A journey to Flinders Island, from Laura Jones, Marketing & Partnerships Manager
This trip makes no business sense. To state the facts: it is both expensive and a logistical nightmare to take nine people and a performance set to remote Flinders Island. It takes a week of staff, performer and facilitator time to perform one show and deliver four workshops. It is also (in my personal experience as a nervous flyer) frankly terrifying to fly from northern Tasmanian town Bridport into the blue of Bass Strait in, essentially, a small tin can with wings. But finding myself in that situation, with the other transportation option having been an irregular non-passenger freight barge carrying cattle, the only thing to do was concentrate on the view. Thankfully, once the clear blue waters of Trousers Point and misty peaks of Mt. Strzelecki came into sight, the concerns of the ‘big island,’ and the scary mode of transport, slipped away with the wind. Still, how did this trip make sense?
At 430km from our home in Hobart, Flinders Island is a classic inaccessible island off an island off an island. To get our team of nine there, in October 2021, to perform our Tasmanian schools touring show Scaredy Cat and deliver our Shadow Play creative workshop, we needed to hire five charter flights; with the team converging there from all corners of Tasmania. In addition to carting the human resources on those five flights, the charter company we engaged delivered the set by flying it out bit by bit when they had room to slip it in the back of other flights. There goes the cat puppet, there goes the chair. Again, how did this trip make sense?
Some reason may be found in an outsized sense of impact. As always, we were welcomed to Flinders Island (population 897) with open arms. Everywhere we went, people knew that we were there with the puppets and remembered all the other times that Terrapin had visited Flinders. In a small place that feels a long way from the rest of the world, staggeringly beautiful but isolated, experiences of performance seem to loom large in the inhabitants’ memories: more than one person told us of drama teacher Cheryl Wheatley’s legendary show about her grandmother, presented nearly fifteen years earlier.
At Terrapin, in the office and on the road, we do bang on a lot about equity of access; how important it is for children to experience performance and creative learning no matter where they live, be it on one of our tours to the US or in remote regional Tasmania. On Flinders Island, still within the first year of my employment with the company, this was the first time I’d really felt the impact of that ethos playing out in front of me. These 100 island kids got to see a show which has since performed at the Sydney Opera House, right in their school gym. It was an experience of universal delight. On any sort of budgeting or scheduling spreadsheet this trip truly doesn’t make any sense, but the emotion of collective experience, the power of live storytelling: these too are facts.
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