Monsters roam the streets at Woodford Folk Festival each year, scaring festival goers and generally wreaking havoc as street theatre performers tend to do.
A one-eyed, friendly giant called Softie wanders around eating anything in sight; particularly children. Alongside him the ten heads of Spike, the three-horned green monster, roam in every direction and towering over the crowd is Bob – big, black and very hairy.
The monsters were drawn by children from Woodford and Mooloolaba State Schools as part of the 2013 Woodford Folk Festival’s theme, ‘Facing Your Fears Away’.
The children’s drawings were selected from over 300 entries and converted into the six metre tall monster puppets by the Knee High Puppet Company.
Major Projects Producer for Woodford Folk Festival, Kate McDonald says that the monsters were the end product of a large scale community arts project that provided an opportunity for local school students to connect with professional artists.
“It was a wonderful process for the students to get to work with an artist and have their drawing validated into something that was seen as having great artistic credibility,” she says.
“They gave feedback to the puppet makers along the way to make sure that the artists were staying true to their drawing. It was a very empowering process for them.”
Three people were needed to operate the ten heads of Spike, which Kate says is the most challenging of the three puppets.
“The puppet maker, who is highly experienced having been doing this for over ten years, says he has never made a puppet quite as complicated as a ten-headed one,” she says.
The performers behind Spike, Softie and Bob were graduating theatre students from the Queensland University of Technology’s Creative Industries Faculty. Kate says the project has maintained this strong University partnership, with students who performed at the 2013 Festival returning again this year.
“It was a great learning opportunity for those [university] students to be able to perform on the streets of one of Australia’s largest festivals. They all enjoyed it a lot and came back again,” she says.
The monsters represent the concept of befriending your inner fears and were a chance for the imaginations of the children, artists and performers involved to truly run wild.
Woodford Folk Festival is a week-long celebration of music, art, dance, theatre and comedy held annually over the Christmas and New Year period. More than 120,000 Woodfordians attend the festival each year and (from personal experience) return home happy, peaceful and find readjusting to the real world extremely difficult.