Michael Gow's first full-length play in a decade is a dazzling tour-de-force of theatrical invention.
Roland Henning has writer's block. When he tries to explain the situation to a therapist, his story begins to tumble back and forth between his childhood in The Shire and his work as a playwright. At the root of it all is that extraordinary day in primary school which shattered his boyhood and plunged him headlong into the dizzy circus of life and art.
Toy Symphony moves between the present day and flashbacks to Roland Henning’s childhood in the Sutherland Shire in the 1960s. His story is funny, fiercely eloquent and shockingly honest. Toy Symphony is a wrestle between the vicious bastardry of being an artist and the sheer exhilaration of the creative act.
"Rich and exhilarating." - Bryce Hallett, Sydney Morning Herald
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Male | Unspecified | 3 to 5 minutes
Starts on page 2
EXTRACT: and I don't know, the workings of grace, you fly in like dambusters and drop your bouncing therapeutic bomb and it explodes and the wall collapses and water pours out and floods the towns downstream, and everything gets washed away and cleared away and swept away and new levels of fertile mud are deposited and the river is flowing again. And. I'm saved. Now. If that's how you, if that's what I'm paying a hundred and forty dollars an hour for well... you know.
Female | 40s | 3 to 5 minutes
Starts on page 13
EXTRACT: But life hasn't always been sedate, far from it. Everyone will know what I'm talking about when I say Red Tuesday or Black Sunday, Black Friday, Ash Wednesday; terrible names for terrible days. Terrible because of bushfire. And we've had terrible fires in our own shire, nearly every year. Homes are lost, sometimes lives. Terrible days. But let's not forget, that after fire, the bush does grow back. People rebuild.
Male | Unspecified | 5 to 10 minutes
Starts on page 42
EXTRACT: ..how do we know there's only two, here and hereafter, why not here and there and there and everywhere? Lots of places where it's just as hard in other ways. There's hardships other parts of us have to endure. Isn't that what we should be talking about? My parents dream, right, was a suburban paradise where life was just supposed to get better and better without end but it ended in hospitals and pain and despair and panic and fear.
PDF download (2.1MB) Teachers' Notes for 'Toy Symphony' by Michael Gow.
Program for Michael Gow's 'Toy Symphony', presented by Company B, Belvoir St Theatre.
"Frazzled by drugs and the demons of his past, successful playwright Roland Henning (Chris Pitman) is blocked. Reluctantly, he allows therapist Nina (Lizzy Falkland) to coax him into revisiting his boyhood in the Sutherland Shire: the emergence of his creative gift (or curse, depending on who is witness to it); his sexual awakening; the depths to which he has sunk since."
Teachers' notes and education kit for 2007 Company P production of Michael Gow's 'Toy Symphony'.