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The Charming Cedar Rose

It is great that The University of Queensland (UQ) has again welcomed Anywhere Festival events onto the St Lucia Campus. Such a great UQ Life initiative, bringing talented artists from Brisbane and surrounds to perform cabaret, improv, puppetry, and theatre anywhere across campus.

The Cedar Rose is The Puppetarium’s work-in-progress performance, which is travelling to three locations during the 2021 Anywhere Festival: UQ’s Art Gallery Lawn, CREEC Burpengary, and the Maleny Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.

At the centre of this tale are two native timber puppets, Rose Wood and Red Cedar. Rose has returned to the sanctuary of a shack created by her late grandfather, and is shocked to discover that a special tree is the target for Red and his fellow tree fellers. The scene is set for a charming tale of challenge and reconciliation, provoking discussions about the importance of understanding and valuing our native fauna and flora.

A highlight of this performance are the puppets themselves—each carved, with great love and care, by the puppeteers. If you get to see this work-in-progress, do take the time to stay on after the show in order to have the opportunity to hold the puppets and to learn more about the traditions behind the creation of such works of art.

The Cedar Rose hand-carved puppets, with their puppeteers (Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography)

The UQ Art Museum Lawn show was performed to a small audience (even with the offer of free UQ Life popcorn). However, I understand that the Maleny Mary Cairncross Reserve premiere of The Cedar Rose was a sell-out, and I can understand why. The opportunity to take the pre-show environmental walk before the show, and then to sit with family and friends and watch these skilled puppeteers at work, would be great fun. I can see that this would provoke some fruitful discussions about the importance of caring for our environment, and perhaps inspire future puppeteers. But it is probably not an ideal show for UQ students, who might be more tempted by the cabaret, improv and theatre options in the 2021 UQ Anywhere Festival program.

Verdict: An ideal show to inspire the imagination of kids age 3-8.

Audience tip: Details as to future performances of The Cedar Rose are available on the Anywhere Festival website. 45 minutes (with an optional 45 minute walk immediately prior to performances at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve). Tickets $15. All ages.

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Thursday 13th May 2021 (5pm) performance at UQ’s Art Gallery Lawn.