- The Alchemist’s Jar is a major creative practice research and community engagement initiative for Creative and Performing Arts at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga
What will you find in The Alchemist’s Jar? It’s a story long forgotten, which is about to be reintroduced at the Charles Sturt University Riverina Playhouse in Wagga Wagga.
The Alchemist’s Jar is a unique event coordinated by Associate Professor Sam Bowker in the Charles Sturt University School of Social Work and Arts in collaboration with Wagga Wagga City Council, the Riverina Conservatorium of Music, Eastern Riverina Arts and the Booranga Writer’s Centre.
“The Alchemist’s Jar is a mesmerising concert inspired by medieval Egyptian shadow theatre called ‘khayal al-zill’ in Arabic and is based on the short story The Stone Jar by Riverina author Christopher Halburd, with original illustrations by artist Tracey Jones,” Professor Bowker said.
“It features beautiful shadow puppetry, combined with classical and contemporary live chamber music by the Assai Quartet of the Riverina Conservatorium of Music and the operatic voices of Melinda Bowker and Erin Brown.
“Through this concert we want to show how Wagga’s creative and performing arts are uniquely interconnected. This beautiful story was written by local writers, developed by our University’s researchers and refined by collaboration with theatre professionals and experienced musicians.”
Professor Bowker (pictured left with Melinda Bowker) explained that these rarely seen shadow puppets are exquisite and intricate, but a few scenes in The Alchemist’s Jar may cause nightmares for small children.
“You might be familiar with the ‘wayang kulit’ of Indonesia and Malaysia, but these shadow puppets are different as they are adapted from medieval Egyptian artworks now held in European museums, where they are too fragile to dance,” he said.
“By re-crafting these shadow puppets to imaginative new and classical music, we can tell original stories with ancient story-telling techniques.”
Classical guitarist Dr Harold Gretton is also excited to assist to bring The Alchemist’s Jar to life.
“It’s such an unusual and eclectic range of music, but the combination really works,” he said.
“We’re performing songs from the 18th Century through to 2023, including original pieces by the Assai Quartet – Brett Thompson will perform on flute, Kara Williams on bassoon, and Rhiannon Xeros on violin.”
The Alchemist’s Jar is a Green Beetle Company production for the Charles Sturt Riverina Playhouse (8 Cross Street, Wagga Wagga).
There will be three performances only of The Alchemist’s Jar - the world premiere at 7pm Friday 17 March 2023, a matinee at 11am on Saturday 18 March, and the finale at 7pm on Saturday 18 March 2023.
Tickets are $20 or $15 concession thanks to the support of Wagga City Council and can be purchased online at the Civic Theatre , and doors open 30 minutes before each show.
The Alchemist’s Jar is supported by Wagga Wagga City Council’s community events grant program and creative arts researchers at Charles Sturt University.
Explore the world of social