5 Min Read

Flying Bicycle Collective share their thoughts on creating children’s theatre: Dreams of a Lonely Planet

“Boy, our hero, yearns to escape. Out there, on a planet far away, he can finally be left alone. Follow him to the moon and go fishing for stars in this enchanting serenade for the young and young at heart. Hear stories from the blanket fort, told through dance, shadow puppetry and starry-eyed adventures.”

AWESOME International Arts Festival is well and truly underway in Perth, presenting a series of fun and intriguing performances for “bright young things.” Kicking off the festival’s program is Dreams of a Lonely Planet, by the Flying Bicycle Collective. We spoke with the show’s creators Estelle Brown and Izzy Leclezio to hear all about their colourful creation and their thoughts on creating children’s theatre.

Step us into the world of Dreams of a Lonely Planet, where are we and who are we with?

We (Estelle and Izzy) are the makers of Flying Bicycle Collective and our mission is to make contemporary dance performance for the young and young at heart. Our show tells the story of “Boy” and his journey to the Lonely Planet. “Moral Compass”, his wise and ethereal guide, transforms Boy’s bike so that it can fly, and together they journey through the galaxy to meet “Lamplighter” who lives alone on the Lonely Planet. This story is about finding a place to belong, embracing our big feelings and not being afraid of dreaming.

Our show takes inspiration from Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s “The Little Prince”, particularly the Lamplighter character whose entire existence revolves around caring for and loving his lamp.

What was the process like creating this work? 

So much fun and lots of hard work (in the best way possible)! We (Estelle & Izzy) first conceptualised this show 2 years ago and have since brought it to a team of 8 artists to bring it to life (a third performer, director, lighting designer, set and costume designer, composer, producer, publicist, stage manager). When making dance shows it often starts with mood boards, written words and movement exploration. From there we like to build scenes/ vignettes based on these feelings and play around with making a trajectory for the show. Collaborating closely with design, sound and puppetry in the early stages of this show was also key for us to bring a sense of magic to the story. We feel so lucky to have spent time in the studio letting our imaginations run free and connecting to our creative selves through a childlike lens.  

Dreams of a Lonely Planet. Photography by Minni Karamfiles.

What do you take into consideration when creating children’s theatre?

When we set out to create this show we were passionate about not “spoon-feeding” a message or narrative to young audiences. We believe that abstract storytelling can be an engaging challenge for children, allowing them space to imagine and interpret in their own unique ways. We are both trained in contemporary dance and saw possibility in how this abstract form could express emotions and characters kinaesthetically and without words, and maybe reach children who were less inclined to understand through text-based work. 

How have you mixed in different forms of storytelling, such as shadow puppetry, into the work?

We have been lucky to work with local puppeteer and director Yvan Karlsson, who has really helped elevate the shadow puppetry scenes in the show. He designed and built our shadow puppets and mentored us in puppetry skills. We use shadow puppetry in the show to tell story – shadow puppetry is pretty awesome because it is almost like an animation! Each puppet is a representation of a character, and through the puppets we tell key points in the narrative to help create footholds for kids to follow along with the more abstract dancing. 

Dreams of a Lonely Planet. Photography by Minni Karamfiles.

What brings you the most joy in this piece and what do you hope audiences will take from it?

The process of creating this show brought us so much joy. We feel so grateful to our team: it is a truly heart-warming experience to have other people believe in your work and put in so much effort to help your dreams become a reality.  

The staff at The Blue Room Theatre have also been incredibly supportive, and really given us the confidence and freedom to grow as emerging artists and makers. We pretty much had free reign to transform the performance space in any way we chose – along with our amazing team, we painted a huge galaxy mural on the walls, built a glorified blanket fort which doubles as a shadow puppetry projection screen and turned the space into our own little world.

Performing for young people is also so rewarding and we love the escape of performing in character. We hope that audiences come along and feel a range of emotions and that we can create a safe space for young people and adults alike to feel big feelings!

Dreams of a Lonely Planet is now on until Saturday October 1 at The Blueroom Theatre. You can read our review of the show here.