The Weird & the Wonderful
Ever wondered what lengths we go to to make some of our amazing productions come to life?
Here’s a handful of favourites from the past few years from around the office:
Custom built vessels for Five Short Blasts, 2019
No, these beautiful boats weren’t purchased from around town – they were built from scratch! Due to the unique nature of the performance and placement of the speakers the size of the boat was essential to how you experienced the work. This stunning journey took you along the Swan River and into the Fremantle Port while listening to the stories of people from the area.
By the way, did we mention these were for sale? If you want to own a unique piece of Festival history, check them out here.
Image: Five Short Blasts, cr. Cam Campbell
Fish balls for Wot? No Fish!! 2019
The heart-warming creation from Danny Braverman told the story of his great-uncle Ab Solomons who for 50 years drew a cartoon on his weekly wage-packet chronicling the ups and downs of his family life and the surrounding social and political upheavals. Every audience member who witnessed the show was offered a fish-ball – kosher, of course! This also meant that we needed to locate a pig-free oven to cook them in, which surprisingly is no mean feat.
Image: Wot? No Fish!! cr. Tony Lewis
A tonne of clay for Cassils, 2019
The honourable mention for finding difficult things goes to Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, who for Cassils' live performance had to source one tonne of clay for the artist to mold via a boxing session in the pitch-black on our opening night in 2019.
A man-made forest for The House Where Winter Lives, 2014
Can you imagine a dark, pine-filled forest nestled into the Perth CBD? This dream became a reality in 2014 when Perth Festival turned the entire Downstairs at His Majesty’s Theatre into a complete forest, which also had to be flame-proof!
Image: The House Where Winter Lives, cr. Toni Wilkinson
3,500 blown-up condoms for Pindorama, 2016
Speaking of converting full spaces, the team at our reception desk didn’t know what hit them when a shipment of 3,500 lube-free condoms were delivered to the office in 2016. These were then filled with water and used to fill the entire of Studio Underground at the State Theatre Centre of WA (only after they had water-proofed the space entirely). Fun fact: these were popped during the show by a team of brilliant Brazilian dancers rolling on top of them.
A giant shoe-box for A Mile in My Shoes, 2016
To bring A Mile in My Shoes into being Perth Festival had to create a giant shoe-box known as the 'empathy shoe shop', where visitors literally walked in other people's shoes while listening to their life story. Made from a custom-built sea container a crane had to lift it into Supreme Court Gardens – road closures, anyone?
Image: A Mile In My Shoes
400 speakers on the Perth skyline for Siren Song, 2017
At dawn and dusk, the female voices of Siren Song descended from the sky signalling the arrival and departure of the light each day. How did these voices descend? One helicopter and 400 speakers on top of Perth's major rooftops in the CBD. Some of the buildings didn't have any lifts, so staff had to carry these speakers up numerous flights of stairs to the roof!
Image: Siren Song, cr. Robert Frith
A heated swimming pool for Vessel, 2018
For Vessel in 2018, the Perth Festival team had to build a heated pool on the main stage of the Heath Ledger Theatre – it took half a week to build from the ground up, with a water truck hired to distribute the pool water each day across the major gardens and lawns of the CBD. Personally, we think the lawn at Elizabeth Quay never looked better.
Hundreds of metal wheat stalks for The Great Tamer, 2019
The stand-out show from the 2019 Festival, The Great Tamer required hundreds of wheat stalks daily all fixed to individual metal rods, where one end was sharpened so when thrown across the stage it would stick into the stage, leaving an arc of chaffs. The wheat was sourced from Northam and collected by the Perth Festival production team who individually crafted each metal chaff stick.
Image: The Great Tamer, cr. Julian Mommert
Hundreds of antiques for Worktable, 2019
Taxidermy ducklings, ceramics, an iron and multiple guitars – this is just a handful of hundreds of items that were individually sourced to be part of Worktable, a show that allowed attendees to destroy objects and then recreate them. Second hand shops across WA have never been scoured so heavily by one company with the Worktable team heading to antique fairs and stores as far as Albany to find just the right item (to break with a hammer).
Image: Worktable, cr. Kate McIntosh
An entire last minute set for Farewell to Paper, 2017
This charming one-man show that gave paper, and everything it represents a proper send-off was ironically, not sent off in time. With the set not arriving in time for the show our team had to build it from scratch two days before the opening night!
Image: Farewell to Paper
100 men for The Second Woman, 2018
Virginia, a woman, waits. A door opens. A man, Marty, enters. They talk, they laugh, they make polite chit chat. They have a drink and eat and dance together. He leaves. Then she does it all over again, and again, 100 times for a full 24 hours. Finding 100 men to participate in this performance was as challenging as you can expect. The team also had to locate 200 noodle boxes from the UK for each of the men to have in the scene.
Image: The Second Woman
Two tonnes of feathers for Place Des Anges, 2012
A blizzard of feathers was sourced to coat the city in 2012, filling the Perth CBD with a wave of white. These feathers had confirmed sightings at either end of the train line for weeks afterward. Similarly in 2019, feathers were sourced for the final scene in Swan Lake – and they had to be white so staff and volunteers had a fun few days separating white feathers from the grey and brown.
Image: Place des Anges
One thousand torches for Home, 2016
One thousand tiny children’s polypropylene houses needed holes punched large enough to house a torch in the 2016 Perth Festival opening event. Unfortunately, the pre-purchased torches arrived a day after the event finished. A last minute shopping spree around the city luckily saw the event come to light.
Image: Home, cr. Rachael Barrett
Banner Image: Home, cr. Jess Wyld