Just Like Clockwork: A Musical. Created by Canberra children with Tim and Nathalie Bevitt. Tuggeranong Arts Centre. Friday, June 22 at 6.30pm and Saturday, June 23 at 3pm. Tickets $12. trybooking.com/VSJV.
Curious genius Alberta Clausis Thompson Morowitz and her friend, snow leopard Morbid Redfrost find themselves in a decaying theme park. They're tasked by a clock named Kronos with searching the rides to find the ingredients necessary to fill a bottle full of the precious energy needed to restore the place. Among those unusual items are a unicorn's fart and pizza tears. Along the way they meet such characters as a dinosaur with a moustache and jumping jellybeans.
That's only some of what happens in Just Like Clockwork: A Musical, created by a group of Canberra children aged from seven to 13 over the past six months at Tuggeranong Arts Centre. What makes this musical special is that the children, under the direction of Tim and Nathalie Bevitt, have built the show - story, script, and score - from scratch, before the performances they will soon be presenting.
Tuggeranong Arts Centre's chief executive officer Rauny Worm says, "This is the first time we've tried this sort of program."
Twenty three children, most of whom became involved after a callout to schools and community service organisations, are involved.
"We wanted to attract kids that have not done this sort of work before," she says. They kept the cost down - less than $400 per child - to make it more accessible.
Apart from stipulating that the arts centre's annual theme for 2018, "entropy", be used, the children were left to work with the Bevitts to develop the show how they wanted.
They also collaborated with a professional set designer and composer who took their ideas for scenery and songs and made them work. And they will be performing it with the help of a professional stage crew.
Tim Bevitt says, "This has been a very challenging project for them."
Getting so many people to work together on one project is difficult, especially when they weren't meeting on a regular basis, but the Bevitts always insisted that "all ideas are important" and could ignite creative sparks even if they weren't used themselves. They encouraged all the children to contribute during the lengthy creative process and helped them to fashion a coherent story with songs. Despite the long period of creation, only one child dropped out.
Worm says she's not sure yet if the program will be run again or if so, how often and on what scale.
"We'll evaluate it and see what we can do."
Tim Bevitt says, "Nathalie and I run a business, Mr Tim Enterprises. We do workshops in schools and holiday programs."
Normally it's a briefer and more intense process - four or five days to create a shorter and much less ambitious show - but here it began in the January school holidays and continued with two more school holiday intensive sessions and a semester of Saturday morning workshops to create the work before rehearsals began.
Nathalie Bevitt says, "The story was so good and we were interested in the theme of 'entropy.'"
It seemed a complex idea for adults, much less children, to grasp, much less turn into a musical, but working together, that's just what the group did.
"When children are given opportunities they can come up with so many rich, wonderful creations," she says.
Tim Bevitt says, "We're advocates for the capabilities of children."
He says they understand things in their own way and are capable of thinking outside the box. Just Like Clockwork is an example of what they can create when given the chance and the resources.