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Australia takes centre stage at IPAY 2013

Mar 01, 2013

A girl who makes friends with her shadow, a man who embarks on a journey with a bird companion and the classic tale of a boy made of wood who longs to be real; these engaging performances from three South Australian youth performing arts companies were part of Australia’s significant representation at IPAY 2013.

The International Performing Arts for Youth Showcase (IPAY) supports performing arts organisations to bring theatre to young audiences.  The annual invitation only showcase event was held this year in Philadelphia between January 4th – 7th and presented 19 works from five countries. Of the seven Australian companies invited to present, three were from South Australia, demonstrating a high level of achievement from the long standing South Australian tradition in the youth arts sector.

Patch Theatre CompanySlingsby and Windmill Theatre were given the opportunity to present before an audience of international presenters with the hope of securing a North American tour of their work. They were not disappointed.

Patch Theatre showcased the Helpmann Award- winning production, Me and My Shadow, a beautiful story of a young girl who finds a way to befriend her shadow. Exploring both the frustrations and joys that can be found in friendship, Me and My Shadow is fanciful production guaranteed to ignite children’s imaginations. Of the production, Patch Theatre’s Artistic Director Dave Brown comments, ‘It means a great deal that the company’s artistic excellence and innovation are being acknowledged amongst our peers at an international level. We have had considerable interest in touring and a tour to the US looks likely to begin with a two week season at the New Victory in New York in October this year.’

With Slingsby having attended IPAY over the last three years, they are no stranger to the process. This time around they presented a ten minute excerpt of the award- winning production Man Covets Bird, a touching story of a boy who wakes to find he has grown into a man and no one recognizes him.  Befriending a bird outside his window that cannot fly, the two embark on a journey together to the big city to make a life for themselves.

In 2014 Man Covets Bird will tour Scotland and the UK, with discussions now underway for a 2015 tour of North America. Slingsby’s Artistic Director Andy Packer comments, ‘It is particularly gratifying to see South Australian work being celebrated as work of the highest quality and to be contributing by exposing young audiences in North America to the inspiring and uplifting power of live theatre.’

Presenting a fifteen minute Spotlight pitch of the Carlo Collodi classic Pinocchio, Windmill secured a season in the New Victory Theatre on New York’s Broadway for 2014. With several expressions of interest from other major venues around the USA and Canada, Windmill’s Artistic Director, Rosemary Myers comments, ‘The success of the IPAY conference, combined with our growing reputation as producers of quality work, has led us to lengthy and exciting tours to the USA and Canada,’ she elaborates, ‘These successes also indicate how wide Windmill’s reach is becoming, not only to Australian children and their families, but to an ever-expanding international audience.’

Pinocchio is a contemporary adaptation of the classic tale of a man who longs for a son so he carves one out of wood. However this boy longs for a life of celebrity and wild ways far outside the reach of what his father can provide so he runs away. Boldly retold as a witty and gothic rendition, Pinocchio reinvents the age-old adage, be careful what you wish for.

With several tours on the horizon, the companies’ success at IPAY means audiences across North America will be seeing more great storytelling from Australia.