When the Wheels Fall Off the World

Part II: Crossroads

A feature of Cairns Festival and CIAF for the second year, 2011.

Local Creative – Local Innovative


The WWW (When the Wheels fall off the World) Project brings a series of interactive creative development workshops to the Region.  The material of the play, Crossroads, is split up into modules and then workshopped around Cairns and small towns in the region in August/September this year.  Why?  Because our audiences became so involved in the story last year.  And because we would like to see how the material can be explored in the very places it is written about: small towns in FNQ.

The workshops are designed as professional development for Regional theatre makers.  Learn more about Forum Theatre techniques, see an innovative creative development process at work.  Be challenged by the content of the play.  Connect with the WWW Project and Tropical Arts.  Network in your area.


“Crossroads” is the second part of an epic intergenerational story set in tropical Northern Australia in 2045, 25 years after the Breakdown.  We follow “When the Wheels fall off the World” characters, Will and Aphra, as they arrive and shelter at “Crossroads” on their  journey up the mountain.  Pregnant with his child, Aphra has left the white town and joined Will and his brother Worru’s mob as they head away from the coast, to join the New Tribes gathering for Christmas.

Leah, 17, is the daughter of Worru, a chief of the New Tribes.  She should marry, but not Sam.

Sam is white.  He is a gardener, an exile trapped in isolation watching the tribes pass through “Crossroads”, his Grandmother’s permaculture oasis.  Liz and the mysterious immigrant, the minstrel, Joe, pay their taxes to the New Tribes.  Worru and Kate with their children are collecting the rent.

The 9 taking refuge in the tiny “Crossroads” homestead are connected through complex family relationships.  The past of this future time, is inextricably intertwined with the way forward.  A tropical low puts the pressure on to reveal what has gone before.

The cyclone shakes loose skeletons from the closet and as the storm subsides, a half-dead man will shatter the fragile calm.  In the still eye of the cyclone, 14 year-old Elijah finds a man unconscious under a massive fallen tree:  Aphra’s husband, Will’s cuckold, Sam’s father, Wayne.  The strewn debris flung as the cyclone returns with greater fury is mirrored in the damage that Wayne will inflict.  From the wreckage, new ways emerge.

Some Comments from 2010 production of “When the Wheels fall off the World” 2009/2010 productions:

‘I cried at the end’

‘Watching “When the Wheels fall off the World” was like reading a really good book that you don’t want to put down’

‘Please let me know when the next instalment of WWW is being performed I really want to see what happens next’

From August 19th – 29th Tropical Arts Presented ‘When the Wheels Fall off the World’ at the Cairns Botanical Gardens and on September the 2nd 2010, WWW was performed at the Atherton Theatre on Silo St.

Due to the success of ‘When the Wheels fall off the World,’ Avril Duck, along with Warren Clements, have commenced writing the next part in the three part series.

WWW Poster
WWW Poster: Click to enlarge

By Avril Duck with Warren Clements

Directed by Guillaume ‘Willem’ Brugman


Warren Clements
Liza Parker
Monique Woldhuis
and international guest: Just Meijer

An official Festival Cairns Event Partner, and a CIAF Satellite Event.

Cairns Botanic Gardens
Collins Avenue, Edge Hill
Thurs, Fri, Sat, August 19, 20, 21
Mon-Sun Aug 23-29, 2010

 “Set in a dystopic future where the line between black and white is starkly defined, this love story speaks unflinchingly of reconciliation.”

Tropical Arts was proud to present “When the Wheels fall off the World” (or WWW – triple w – as the play is affectionately known) at the Botanical Gardens as part of CIAF and Festival Cairns in 2010.

From the imagination of local playwright, Avril Duck the play started to breathe under consultation with Warren Clements, talented actor and lead dancer at Tjapukai, who added Indigenous language and cast his eye upon Will Oats, the complex and compelling male lead of the play.

When the Wheels fall off the World- Starring Warren Clements & Liza Parker
When the Wheels fall off the World- Starring Warren Clements & Liza Parker

This unique production has captured the imagination of the theatre scene in Cairns.  From early 2009, locally based, international theatre-man, Guillaume ‘Willem’ Brugman lead the play through a creative development process in various locations such as JUTE Theatre, The Young Company and the Rondo Theatre, which culminated in the premiere at Undara Experience inaugural theatre evening to open ‘Opera in the Outback’.

The play’s mystique had been growing as preparation heated up for the Festival Cairns/CIAF event.  The actors worked in the Botanic Gardens to prepare for a site-specific show.  Clements was joined onstage by local performer and dance & drama teacher, Liza Parker as Aphra and by emerging talent, Monique Woldhuis as the spirit of Aphra’s mother, Liz Bains.  One of Brugman’s most insightful developmental strokes was to introduce a 4th character, a musical witness played by actor, Just Meijer, who flew in from Amsterdam, between professional engagements in Europe, to join the local players for the production.


25 years after the absolute breakdown of centralized nation states and any sense of a global village has vanished: no electricity grid, no telecommunications, no fossil fuels and no public hospital system.  Life has changed dramatically in this rural Queensland community where new local rule very quickly leads to Aboriginal people silently, collectively returning to country; creating a physical divide between black and white.

Monique Woldhuis, Liza Parker and Just Meijer
Featuring Monique Woldhuis, Liza Parker and Just Meijer

Under cover of darkness, Aphra disappears into her secret, isolated bush sanctuary where she revels in private rebellion against the repressive local laws and a loveless marriage.  But there are eyes in the rainforest.  Will appears, because it is his own sacred site.

Warren Clements and Liza Parker
Warren Clements and Liza Parker

The path of their developing relationship is littered with the misunderstandings, prejudices and cultural assumptions of their histories.  The destination of their journey together is obscured by the obstacles of their very different personal circumstances and the conditions which may come to pass when the wheels fall off the world.

The Botanic Gardens has come alive at night over the last 3 weeks with rehearsals in earnest for Tropical Arts’ new local play, “When the Wheels fall off the World”(WWW) – a love story which explores the theme of reconciliation.  As CIAF and Cairns Festival draw nearer, the creative team for the production is building:

In WWW, Meijer, who is a professional actor in Europe, plays the violin which weaves through the play like an onstage witness and the voice of the Mother’s spirit. Meijer understands voices: as well as stage acting, he plays a number of different Dutch Disney voice overs, as well as being the voice of Patrick Sea-Star in the Dutch version of “Sponge Bob”.

The WWW production also provided an opportunity for many young people around Cairns.  Students from two local schools put their energies behind the production.  4 students from Trinity Bay State High School were placed with the production as part of their Certificate II in Active Volunteering run by the Home Economics department.  These students were guided through Box Office and Ushering tasks as well as getting an idea about the behind the scenes administration of a theatre production.

A vital part of the production, much of the technical side – sound and lighting, was taken on by a hard-working events team from Redlynch State College.  13 year 11 students are currently studying for their Certificate II in Live Theatre Production and Events.  This opportunity gave them a chance to plan and operate a production, under professional supervision.  As well as this, ideas from the students was taken seriously as creative input.

Opening night is traditionally the night for VIPs and noise, however, the VIP night for WWW was held on Wednesday the 25th of August – sporting a visit from the Festival Dragonflies and a talk with the cast afterwards.

Welcome to Tropical Arts