EVERYBODY from Meryl Tankard to Wendy Whiteley seemed to be on hand as actors, directors, designers, stage managers, composers and writers crowded into the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney on Sunday (September 8) to mark 30 years since Artist Kim Carpenter founded his distinctive enterprise, Theatre of Image.
The company is well-known in Canberra, having appeared in 1990 for the National Festival of Australian Theatre at the National Gallery of Australia, the “Swimming in light: The world of Lloyd Rees” at the Canberra Theatre Centre in 2015 , and “Monkey: Journey to the West” in 2010 and for “Little Beauty”, 2018.
Those who hadn’t heard the news beforehand were dismayed to hear that Carpenter and producer/executive director, Neil Hunt, are bringing the curtain down on the company which, since first appearing at Brisbane’s bicentennial event in 1988 with “The Sky Wizard”, had brought top-class visual theatre to a generation of children, and quite a few adults, too.
The celebration and farewell event, which included the release of a 100 page commemorative book, was opened by Amanda Morris the executive director at NIDA, where “serial innovator” Carpenter had studied from the age of 17.
Former vice-chancellor at Macquarie University and the chair of Theatre of Image, Prof Di Yerbury, said Carpenter had been the first person in Australia to integrate film with theatre and reminded the audience that in 2012, his production of “The Book Of Everything” had been named by the “New York Post” as one of the best productions of 2012.
In a video message from overseas, former long-time ambassador for Theatre of Image, Hugo Weaving spoke of the impression the company had made on his own children’s upbringing and of society at large.
Theatre of Image’s production of “The Happy Prince”, which remained in its repertoire for 16 years, is in the process of being transformed into a new ballet for to be called choreographed by Graham Murphy to a score by Christopher Gordon and to be staged by the Australian Ballet in 2020.