Book launch at the Drama Victoria Jumpstart conference

We are excited to launch our new book Strolling Players’ Spirit Lives On: The Life of Joan & Betty Rayner at the Drama Victoria Jumpstart conference

In every profession there are great innovators and when it comes to producing theatre for young people, the Rayner sisters certainly fit that description. Their unwavering commitment to bringing theatre to children across Australia (and throughout the world) for six decades, from the 1930s to the 1990s is an important chapter in Australian theatre history. They and their company (the Australian Children’s Theatre) are regarded by many as being pioneers in the field of theatre for young people in Australia.

The book to be launched at Jumpstart documents the extraordinary lives of the Rayner sisters through text and wonderful archival photographs. It will be launched by members of the Australian Children’s Theatre Foundation.

Stop by Jumpstart at for morning tea (10:30am) on Saturday 19 March to celebrate with the Australian Children’s Theatre Foundation and help launch it into the world!

Drama Victoria Jumpstart
Saturday 19 March 2016
Registration: 8:30 – 9:00am
Workshop Sessions: 10:00am – 3:00pm
Venue: Malthouse Theatre
113 Sturt Street Southbank VIC 3006

Strolling Players' Spirit Lives On: The Life of Joan & Betty Rayner

The ACTF is pleased to reveal its new publication Strolling Players' Spirit Lives On, detailing the foundations' beginnings and the life of founders Joan and Betty Rayner. Written by David Weil and compiled by Weil and Rod Parnell, the hardcover book features the history and stunning photography from when it all began.

Stay tuned for updates on where you can grab a copy of this beautiful book!

2016 Joan & Betty Rayner Commission: Balance by Transience (Dave Jones)

Balance by Transience. Photo by Dave Jones 2015

Balance by Transience. Photo by Dave Jones 2015

Balance is a new work with a strong environmental message that gets children actively involved in the exploration of sustainability, recycling and alternative power generation. Part game, part play, with a whimsical but compelling narrative this interactive performance is an exciting blend of shadow puppetry, electronics, animation and live theatre, with a strong focus on active participation. Balance gives the audience a hands on experience and a chance to step up and save the world.

The centrepiece of the show is a spectacular kinetic sculpture of the island where the story is set, a mechanical clockwork island complete with clockwork homes, a clockwork jungle and a handful of happy clockwork islanders. As the story begins the new moon rises out of the ocean into the perfect night sky like it has so many times before. But on this particular occasion (in a cataclysmic event that begins the story proper) it snags the summit of the island and wrenches it half way out of the ocean, wreaking havoc upon the islanders and disconnecting it from the power grid that keeps it going.  The islanders now find themselves, in darkness, on a lifeless island leaning dangerously to one side.

In the absence of external power, the audience must now step in to help the islanders find alternative means to get their island back on track, dislodge the moon and get back into balance. From here on in the children will literally be generating the energy for anything that happens on the island (via a series of treadmills and hand cranks). The narrator slowly draws the audience into the islanders’ world, raising important questions and bringing attention to new events as they come to light. As the story progresses, and the stakes are raised, more and more elements are brought into play. It becomes a complicated juggling act and the children will need to find the most efficient path to bring the island back to life.  

Congratulations Dave Jones!

View Dave's website for performance and behind the scenes images from Balance