Arts & Entertainment

Melita Rowston’s Shit Tourism Presents: The Giant Worm Show

Photo: Maryna Rothe

Remember Ossie Ostrich from Hey Hey It’s Saturday? In her Sydney Fringe Festival performance, The Giant Worm Show, Melita Rowston will be joined on stage by Benito Di Fonzo, who will be performing foul-mouthed manifestations of TV puppets Ossie Ostrich (Hey Hey It’s Saturday) and Claude the Crow, from another variety show from the 70’s (Shirl’s Neighbourhood).

“They comment as I tell this crazy story, a true story of going to this tiny country town, one and a half hours from Melbourne, Korumburra, to track down the world’s largest worm puppet that was built in the 70’s, as a way to bring tourists to the town,” show creator and star Melita Rowston explained.

It’s a strange hybrid, a type of TED talk, where images and storytelling kind of talk to each other about really bizarre, strange and unusual things. (TED talks are popular talks that have come out of America, where a Powerpoint or slide presentation is used in a really creative way to tell a story).

“I’ve taken the idea of a TED talk but made it a bit more like a comic monologue with giant worms and a giant pink worm puppet. It’s a storytelling comedic adventure, there’s lots of jokes, weird attractions, photos of things, there’s a strong visual element, it’s a little bit documentary,” explained Rowston.

“Korumburra used to have a Giant Worm Festival but it ended in the 80’s. Big things like the Big Pineapple and Big Banana are my kind of brand, chic tourism, and this town used to have a Big Worm. This inspired me to go there and try and track down the giant worm puppet, Karmai, used in the festival. I met the guy who made it and all the quirky locals, I talked to a lot of the kids who were primary school kids at the time, now in their 40’s and late 30’s, who remembered the festival as something that changed their lives because it brought art and creativity to a small dairy town.”

“It was pride in an Indigenous creature. Karmai was a worm from that region, so it’s very much celebrating this ancient creature that’s 65,000,000 years old and a big part of Aboriginal culture and celebrating our natural land and heritage,” added Rowston. (MS)

Sep 6–10, 8pm. Old 505 Theatre, 5 Eliza St, Newtown. $16-$24. Tickets & info: melitarowston.com or sydneyfringe.com

BY MEL SOMERVILLE