SPARE Parts Puppet Theatre’s new work On Our Beach may have no story or script but it certainly still has puppets.
Continuing the company’s delve into experimental theatre, the school holiday season is an immersive experience by Dr Peta Murray (Blueback) designed for audiences to get a good dose of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endomorphins through contact with other people.
“It’s very easy to passively consume images, thoughts and ideas with terribly addictive tablets, iPhones and Instagram,” artistic director Philip Mitchell said.
“Murray’s research looks at if we are losing some of these chemicals because of the lifestyle we’re now living.
“It’s essential we’re releasing these chemicals in our bodies but we need to release the whole dose, not just for our heads and minds but also our bodies and emotions as well.”
The experience begins from the moment you enter the venue via the back door where theatre-goers are identified (you have to draw your picture on a name tag) and protected from beach nasties like sunburn, mozzies and stingers.
Then there is the chance to take a photo with a giant postcard, and ride a surfboard in front of a big wave made out of towels, before entering the theatre space for a series of beach activities including Sculptures by the Sea and volleyball where the ball is operated as a puppet.
“At the beginning there’s some beautiful sequences of underwater puppets with eels and jellyfish,” Mitchell said.
“Then there’s a dog called FOMO who isn’t allowed on the beach and there’s seagull puppets too.”
The experience includes live music by PNG Australian musician Tani Walker and centres around fairness and unfairness in Australian culture.
A series of unfair things will happen on the beach to make some audience members feel discriminated against.
“We are looking at the currency in Australia at how we discriminate against people for no particular reason other than their colour and their culture,” Mitchell said.
“It brings that idea of the beach as the place where Australians gather and we’re all equal on the beach.
“It’s housed in something extremely joyous and the payoff is a 15,000 ball pit that drops from the ceiling at the end of the show which becomes the ocean where everyone gets to play in it together.
‘It’s joy personified with music all the way through it. The last song Imagine Your Feet Are Fish plays while you put your shoes back on after your experience On Our Beach.”
What: On Our Beach
Where: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle
When: September 28 to October 12