SIDE Pony Productions was started by WAAPA graduate Zoe Pepper to present her often dark and humorous works for adult audiences.
So creating Audioplay:The Turners for children aged seven to 11 years old is a big sidestep from her wider body of work.
Her older sister Gemma works as producer for Side Pony Productions and said it was their second work for children and “a very different kettle of fish”.
“It’s been an evolution over time where we started exploring the idea of how we could engage technology in live performance while still being pretty invisible,” Gemma said.
“We started playing with the idea of the intimacy of telling a story in someone’s ear and what that gives to the experience. Once we played with that a little bit, we found that adults needed a lot of coaxing to step into the story and play, whereas children loved it and were totally up for just going there.”
The sisters approached Mick Elliott, Sydney author of The Turners series, after discovering his characters and story world was perfectly suited to their type of performance.
“His stories are based on characters Leo and Abbie and they are Turners, so they look human but turn into an animals and then turn back again,” Pepper said.
“The way that story world works is that there’s constantly a threat to their species. It’s like an action adventure structure and they are funny, engaging, sassy characters. So for us the action and movement of those pieces fitted well in terms of having kids play it out as the characters and the imagination that goes with turning into an animal.
“Mick was thankfully up for giving it a shot and seeing where it went.”
The result, Audioplay: The Turners, is part of the Awesome 2018 International Arts Festival for Bright Young Things at the State Library of WA.
The immersive audio experience has children listening to an audio school on headphones that heightens the imagination and helps them to feel like they’re in The Turners’ world, tackling the baddies.
“It’s a full blockbuster soundtrack with all of the music and sound effects,” Pepper said.
“It’s very active so the kids are running from one side of the room to the other, jumping around, really engrossed in the story and physically playing as the character that they’ve engaged with.”
What: Audioplay: The Turners
Where: State Library of WA
When: October 2 to 7