At first glance the world of Forest appears familiar. Lush green fields cover the slopes of three interconnected mountains. Tiny puppet cows are grazing contentedly, the wind catches the leaves on the trees, the birds are singing.
In the distance propelled by a skeleton figure is an aeroplane. It too is a familiar sight. It comes closer and closer. The plane collides with the mountains and this is the cataclysmic act that signals the end to the familiar. The whole world turns upside down.
The gentle grass peels back from the earth to reveal an underlying devastation. All the familiar elements of our ordinary world disappear—plane, trees, cows—and we are transported to a new and entirely imaginary world.
Now it is a primordial landscape and it gives birth to a number of giant puppet creatures. An egg-like organism rolls out of a shallow depression at the centre of the hills. A maggoty cocoon plops to the ground and tentatively explores. A colourful shell spirals aimlessly. A long, thin gliding section of the mountain cracks off, like a piece of flint or shale, like bark from a tree. A sinister black spidery creature bursts from the soil.
These beautiful, fragile creatures enter the next part of their evolutionary phase. Like the caterpillar turning into the butterfly, each of the creatures split open to reveal a new form. From one comes a dough-like precursor to the human being, from another a demented chicken, from yet another comes a worm with suckers.
Forest in the Night is a startling and original work that challenges the traditional perceptions of puppetry. Forest uses no strings, no black lights, no booth. Instead the installation is simultaneously puppets, props, set and stage. It is a giant ballet in which the principal dancers are amoebas, worms, primitive crustaceans and a forest of gently waving coral.
National Theatre of Korea, Seoul, 2009
31st Session of the Theatre of Nations Festival, Nanjing, China, 2008
Welttheater Der Strabe, Schwerte Germany 2005
Q-Fest, outback Western Australia 2004
International Open-air Arts Festival, Korea 2004
Karavan Festival, Netherlands 2004
Bath Puppet Festival, UK 2002
Woodford Folk Festival 2001
Sydney Olympics, 2000
Australian Performing Arts Market, 2000
Melbourne International Arts Festival, 1999 (Commissioned)
Collaborators/Performers: Megan Cameron, Justin Holland, Nick Barlow, Rebecca Rutter, Matthew Fowler, Suzanna Kalk, Daniele Poidomani, Dori Dragon Bicchierai, Angie Orrego, Nick Wilson, Aldous and Erin