It’s no easy task to drive from Adelaide to Perth, let alone do so with a portable aerial set and a Japanese Torii gate in tow. Adelaide-based creatives, Sarah Williams and Anthony Butler, survived this epic trip by means of a selection of Spotify playlists, regular pit stops, and plenty of photo-journalistic selfies to document their journey. Theirs was an expedition which began with uncertainty, over the closure of the Eyre Highway during the bush fires, and concluded in accomplishment as they received glowing reviews from the Perth media.
Williams and Butler co-founded their independent theatre company, The Gemini Collective, in 2017. They’ve produced the five-star rated children’s production Ivy + Bean the Musical and received the Best Youth Theatre award for their production of A Thousand Cranes. They’ve since reworked the latter, making it a portable and immersive theatre experience and, in keeping with the great outdoors theme, the dedicated duo have just returned from Perth Fringe World Festival having travelled approximately 5400 kilometres to present their work.
The success of their first two productions motivated them to clock up the kilometres, and as Williams explained, “We decided to tour the production in order to give the show, and our theatre company, more exposure. Even though we know the Adelaide Fringe is the largest in Australia, we had heard Perth Fringe was starting to get noticed, and there was a considerable hype about it. When we looked at available venues, we found that Perth Zoo had the most amazing amphitheatre surrounded by bamboo and a Japanese garden, so it was a perfect fit for our show.”
As partners in both life and in business, Williams and Butler juggle their theatre company with a household of five children, so it’s easy to see why youth theatre was a good fit for them. In 2019, these Geminis diversified their services and now offer adult dance classes in music theatre, jazz, and ballet, suggesting with considerable evidence that one is never too old to learn new skills.
Williams and Butler have each developed their love for the performing arts over many years. Their collective experience and commitment to the arts is reflected in the quality of the performances given by the youthful casts that they’ve nurtured.
Madeline Flapper, who was nominated for Best Female Young Performer in 2019, will lead the cast of A Thousand Cranes as Sadako Sasaki. She will be joined by Calin Diamond, Taylor Tran, Iman Saleh, and Arwen Diamond in the staging of this classic story.
“Working with The Gemini Collective has been a great experience, full of many memories and moments, learning experiences and opportunities, especially as a young performer”, Calin Diamond reflected. The bond between the cast is evident and it adds to the authenticity of their characters. “My highlight of the Perth season would have to be, how much of a family we became after a short period of time.”
The Gemini Collective will be calling the Adelaide Himeji Garden home for the next few weeks as they bump in and prepare for their opening on Saturday 15 February. The event will be a family friendly cultural experience combining theatre with Japanese food and crafts, all within a Japanese-themed garden.
A Thousand Cranes will run from 15 February to 1 March at the Adelaide Himeji Garden.