I first came to Bendigo Discovery Centre as part of a tiny independent theatre duo, Teacup Tumble. We had a touring show called It’s Not Circus, It’s Science which we’d made in Melbourne, performed in a village festival in NSW and were ready to take on the road. ‘Disco’ took a punt on us and we performed at the centre and toured our show to schools in the region.
Our show was utterly ridiculous. My character made stupid jokes about quarks, wore fake nerd glasses and seriously irritated her onstage colleague. The show also had the “Aha!” factor. We performed circus tricks to demonstrate the rules of physics – and the kids loved it.
Until I had performed this show, I don’t think I understood what science engagement could be. How funny it could be. What a group of 250 cheering children engaging with science could look like.
The CEO of the Bendigo Trust dropped into our show ‘for five minutes’ then stayed for the whole show and congratulated us afterwards. We were thrilled.
After that Disco and Teacup Tumble made friends. Disco supported us to tour regional schools the following year, where we performed for hundreds of kids in tiny country schools. The year after that, Disco partnered with us to write a grant submission, which was successful. The grant enabled us to make another show, working with kids from Bendigo South East College. This was a class of kids with learning issues who struggled with simple maths concepts. They helped us come up with some of they key ideas for the show and then helped with the production elements of our performance.
This new show toured the region, to hundreds of children. I have two main memories of that tour. I remember performing in a small country school, where there were less than 30 kids. The staff were just so grateful to have an affordable, high quality incursion to the school – which (considering that the families split the costs) is usually impossible.
I also remember the endlessly friendly generosity of the Bendigo Discovery Centre. The use of the auditorium for rehearsals meant we had a home base throughout the development and tour (and somewhere to make cups of tea). As an independent artist who makes theatre in rent-by-the-hour rehearsal spaces or even in my loungeroom, I am so grateful for the support the Bendigo Discovery Centre offered us.
I could tell our shows were valued in the Bendigo community, from the gorgeous emails from kids, the thanks from the teachers, and the roars of laughter while we performed.
Partnering with artists is only one of the many ways Bendigo Discovery Centre works with its community, but it’s the one I have seen first-hand. I hope such partnerships can continue for years to come.
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