Independent Spotlight Perth: The Hardest Way to Make an Omelette

Leah Mercer and Jessica Harlond-Kenny Photo:  Cicely Binford
Leah Mercer and Jessica Harlond-Kenny
Photo: Cicely Binford

Jessica Harlond-Kenny has been hard at work finding out The Hardest Way to Make an Omelette. She’s a freelance theatre artist who can be found both behind the scenes and front of house at some of Perth’s major venues; has been on tour and interning with Spare Parts Puppet Theatre; and has travelled interstate to learn her craft. She’s been developing her one-woman show The Hardest Way to Make an Omelette for a few years now, and has lately teamed up with director Leah Mercer to present the piece as part of the 2013 Fremantle Festival.

Over the years, Jessica has been mentored and supported by many artists and theatre makers. These range from former lecturers such as Julie Robson who is now in Queensland, and Annette Downs, Jessica’s mentor while she was working in Tasmania, to Philip Mitchell and Michael Barlow, the artistic director and associate director of Spare Parts, as well as her own family members, who she says are all “artists, poets and dreamers.” She’s revisiting the piece after some time away from it and has been pleasantly surprised by the response from everyone who’s been supporting her in the last couple of months to bring it back to life.

“She wanted to crack it open and have another look at it,” says Leah Mercer, who has been helping Jessica to open it up and put the pieces back together again as her director. The two paired up a few months ago at the suggestion of Philip Mitchell, who had a feeling that Jessica could trust Leah with her work. Mercer and Harlond-Kenny had previously met through a women’s reading group at Edith Cowan University, and Mercer has been on the board of Spare Parts, so they were traveling in the same circles but had never officially worked together before Omelette.

As they’ve been finding new ways in and around the work, Leah says, “it’s been about play and finding the best pieces.” Jessica says she was inclined to work with Leah after she had described the creative process with a metaphor about a bird: “a bird will fly, but if it stopped to think about the process mid-flight, it would probably fall from the sky. But then when it perches, then it can reflect.” For Jessica, this metaphor spoke to the theme of balance, which is key in the piece.

Jessica Harlond-Kenny Image by Jarrad Seng
Jessica Harlond-Kenny
Image by Jarrad Seng

Jessica has been exploring work-life balance, ambition, drive and desires through this show and is using a few dozen eggs to help herself and her audience make sense of it all. The show is a work of object theatre, where everyday objects are endowed with life and meaning through how she manipulates and interacts with these objects. “The audience has to be in on it too; they get to play and make believe as well,” says Jessica. She uses the eggs, egg beaters and a toaster (among other things) as puppets which become helicopters, ambulances, and jeeps. But not to worry; although it does get pretty messy, the audience won’t walk out with egg on their faces.

As an independent theatre-maker in Perth, Jessica feels like she’s just starting to make her mark on the scene and has been involved in a few creative collaborations around town since leaving uni, including See Ya Sailor Man at The Blue Room as part of their 2013 Summer Nights program. Leah, a uni lecturer at Curtin University, is fairly new to Perth, having moved from Brisbane six years ago, but she says that Perth’s independent theatre scene has come more to the surface since she’s been here. She notes that Fringe World has become a powerful force in making theatre accessible for artists as well as the public. She also feels there’s a distinctive Perth style; “there’s a lot of object theatre, a quirky sensibility, or a whimsy,” she says.

It sounds like there will be plenty of whimsy in The Hardest Way to Make an Omelette, and if you make it down for one of the Sunday Breakfast Matinees, your ticket price includes breakfast before or after the show at Il Cibo cafe just across the road. Also, they’re having a special fundraiser show on 6 November to benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. And just in case you were worried about all those eggs (nearly four dozen appear on stage each night, but not all are used), Jessica has partnered with Katie Joy’s Free Range Eggs and they’ve made sure that waste is kept to a minimum during the rehearsal process by reusing shells and, when they can, sourcing them from local cafes .

It should be an egg-ceptional show.

Jessica Harlond-Kenny Image: Jarrad Seng
Jessica Harlond-Kenny
Image: Jarrad Seng


31 October to 10 November

PREVIEW Tuesday 29 October, 8:30pm

Performances Thursday – Saturday at 8:30pm
with matinee performances on Sundays at 11:30am

Full: $20.00
Concession/Preview: $15.00

Sunday Breakfast Special:
Ticket and breakfast @ Il Cibo: $35.00

Only valid for Sunday Matinees. Click HERE for more details.

$3 fee applies to all bookings

[Entertainment vouchers not valid for these performances]

Venue:  Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, 1 Short Street, Fremantle

Booking:  Book on Seat Advisor

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For more information on Spare Parts Puppet Theatre:

Cicely Binford

Cicely originally hails from Dallas, deep in the heart of Texas, USA. She graduated from Texas Woman's University with a Bachelor of Arts in Drama. While at university, she had the opportunity to explore as many aspects of the theatre world as she could fit under her belt, both as a performer, as well as in a number of different design and technical roles. After moving to Australia in 2007, she found herself back in the theatre world, performing, designing, and even directing once again, with a passion rekindled by the increasingly vibrant theatre and performing arts scene in Perth. She is also an avid photographer and can often be found around town at various performing arts events with a camera strapped to her neck. Her aim is to have her finger on the thriving pulse of the arts scene in WA through participation and immersion in everything it has to offer.

Cicely Binford

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