The sound most little boys love to hear. The sound of Dinosaurs, the sound of a hungry, forty-foot-long T-rex coming towards you with its mouth wide open in anticipation of eating your shiny, little ass and using your spine as a toothpick as he swallows.
The sound of a thousand kids stepping over the top of each other with tears running out of their eyes and snot pouring out of their noses as they come face to face with one of the most feared of the dinosaur species, the Allosaurus.
Some kids think of dinosaurs like Barney (see previous post), the giant, purple, fluff ball that sings to your kids with wonderful tunes such as ‘I love you, you love me’, ‘Me and my teddy’ and ‘What makes a flower so pretty?’ Not exactly the stuff of nightmares right?
ERTH VISUAL AND PHYSICAL INC.
The only way to describe Erth, is a company that provides some of the most eye popping, creative giant puppetry, the world has ever seen. Erth is an awe-inspiring company who constantly delight our visual senses and take us into worlds you’ve never believe existed.
I had the pleasure of working with Erth as a Presenter and puppeteer for their dinosaur shows. These shows are a mixture of fantasy, comedy, education and entertainment.
The shows take you on a vivid, and often scary ride through the life of various dinosaurs (with a focus on Aussies)
With giant, inflatable sets of Jurassic plants and trees, the eerily dark lighting and straw bales set up as the stage, you know something special is about to happen.
Coming from a background in traditional children’s shows with all the coloured fur, smiling suit characters and cheesy presenters who encourage the kids to love one another after flashing those pearly white teeth and HUGE smiles (I’ve never been able to get rid of mine), Erth was a whole new ball game.
It is made up of some of the most unique, interesting and creative geniuses I have ever met. This was a world of circus performers, travelling freak show stars, the pierced/tattooed from head to toe, the displaced, the outcasts and the talented misfits from around Australia. I loved it.
On first glance, I probably didn’t fit in. I was the blonde, blue eyed more ordinary looking of the crew, but I hadn’t felt more at home in a long time. I loved it.
The shows always started by getting the kids up to tell a dinosaur joke. This would usually end up with kids standing in the spotlight, saying nothing, while their parents looked on and shouted and clapped with pride.
Most of the time there would be a few kids come up and just say ‘poo’ or ‘bum’ or ‘fart’ which NEVER got old (I know, Miss maturity right here)
The shows always started with baby dinosaurs ‘Awwwwwww’
It was incredible how many of the parents would ask after the show ‘Are they real’ and actually mean it. ‘Hey, adults are allowed to lose their shit around dinosaurs too’ !
The baby Dryosaurs were adorable with their big eyes that moved and little chirps that came from their beaks. As a puppeteer, you have to be great at moving the mouth while the chirping was played through an Ipod (sorry if you believed they were real too)They also had a metal rod which each puppeteer used to move the head and eyes.
Each time a new dinosaur entered the stage, you would be taken into a whole new world.
I loved that the shows were based on real dinosaurs and every effort was taken by the designers to replicate what scientists believe they would have looked like.Many months of research and preparation goes in to learning about each dinosaur and how it walked, moved, made noise, reacted to noise.
Scott Wright (Artistic Director) ensured every care was taken in recreating something incredibly life like. Sometimes during the shows, I’d almost forget they were only puppets as performers gave them all characters and also spent a great deal of time in workshops, learning how to manoeuvre each one.
Some of the larger dinosaurs required two performers to operate. The puppeteers were often not hidden from view but you would always forget they were there as the puppets were brought to life.
Each dinosaur would have their own little segment, some of them would be flying dinosaurs that would fly out over the audience, others would come out in herds.
When it came time for audience participation, there was always wild applause and laughing at some poor bugger’s embarrassment and misery. As the presenter, it was important to embarrass the most unlikely of audience of members and ensure the kids could point and laugh at adult silliness.
The finale was always the largest of the dinosaurs … The Allosaur or the T-Rex. This was the moment kids lived for. They lived and loved to be absolutely scared senseless.
As the Allosaur entered the stage, you could hear the roar’s, you could feel the thump of each step he made.
As he ran out to the audience, you could see a wave of kids running backwards, not looking where they were going… screaming in fear, clambering over the top of each other to get to the safety of their parent’s arms. You could see kids shaking violently and almost vomiting with fear. What made it even funnier was that the parents were usually in the foetal position, with tears rolling down their faces from laughter. It was the BEST sight to see.
If I’m completely honest, doing these shows was the only time I’ve ever felt like a rock star ! It was, of course, all about the dinosaurs but it felt fantastic to be part of shows that kids would remember forever (even if it mean night sweats and bed wetting memories)
Erth is now doing shows all over the world, including The West End, NYC and London. The Dinosaur Petting Zoo is performed at some of the world’s most prestigious Museums and Theatres.
If your kids love dinosaurs, this is the best show you’ll ever see.
If you don’t want the kiddies to shit their pants ….. Take nappies !
You have been warned.
Here are some useful links to some great performers and companies that I met through Erth. They are shows well worth going to see !