Winton’s love letter to WA’s magical marine world on stage for the holidays

24 May, 2023

Adapted by Peta Murray from the book by Tim Winton

The astonishing beauty of the Western Australian coastline shimmers to life in Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s acclaimed production of Blueback at the Claremont Showground for the winter school holidays from July 1.

Set on an imaginary stretch of sea, sand, and surf somewhere on WA’s stunning coastline, Tim Winton’s beloved story, adapted by award-winning playwright Peta Murray, takes us on an extraordinary journey into the heart of the state’s beautiful, precious, and endangered marine landscape, and what it means to belong, to love, to preserve, and to fight for the world you live in and those you share it with.

Through the magic of puppetry, audiences are transported into the world of Abel Jackson, a young boy who forms a deep respect for the sea, its teeming marine life and a lifelong friendship with a giant groper he calls Blueback.

The production, directed by Philip Mitchell (The One Who Planted Trees, Beanstalk), recreates a vivid underwater garden with exquisitely crafted puppets depicting fish, crabs, eels, abalone, coral and the ‘king’ of the reef, the majestic and playful Blueback himself. When this precious world is threatened by change and development, Abel must find the courage to stand up for what he believes and what makes life worth living.

Artistic Director of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Philip Mitchell said that that the production was a visual tribute to WA’s remarkable marine landscape, internationally renowned for its breathtaking beauty, biodiversity, and unique ecosystems.

“Blueback is a ‘love letter’ to our unique natural world and an achingly beautiful story about our connection to environment and to each other, told with humour and tenderness. It captures the mystery and majesty of the sea and the wonder of a boy on the cusp of becoming a man, prepared to defend the world he lives in and loves,” he said.

Blueback stands as a timeless piece, its message is just as relevant today as it was when Winton wrote it many years ago. Blueback aims to foster a deep connection and appreciation for our marine environment, urging audiences to cherish and safeguard this invaluable resource for future generations,” he said.

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre is thrilled to welcome performer Anna Lindstedt who is making her debut with the company, and welcomes back Shaun Johnston (Harebrain). Anna and Shaun have begun a huge 12-week tour of regional WA schools before returning to the city for the July School Holiday season (and then getting back out on the road again). The tour is supported by Healthway, Horizon Power, Stan Perron Charitable Foundation and the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

The season runs from Saturday July 1 until July 15 at the Ellie Eaton Theatre, Gate 1 at Claremont Showground. Blueback is a story for all ages, and perfect for ages 5+. The 50-minute shows are scheduled daily at 10am and 1pm, with twilight shows at 6.30pm on July 7 and 14.

Tickets for Blueback are available here

Tim Winton
One of Australia’s most celebrated authors, Tim Winton was raised in Albany, a beachside town 400km South of Perth. He draws much of his inspiration from the natural coastal environments of Western Australia and they are often the settings of his books. He is a strong advocate for environmental conservation and has contributed to campaigns to protect Ningaloo Reef and Moreton Bay, among others. Winton is former member of the Board of Management of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre and remains connected to the company. His works, The Deep and The Bugalugs Bum Thief are popular and admired productions in the company’s repertoire.

Peta Murray
Murray is an award-winning Australian playwright, writer, dramaturge and teacher. She has won AWGIE awards for her plays, Spitting Chips and The Keys to the Animal Room, and Blueback, and, the Victorian Premier’s Award for Drama for Salt. Murray is currently Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow at RMIT Melbourne.

Blueback Production Credits
Director Philip Mitchell
Book Author Tim Winton
Adapting Writer Peta Murray
Designer Hanna Parssinen
Composer Don Hopkins
Performers Anna Lindstedt and Shaun Johnston
Production Manager Megan Fitzgerald

Acknowledgement of Country

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre respectfully acknowledges the Whadjuk Noongar people as the traditional owners and custodians of the unceded land on which we work. As we tour our work across these vast lands, we pay our respect to all First Nations elders, past and present. We celebrate their continuing connection and contribution to culture, country and community, and thank all First Nations peoples for their wisdom in caring for the land, the sky, the rivers and the sea.