Man The Balloon by Matt Cameron


CAST SIZE: 11 characters (see casting notes)

A PLAY TO: Read, read aloud, study, perform and produce.

GENRE: Poetic, Magic Realism, Absurd

THEMES: Community, change

CURRICULUM LINKS: The Arts – Drama, Theatre Studies – Modern Theatre, Contemporary Theatre, General Capabilities – Literacy, Personal and Social Learning, Ethical Understanding

SYNOPSIS: A small town in the middle of nowhere: timeless, placeless. A Town Square, surrounded by a café, florist, doctor, butcher, police station and newspaper office. Upstage centre, a cracked church steeple with a door, clock face and a ladder leading to a sign: ‘Population 111’.

A streetlamp, park bench with a headrest at one end and an unfinished statue covered with a cloth. Under it, the sculpted lower legs of a woman and a plaque: ‘Mayor Flummery’. A stairwell entrance to an underground train station and, high on a wall, a faded billboard of a man’s eyes with the words ‘Coming Soon’. The ground is strewn with ochre leaves.

The local balloon man declares the outbreak of an alarming trend: citizens are spontaneously bursting. With its diminishing population, this is a town inhabited by not-quite-together people who are constantly in analysis. Elliot, a hapless balloon enthusiast, struggles to uncover the cause of the random implosions and convince everyone they need help before they all disappear into thin air. Man the Balloon is a satirical and absurd parable of an insecure, small-minded society unwittingly bent on self-destruction.

STAGING: Eleven characters can be played by a cast of seven with dual roles: Malarkey/Herb, Mayor/Doctor, Waldo/Derek and Father Pagan/Hector. The production challenge of people blowing up on stage

may be realised through illusion, pyrotechnics, smoke machines and sound effects. Or a simple theatrical device, with stylised lighting and sound, where the character tosses a handful of ash in the air or bursts a black balloon to signal their demise. The pigeons are intended as mime with sound effects.

We acknowledge that we live and create on unceded lands. We pay our respects to the First Peoples of Australia, and to their elders past, present and future.

© Australian Plays Transform 2024