The fool, the cult and the tower

The fool, the cult and the tower

Perhaps the longest title we had – The fool, the cult and the tower – our RE in 1991. The theme was based on ‘cults’ using the imagery of tarot and circus and a parody of TV evangelists. My favourite bit of the whole design process was the stuffed cats on sticks, which the TV audience waved in adulation (pre-empting an Oprah-style event). The very talented Danielle Baseley (below right with Ram’s horned hat) created much of the imagery for the Principal cast costumes and the sets. She and our production crew (including the legendary Lara and Bell Frolchenko and the wonderful Judy Charnaud) pretty much hand-painted everything in sight. We prided ourselves on the fact our costume budget was about $10 per cast member e.g. Dan painted all the detail on the the fool’s shirt, so it cost next to nothing but was absolutely unique!

We always tried for an atypical ending in these performances – nearly everyone else ended with a huge cast tableau, so we always wanted to be different, and besides, a tableau never suited our content. This one didn’t quite come off – the ending included the fool’s parents bowling (lawn bowls) and painting (a fence) and the TV Evangelist/High Priestess and their crew standing in informal noisy huddles congratulating themselves on the fool’s entry to the tower at the end of the ‘show’. Just another  moment for the audience to think ‘What the …’

A hellish daydream

A hellish daydream

I don’t have any good photos from some of the earlier Rock Eisteddfods we did so have taken some screen grabs from a pretty dodgy quality DVD. I think you still get the gist of the performance. This one was called ‘A hellish daydream’ (1989) and featured a sped-up Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and an opening scene in black and white which turned into colour. Daniel Parkinson made the great glowing devil head.

It was our first foray into the use of scaffolding and from this moment our sets got bigger and bigger until we stopped at five metres high a few years later. This performance was really the beginning of a power production team of students who worked with me for years. Each performance was so different, depending on the interests and expertise of the students working on it.

You can also see the beginnings of the extremes of make up and hair that became a bit of a Cromer statement. This becomes more obvious as we move into the 90s.