WA Museum Geraldton: Interactive show explores war

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
VideoVideo: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s innovative “choose your own adventure” show in Geraldton brings punters right into the heart of the story by making them active participants.

From May 10 to 13, the Museum of Geraldton will be transformed into an exciting, hands-on adventure for the world premiere of Tom Vickers and the Extraordinary Adventure of His Missing Sock.

Participants start out on a battlefield in World War I, weaving their way through the museum and story as they explore mysterious objects, artefacts and performance installations.

It has a cast of 10 performers, 19 installations and a 4.5m high mountain of socks.

Artistic director Philip Mitchell said the show was five years in the making.

“This is Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s largest work in our 40 year history,” he said.

“We started with the idea of wanting to do a large-scale work for the Anzac centenary, but we decided we wanted to tell a different story and have a different angle.

“It’s less about celebrating the legacy and more about learning from the legacy about what is important to us now.

“We look at small acts of kindness and how they can change the world.”

The show debuted last month at the WA Shipwrecks Museum in Fremantle, proving popular with children, teenagers and adults.

Although the Geraldton show follows the same story, local historical items and stories will be interwoven into the bigger picture.

Audiences will be able to consider the impact of war and interact with the tragic tale of Geraldton’s Groessler family who were originally from Germany, but had lived as naturalised Australians for more than 20 years.

When WWI broke out, four sons went to fight for Australia, but after they left the family were declared illegal aliens, both parents lost their jobs and one son was killed.

A number of local volunteers have jumped on board to help out with the performance, including six Country Women’s Associations that knitted hundreds of socks.

“This is not just a city performance, it’s a work that’s been created with the community as part of the community,” Mitchell said. “We’ve spent a lot of time coming to Geraldton and learning about the history of Geraldton’s involvement in WWI.

“We did a lot of work with Chris Cox from the 11th Battalion Living History Unit, he took us out to see the trench and donated a lot of objects, and we have a collection of items from Birdwood House.

“The museum has let us into a lot of the behind-scenes spaces as well, including the loading dock.

“It’s incredible the support we’ve got from the Geraldton community.”

Each adventure through Tom Vickers and the Extraordinary Adventure of His Missing Sock can take anywhere between 50 and 90 minutes, with performances starting every 20 minutes.

Today, sessions run from 5pm to 7pm, and 10am to 3pm tomorrow and Sunday.

For tickets, visit www.sppt.asn.au.

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