Imagine by Alison Lester

Jolyon James

Jolyon James is a multidisciplinary visual artist, writer and performance maker. Between 2014-2021 Jolyon was the Artistic Associate and lead artist with Arena Theatre Company and has held teaching and directing roles at The Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) and Monash University. In 2019 Jolyon wrote, directed and designed Robot Song, winning the prestigious 2019 Helpmann Award for Best Children’s Production. Robot Song has since been selected twice for inclusion on the VCE Drama Playlist and won two Drama Victoria Awards. Robot Song perfectly showcases Jolyon’s skillset, methodologies and collaborative practices. The show incorporates live performance, interactive live animation, animatronics and large-scale puppetry with an original musical score composed by Nate Gilkes. Robot Song has toured extensively throughout Australia and secured multiple international dates including the Imaginate Festival in Edinburgh and U.S and Canadian tours. In addition to writing and directing, Jolyon is a professional animator, illustrator and photographer embracing new technology in the realisation of all his works. In 2021 he co-created Heart VR, a hybrid live performance and virtual reality work, taking young people on a journey deep into their own hearts. TRAPPER, another co-creation with Arena Theatre Company, combines slam poetry with large-scale remotely operated kinetic sculpture, and was showcased at the Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne. Hidden Creature Gallery employs live animation and augmented reality technology to bring to life stories and characters created by young participants. Having already toured extensively throughout Victoria, Hidden Creature Gallery participated in Adelaide’s DreamBIG Festival 2021 and Castlemaine State Festival to over 1,000 young people.


A live stage adaptation of Alison Lester’s best selling children’s book Imagine, reuniting the Helpmann award-winning team which created Robot Song. This development has also been funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and Creative Victoria, and has commitment from multiple presenters.

Imagine has been a certified bestseller since its 1989 publication and Alison Lester, a past Australian Children’s Laureate, has been honoured with an Order of Australia. Her body of work is instantly recognisable with a reach that is both geographic and generational. Those raised on her books are now sharing them with their own children and grandchildren. Imagine presents universal themes around creativity and the natural environment relevant to both regional and metropolitan audiences. Imagine is a powerful reminder that connection, creativity and play are essential ingredients for positive mental health and aligned with Alison’s strong sense of the environment, allows us to look beyond our backyards into a shared richly beautiful world. Like the book, the stage adaptation will be episodic. Five linked projection screens will seamlessly oscillate between the book’s epic natural locations and the smaller domestic setting of the two children.

Performers will play and sing through the pages, building the scenes from items located around the stage. These are then magically transferred and animated onto five large screens behind them, with live camera feeds capturing close-up performance elements. Supported by vocal looping stations, an original musical score and input from the audience, the performers will voice the many animals and soundscapes that appear throughout the book. Like the book, this work should feel effortless for an audience member to experience. The transition between a live space into an animated world is seamless. To achieve this, the show will be driven by an ambitious design and technical engine powered by Adobe Character Animator, giving Alison’s iconic illustrations the ability to react and respond to the audience in real time.

Session Times
PROFILE: Here’s Our Idea
Friday 9 June, 11:30am AEST


Nic Clark
Nicholas Clark Management