RECOMMENDED FOR: Years 10-12
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.