Path to kind­ness guides pup­pet work

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Arts - Tom Vick­ers and the Ex­tra­or­di­nary Ad­ven­ture of his Miss­ing Sock WA Ship­wrecks Mu­seum Un­til April 29 Tanya Macnaughton

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey SMALL acts of kind­ness can trans­form the world.

This was the start­ing point for Spare Parts Pup­pet The­atre artis­tic di­rec­tor Philip Mitchell and his team five years ago when they started on An­zac cen­te­nary work Tom Vick­ers and the Ex­tra­or­di­nary Ad­ven­ture of his Miss­ing Sock.

“The con­tent we were look­ing at was tak­ing the idea of the Christ­mas truce in 1914 as an act of kind­ness,” Mitchell said.

“And then look­ing at all the acts of kind­ness over the past 100 years that con­trib­ute to a bet­ter world we live in.”

The re­sult is 10 per­form­ers and 19 in­stal­la­tions through­out WA Ship­wrecks Mu­seum, where peo­ple in groups of 16 move along five dif­fer­ent path­ways in a choosey­our-own-ad­ven­ture style.

“You make a choice af­ter sol­dier Tom Vick­ers talks about his ex­pe­ri­ence at the Christ­mas truce in a black-and-white 3D video,” Mitchell said.

“He says, ‘We chose not to fight that night. What do you choose, the sock or the boot?’ and so you have to choose which phys­i­cal path to go on. Then when you get to other places, you have to choose whether you want the sol­diers or the Red Cross. WHAT: WHERE: WHEN: TICK­ETS:

“I think most of the work went into the game de­sign of it be­cause kids are the ex­perts at this. It’s like a liv­ing com­puter game and we read a lot of choosey­our-own-ad­ven­ture books.”

Mitchell said the sim­i­lar­ity be­tween a mu­seum and pup­petry both telling sto­ries through ob­jects made WA Ship­wrecks Mu­seum the per­fect part­ner for Tom Vick­ers, which fea­tures in­stal­la­tions such as a 4.5m-high moun­tain of socks, knit­ted by groups across WA and based on the stan­dard grey sock knit­ted for the troops.

“The three things sol­diers wanted were their pay check, let­ters from home and socks be­cause on the West­ern Front trench foot was pro­lific, where men’s feet would rot,” he said.

“While there are no mov­ing pup­pets as peo­ple would ex­pect from a Spare Parts show, these are go­ing back to the ori­gins of pup­pets, which uses icons brought to life through peo­ple’s be­lief in them.

“So a sock mound where a child might think ‘Wow, all those socks were knit­ted for the troops’ and an adult might go ‘Wow, all those sol­diers died wear­ing those socks’.”

Tom Vick­ers also looks at the lack of Abo­rig­i­nal sol­dier rights and the no­tion of home and indige­nous con­nec­tion to coun­try.

The fi­nal ac­tiv­ity is plant­ing a seed for a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion project in Rock­ing­ham, rep­re­sent­ing a small act of kind­ness in 2018.

“It’s an in­ter­est­ing di­rec­tion for Spare Parts in look­ing at more works that con­nect emo­tion­ally to an au­di­ence hav­ing real ex­pe­ri­ences as part of a per­for­mance,” Mitchell said.

“We’re still call­ing out for vol­un­teers who can help with things like serv­ing cups of tea or the An­zac bis­cuit tast­ing.

“Tom Vick­ers is de­signed for five years and older and is most def­i­nitely an adult and child per­for­mance, so adults should feel free to come by them­selves and there’s noth­ing con­fronting for chil­dren.”­mu­ni­ d481389

Spare Parts Pup­pet The­atre artis­tic di­rec­tor and co-cre­ator Philip Mitchell at Sock Moun­tain.

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