Making a wonderland

When the Lismore station closed in 2003 more than 250 people turned up to protest the closing of the rail service. The strong interest in the Railway Wonderland project reflects the depth of feeling in the region related to the loss of this part of the economic and social fabric. The main character of Ana is inspired by the many stories of Italian immigration to the area.

NORPA developed Railway Wonderland through a series of creative development residencies and community consultations. Inspired by local stories of the region we engaged with local writers, actors, musicians, Rail Corp staff, historians, community choirs and local lobbyist groups. We began in 2009 with a call out to local writers to submit short stories that were then performed at the 2010 Byron Bay Writers Festival. These stories partly informed the first creative development held in October 2010. We used the Writers Festival platform to share the project’s vision with the community and establish awareness and generate media interest in the project. We invited local musicians, actors and designers to the 2010 /2011 development to inform the process and we held a pubic showing for community feedback.

Railway Wonderland is a highly physical work with cast playing multiple roles and drawing on their experience in physical comedy and clowning. The work is also inspired by melodrama in all its historical and contemporary forms to create a shifting world of mini narratives. Railway Wonderland is at once highly accessible and original.

Presentation Partner


Creative team

Conceived and Directed by Julian Louis
Devisor/Writer Janis Balodis
Devisor/Performers Jo Turner, Helen Christinson, Demetrios Sirilas, Philip Blackman, Katia Molino
Producer Marisa Snow
Dramaturg Deborah Pollard (2012)
Choreographer Emma Saunders
Composer/Musical Director Michael Askill (2012)
Choir Master Peter Lehner (2012), Nicholas Routley (2015)
Featuring the choir Vox Caldera (2015) | Anita Kuhn, Alanpaillas Paillas, Chris Harris, David Ellemor-Collins, Heather Ellemor-Collins, Deirdre Paillas, Geof Webb, Jude Magee, Ken Wallace, Laura Hymers, Louise Litchfield, Nicky Thomson, Rachel Jenner, Rhys Daniell, Traise Karen, Sandy Cochrane, David Williamson and Hanne Pit
Costumes William Kutana
Key Musician Shenzo Gregory
Percussionist Greg Sheehan
AV Design and Video documentation Salvador Castro
Lighting Designer Richard Morrod
Technical Manager Karl Johnson