The brave and adventurous of all ages will love Waves. Discover a tall tale of a girl at sea, in this enchanting evening of theatre.
We know it as the “butterfly stroke” but to Elizabeth Moncello growing up on Australia’s Gabo Island in the 1930s it was the “dolphin”.
So reveals Alice Mary Cooper, who with highly expressive storytelling brings us the unofficial history of how Liz invented the butterfly/dolphin with the help of fish, penguins and other aquatic friends.
Waves is about a lonely girl finding the courage to do something astonishing. It is funny, moving, and equally absorbing for children and adults.
Presented in association with Auckland Arts Festival.
Another premiere for Waves – this time in New Zealand. On this trip, you play the iconic beachside communities of Piha and Otaki. Where’s the most interesting and/or challenging place you have staged Waves?
The Isle of Coll. It’s a beautiful little remote island of about 200 inhabitants off the west coast of Scotland. It required some serious logistics to get there with our stuff and we had to schedule a rest day after the show day, because the ferries were on a winter timetable and only ran three times a week. Not that it was tough having a rest day on Coll. It’s a beautiful place and I could have stayed much longer.
Will you take a dip beforehand? Reading your blog it appears as if swimming is actually part of your “training” regime forWaves.
I hope to! I always try to fit in a dip wherever I perform. It’s often a bit tricky on tour as you are frequently in places for less than a day but certainly if I’m near a beach or a pool [or within a reasonable detour-able distance] I will work out a way of getting there.
Is the technique behind land swimming, similar to learning to play air guitar?
I had never thought of that before but, yes, I imagine it is in the way that both require you to take a big leap of imagination and engage fully with the missing element (guitar or water in this case). I say this having never actually played air guitar before.
Has the show evolved over time and if so in what way?
Yes in lots of ways, though the main story itself hasn’t changed much. The first shows of Waves were in a tent at a storytelling festival and then in a tiny attic as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. Neither of these venues had sound or lighting equipment – just a single bulb above a small playing space – so, technically it had to be very lo-fi- just me, a cricket ball and a chair. Since then, I have had the opportunity to perform in equipped venues, and thus been able to add sound and lighting, which add new textures to the show. Danny Krass has made a beautiful soundtrack that really helps tell the story in clearer, more interesting ways and allows me to play more too. Bringing a director, Gill Robertson, on board has made everything more precise – the movement, the characters, the story, the rhythm. Playing in lots of different spaces, in front of many different audiences over the past few years – some young, some older, some mixed – has naturally led me to change my performance. For example, I find when there are more children in the audience and they are laughing a lot, I tend to extend moments or looks, for example when I become a fish, because I can see they are enjoying it and I am enjoying seeing them enjoy it. This is, in some way the joy of being alone on stage, in that you can be open to adapting your performance for the people who are in front of you.
Is there really a swimming pool called Fanny Durack?
Yes there is and it’s great. It’s an outdoor pool in the middle of a park in Sydney, close to where I used to live. It’s also near one called The Annette Kellerman – another idol of mine!
How many productions do you normally have on the go?
Usually two. I’m often thinking about another one or two but they are usually in the “dream stage” and a long way off any kind of production. It’s bit of a slow burn for me, making a show.
Waves plays the New Zealand Festival (26 Feb-20 March 2015), festival.co.nz, and Auckland Arts Festival (2-20 March 2015), aucklandfestival.co.nz.
– Sunday Star Times