Umbrella Theatre Does Crack Theatre Festival

Crack Theatre Festival is part of the experimental arts program, This Is Not Art (TINA) held in Newcastle over  the October long weekend every year.

I’ve always loved this festival for its stimulating mix of performance, installations, workshops, readings and panel discussions. The Crack component is led by Artistic Directors (and artists in their own rights) Jane Grimley & Gareth Hart.

This year Umbrella Theatre presented new work in Hunter Street Mall, and the zine fair in King Street car park. Our new puppet has been under construction for several weeks, with the talented team of Umbrella makers carving foam, gluing leather and cutting piping to custom build him from scratch.

I collated material from the ‘old mate’ stories of friends and families, as well as my own experiences talking with those itinerant folk that you meet on the road. The results were a humorous blend of truth and fiction, the kind that you receive intertwined when the old mates of this world reminisce about their past – all based on real stories from real encounters.

The TINA program says:

“Everbody knows Old Mate. He is always on the corner, always after a ciggie, always eager for a yarn. Even his insults feel familiar. Old Mate is a local puppet who has seen the world turn, and will share his stories with you. Say hello, you might learn something.”

The show was a great hit with the bemused and amused passers by all stopping for a chat, a laugh and a kiss.

Some audience feedback included;

“Its like he’s channelling my Dad!”

“You’re great, you’re amazing, we love you!”

“Its so bizarre, this is exactly like my father”

And one young fella- “Do you own an Australasian Taipan?”

It was great to spend a sunny long weekend in Newie chatting to the locals and exploring new material.
Old Mate was also very pleased, not only would be people on the street stop to listen to him yabber on, he even got invited to do a stand up set in the cabaret show, Short Quirks!


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