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When eleven-year-old Juniper May receives a petition signed by her entire class stating that she is ‘the most hated person in the school’ her life is thrown into complete meltdown. Juniper stops eating, she refuses to return to school and her parents become increasingly desperate. Finally, after exhausting all other avenues her parents resort to the only thing they have left, a giant singing robot.
Based on a true story, Robot Song illustrates the profound, transformative nature of creativity that, when combined with unconditional love, becomes an unstoppable force. For Juniper, creativity opens doors into places she never knew existed, allowing her to be defined on her own terms for the first time.
Robot Song is a deeply personal story. It shares an honest, intensely funny and often unconventional window into writer/director Jolyon James’ experience parenting a child on the Autism Spectrum. The show poses and attempts to answer the question, how do we support, foster and celebrate difference in our children in the face of an increasingly rigid and homogenised world?
Robot Song is a genuine family show. It is joyful and full of hope. It is for any child who has ever felt isolated, and any parent who is desperate for tools to help an isolated child. The show employs cutting edge digital technology, animatronics and a beautiful original musical score.
For ages 8+
“At times laugh-out-loud hilarious, Robot Song is also a poignant, compelling story, that covers topics young people would do well to be exposed to, without straying into being patronising or syrupy. Gorgeously told and superbly crafted, one minute I was laughing at poo jokes and the next I had tears in my eyes. A must-see for young people growing up in a world where bullying is widespread but who need to understand that difference should be seen as an asset.”
Fiona Parker, ABC
“I have seen Robot Song twice now, and I love it more the second time around. I really enjoyed how you dive into the real world of an Autistic kid. I really related to Juniper and I understand her feelings. Thank you for showing my Autistic world and how being different is awesome!”
Danial, Audience Member
“What a fantastic performance of Robot Song! My class were entertained, moved, and enlightened by the performance as was I. In our discussions in class following the performance, students have shared tears and deeply personal stories which have been directly stirred by seeing Robot Song. One of my students is on the autism spectrum and he has been greatly impacted. He thanked Ashlea for her sensitive and accurate portrayal of Juniper. Thank you for bringing this play to student audiences. You just never know the enormity of the impact you’re having on kids.”
“I loved that the story was relevant for all and encouraged compassion and understanding for difference. My daughter really felt the underlying bullying aspects and helped her talk about situations from her own experience. The performer was true to her character, the stage was always full of excitement, the characters were strong, the music was beautiful and encouraged others to participate. I also loved that the story on stage was between a father and a daughter. It made me cry and laugh from a deep place.”
Bendigo Audience Member
“It was wonderful to see a neurodivergent character represented so truthfully and beautifully on stage. The design and script were incredible and it was just such a stunning, heartwarming, funny and real piece. I don’t think I’ve ever been so affected by a piece of theatre in my life.”
“Robot song – wow! We had a great time, our 6yo and our 10yo absolutely loved it, as did we. Completely absorbed in the beautiful story. Our 6yo wrote his review “I loved it so much I could explode!”. Thank you for creating such an inclusive and inspiring story that celebrates individuality and creativity”.
Paul, Audience Member
“Relate-able subject matter, compelling story for various age ranges, excellent execution of drama conventions. Ideal representation of set and pop transformation. The Q&A offered at the end was priceless experience for my students.”
“Honesty, I could empathise with both the teenage and the parent character – surprise (at the end with the robot), and it made both me and my teenage daughter cry with it’s honesty and expression of human vulnerability”
Bendigo Audience Member
Writer/Director: Jolyon James
Dramaturg: Christian Leavesley
Assistant Director: Sarah Branton
Designer: Jolyon James
Lighting Design: Paul Lim (Additive)
Set Construction: Tom Eeles at JT Custom Builds
Costume Design: Beth Sayer
Composer: Nate Gilkes
Musical Director: Ania Reynolds
Ashlea Pyke & Phillip McInnes (Premiere & Melbourne Season)
Sophie Smyth & Chris Brown (National Tour 2019 & 2020)