Invisible Me

Invisible Me

QPAC & Southern Cross Soloists

12th June – 17th June 2012

Reviewed by Michelle Bull

As a singing teacher, I have often found it amazing the way kids seem to be intrinsically drawn to music from an early age. It appears that until the time comes where Triple j or Video Hits determine what’s cool and what’s not, music in any style, even chamber music, can bring just as much excitement as a One Direction concert or the promise of a never-ending bowl of ice cream. It was with this in mind that I found my place on a cushion in QPAC’s concert hall foyer amidst a sea of giggles, knobbley knees and excited chatter for a playful start to my Tuesday morning.

Invisible Me, directed by Brendon Ross and composed by Joseph Twist, features acclaimed chamber music ensemble, the Southern Cross Soloists and is presented as part of the Out of the Box Festival 2012. A musical realisation of the award-winning story by author, Wendy Binks, the giggles of delight and wide-eyed wonder on the little faces around me proved this adaptation to no doubt be an exciting realisation of this heartwarming story.

The show, like the story, follows the escapades of Stripey, a baby Emu as she searches for a place to be invisible, and along the way meets an array of colourful characters.

The part of Stripey is played to perfection by actor/dancer Stacey McCallum, who has the young audience (and us oldies!) captivated by her wonderful physicality and engaging characterisation of the adventurous baby emu. Using QPAC’s concert hall foyer as an interactive performance space, the simple paneled set provides a sense of place while McCallum leaps and bounds though the space to a chorus of shouts and giggles and the odd detailed instruction from a chatty 3-year old audience member!

Providing a playful soundtrack, rich with narrative and characterisation, the Southern Cross Soloists are exquisite, as they act both as a musical storyboard and as the colourful characters Stripey encounters on her journey. Weaving physical comedy with flawless musicality, the players each embody the roles of Stripey’s father, an echidna, a goanna, birds and Toot the parrot to perfection, combining descriptive musical lines and harmony with effective and engaging characterisation.

Musically, composer Joseph Twist, has created a tapestry of sounds that tie in to the heartwarming nature of this story impeccably. From the slow, bending lines of the goanna, to the short staccato trills of Toot the parrot, each harmony and musical line echoes descriptively, the movement, disposition and relationship of each of these animals to Stripey.

Aside from common themes of belonging and identity embedded in the storyline, the show also manages to weave some educational elements into it’s narrative as a soundscape to Stripey’s adventure into the big city, as the soloists lead the audience through counter-rhythm clapping games. I would have loved to see more of this element incorporated into the show, as it seemed to come and go in a manner of seconds and the young audience were clearly soaking up the opportunity to be actively involved. The emotive quality of the music also does not go unnoticed by the young audience as they follow the atmosphere and mood created by the ensemble and are engaged with the characters for the show’s entirety.

Invisible Me is a wonderful way to introduce little people to the magic and emotion that can be created through classical music. Through engaging and interactive storytelling, the Southern Cross Soloists demonstrate not only wonderful technical skill and musicality but also a willingness and ability to transcend the role of ‘musician’ to ‘character’ in the telling of this heartwarming tale. Along with Actor/Dancer, Stacey McCallum, and a wonderful creative team, Invisible Me creates a wonderful opportunity for little people and ‘oldies’ alike to inject a little excitement and playfulness into a chilly winter morning!

This landmark cultural event has been presented every two years since the inaugural Festival in 1992 and continues to be at the leading edge of early childhood arts and learning. This year Out of the Box celebrates 20 years of nurturing children’s creativity and imagination.

2012 is the National Year of Reading and as an official partner of this initiative, QPAC has developed the entire Festival program around the arts and cultural literacy. This year’s festival will bring four children’s books to life as part of the performance program.

The centrepiece of Out of the Box is a new work based on The Flying Orchestra, a children’s book written and illustrated by Queensland author Clare McFadden, which will be presented as a world premiere at this year’s Festival.

Another program highlight is Me and My Shadow, 2011 Helpmann award winner for Best Presentation for Children. In the form of a visual poem, this spellbinding work from Patch Theatre is about a young girl who discovers a way to befriend her shadow.

The Out of the Box workshop program incorporates drama, dance, digital storytelling, circus and media. Children will have a chance to weave dreams, create virtual stories, design new 3D worlds, cook up a storm and build monsters.

The Festival also includes outside activities and welcomes Earth Visual and Physical Inc’s Dinosaur Petting Zoo and Polyglot Theatre’s We Built This City – a public construction site that calls upon energy and ingenuity to transform thousands of cardboard boxes into a new world.

“Every child is an artist; the challenge is to keep them so.”

Pablo Picasso


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