The natural world and migration come together in harmony for Slingsby Theatre Company’s new musical theatre production Songs for Those Who’ve Come Across the Seas, says co-creator and performer Cameron Goodall.
Borrowing its name from a line in the Australian national anthem, the show is a collaborative creation from Cameron Goodall, Quincy Grant, Andy Packer, Gareth Chin and Zindzi Okenyo, with design and lighting from Ailsa Paterson and Geoff Cobham. It explores the idea of finding strength in diversity with the use of projected imagery and an original song cycle written by Grant and Goodall.
“This one for me is like imagine if David Attenborough wrote an album with Pink Floyd and then it was performed live,” says Goodall, who will also perform in the piece. “So it’s kind of like, in part, a nature documentary which has been turned into a song cycle with a band.”
Telling the story of how various animals and plants come to live together on an isolated volcanic island, Songs for Those Who’ve Come Across the Seas is a symbol of our own world and its political complexities. In true Slingsby style, the show is written for all ages despite the potentially complex ideas surrounding migration.
“Their shows are really considered,” Goodall says of Slingsby’s work. “They’re challenging but in a way that’s very generous and this show’s definitely like that as well. We’ve been doing a lot of research and talking a lot about different human experiences of migration, and then finding ways to kind of interpret those and kind of adapt them into stories of migration of various plants and animals.
“It’s a sort of anthropomorphic thing to be doing to go, ‘Let’s look at a particular migrant experience and then take elements of that and talk about that being like an albatross making a six month pilgrimage across a vast ocean in order to be reunited with its long lost mate.’”
In saying that, Goodall says the show doesn’t seek to be overtly political and operates on multiple levels so audiences of all ages and backgrounds have something to take from it.
“We do a lot of the work and research and that stuff is important to make the show really worthwhile for us,” Goodall says. “But then in the end we present a show that may not seem as heavy as that because all the work is sitting underneath it like a kind of iceberg. The audience will be experiencing the show for its beauty and its wonder and it will be underpinned by all this work.”
The collaborative team used the success of their 2013 show, You, Me and the Bloody Sea, as a mould for the new production which also sees a combination of visual elements and song to tell its story.
“The active imagination is sort of central to our show in the sense you can take all of these bits of information, these scientific documents about plants and animals or a place, and give rise to a whole story about how these creatures actually got there,” Goodall says. “Not a scientific explanation as such but a human story-based one.”
Ultimately Goodall says audiences should expect to reflect on the place that they live in and their ideas about what home is.
“In a way this show is about perspective,” Goodall says. “Whether that perspective is cosmological, whether you can zoom out that far, or whether it’s just about looking at the country that you live in, it’s about finding a way to think about how you fit into things and having an appreciation about how diversity in its many forms makes us as a community better off.”
Songs For Those Who’ve Come Across The Seas
June 20 until June 21
Header image: Artwork from Songs for Those Who’ve Come Across the Seas (supplied)