Did we mention we’re off to Australia next month? Yep, 26 of the Paraorchestra and Friends team are flying our immersive, orchestra-dance clash, The Nature of Why, down under to Perth Festival for its Australian premiere. The show was originally commissioned by Unlimited and premiered at Mayfest, Bristol in 2018, we are very proud to share the show with an international audience.

Perth Festival is in its 66th year, celebrating work from Western Australia, alongside some hugely talented performers from across the globe. With artists like Orbital, Silkroad Ensemble and Christine and Queens on the bill, we’re in good company.

Our Company Co-ordinator, Nicci, has been undertaking the gargantuan task of making this all happen. With just two weeks until we leave, and after months of planning, we THINK we’re nearly ready to go:

What have been the challenges of arranging this trip?
The challenges of arranging an international trip with such a large group of people are vast and varied! We’re not exaggerating when we say we have spent months arranging insurance, VISA’s and travel. Typically, we have more to coordinate than a traditional performance company in order to accommodate various access requirements – including transfers, planes, accommodation, rehearsal studios, stage plans, dressing rooms, backstage areas, catering, parking, post-show events, and local dining facilities.

It’s important for us to ensure that everything is not only just accessible but also safe, comfortable and hopefully meaning that everyone can carry on with their day and remained focused on the performance instead of concerned about how to get from their dressing room to the stage via an inaccessible route, for example.

How many people are going?
The Nature of Why is made up of a team of 26 this includes performers, directors, production crew, assistants and the producing team. It is taking 14 different flights to get everyone to Perth, including 2 internal flights to get our Choreographer and Co-director, Caroline Bowditch, and our Production Manager to Perth from Melbourne.
The main group flight is direct and almost 18 hours long! (Personally, I need to find a new TV series to binge the whole time … and then another for the way back.)

How many instruments are you travelling with?
We are flying with …
x1 Clarinet
x1 Bass Clarinet
x1 Viola
x1 Electro Harp

Wooden instruments can often suffer in increased temperatures if placed in the hold and can sometimes split so we are hiring a guitar, cello and double bass from local Perth companies. We are also freighting a huge suitcase of costumes, the music scores and then another box of special microphones that we are unable to hire in Perth.

Do any instruments need their own seat? 
We are currently battling airlines to allow us to have a ‘Ms A Harp’ on our group flight. We would like to avoid putting this fragile instrument in the hold at all costs!

What is everyone looking forward to the most?
We’ve been invited to attend a traditional ‘Welcome to Noongar country’ by an indigenous elder, which I know the whole company will be keen to attend. After recently hearing about the current heatwave in Australia I am equal parts excited and nervous about getting in some Vitamin D whilst exploring the area. I know that some of the team are planning a trip to Rottnest Island to check out the Quokka.

Cute, small furry animal, big brown nose, small ears

Are you hoping to watch anything else whilst you are there, if so, what?
A wonderful bonus of international touring is being able to watch local artists in new countries, so we’re really looking forward to catching some local and regional work! At first look the trailer for Kwongkan looks great so hopefully we can catch that. Worktable also looks really intriguing.

This is the beginning of a very ambitious and exciting year, although international touring can be complicated it’s also giving us a great platform for our work and the development of the organisation as a whole – which is super exciting!