were brilliant as they changed between roles and portrayed female characters with amazing skill.

Lesley and I enjoyed it so much that we decided to try and get tickets for the Twelfth Night the following evening. So Saturday we headed back to the Lowry to watch yet another wonderful production, again with a clever inclusion of song and music but a completely different feel to the piece we had seen the night before.

I came away from both of these shows with a sudden desire to read Shakespeare – that’s how good the productions were! I have become aware of the great stories in his works and that maybe I am missing out on some wonderful literature.