Ad­ven­ture of miss­ing sock

Cockburn Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Tanya MacNaughton

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 choose-yourown-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. When you get to other places, you have to choose whether you want the sol­diers or the Red Cross.

“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 choose-your-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 cheque, 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.

Pic­ture: Mar­tin Ken­nealey­mu­ni­ d481389

Artis­tic di­rec­tor and co-cre­ator Philip Mitchell from Spare Parts Pup­pet The­atre with Sock Moun­tain.

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