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 audiences enter the venue via the back door where theatre-goers are identified (they have to draw a 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.
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.
“It brings that idea of the beach as the place where we’re all equal,” Mitchell said.