I Knew A Phoenix In My Youth

Woodford Folk Festival Closing Ceremony, 2020

Outdoor Theatre

Artistic Director / Writer - Alex Podger

PART 1: A small marsupial boy finds a baby bird, and raises it and soon the child and his hatchling becomes a youth and his phoenix. They grow older together in a summer drawn long and golden, but soon we must all grow up. The phoenix must rise into the sky, and as his childhood friends bid farewell and the worlds starts to fall apart, Emir decides to stand up for the smallest creatures. 

A large scale folk tale told with puppets created by artists Orla Clogher, Dave Young and Bryan Woltjen and Jozef Koda. In respect of the Australian bushfires, no fire or pyrotechnics were used in the ceremony, and instead the performance concluded with a celebration of climate activist groups and the volunteer Rural Fire Services, who have supported our ceremony over the past three decades and this year got a front row seat. 

The Rift

Woodford Folk Festival Closing Ceremony, 2019

Outdoor Spectacle Theatre

Artistic Director - Alex Podger

The earth is new and inhabited by peculiar twin-folk - lumbering spheres that resemble two humans bound back-to-back. Their hearts beat to the same song as together they finish painting the trees and sculpting the stones. They know nothing yet of anger, nor hurt, nor love. 


But as the mountains grow slowly around them, so too do the cracks in the human condition - until maddened by selfish desire they tear themselves in two and cast a fiery rift between them.


Inspired by Aristophanes’ Speech, Plato’s ‘Symposium’ (385 BC)

The Woodford 'Fire Event' is the one of the largest annual outdoor theatre productions in Australia, and involves over 1000 artists and participants, for an audience of 20 000 on the first day of the year. 

Verdi's Requiem

Bleach* Festival + Opera Queensland 2019


Site Designer + Fire Artist 

The Gold Coast's spectacular outdoor amphitheatre at HOTA was transformed into a fiery sanctuary for Verdi's iconic work performed by Opera Queensland and Griffith University in collaboration with Bleach Festival. 

12 giant candelabras surrounded the space as 2000 red prayer candles lined the stage. Flames leapt from the wings during the Dies Irae before giving way to pyrotechnic stars in the final refrains of Libera Me. 

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Woodford Folk Festival Closing Ceremony, 2018

Outdoor Spectacle Theatre

Artistic Director / Writer - Alex Podger

In the green hills beside a booming Iron Town, Astrid tends to her herd of endangered Auryx - gentle creatures with magic in their horns and music in their hearts.


The Iron Town thunders on, belching its fumes to turn rusty wheels that never rest, until watchful human eyes discover new value in the Auryx. Despite the warning tolls of the bell, human greed is never quenched - leaving Astrid the only thing standing between the Auryx and extinction. 

The Woodford 'Fire Event' is the one of the largest annual outdoor theatre productions in Australia, and involves over 1000 artists and participants, for an audience of 20 000 on the first day of the year. 

Welcome to Sameville

Festival 2018

Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast

Outdoor Promenade Theatre

Shock Therapy Productions

Production Designer + Costume Designer - Alex Podger

A fruity brutalist world containing a social experiment gone wrong. 

What We Learned From The Sky

Woodford Folk Festival Closing Ceremony, 2017 

Outdoor Spectacle Theatre

Artistic Director / Writer - Alex Podger

A great comet burns across an empty sky. Down below, Astrid and Naut fall in love across a vast ocean, sending messages to each other with beacons and on the wings of birds. 

The Woodford 'Fire Event' is the one of the largest annual outdoor theatre productions in Australia, and involves over 1000 artists and participants, for an audience of 20 000 on the first day of the year. 

The Drought

Woodford Folk Festival, 2017 

Circus / Outdoor Theatre

Director - Hayden Spencer

Production Designer - Alex Podger

Artist - Adam O'Connor McMahon

The is the story of an Australian farmer's slow descent into madness after seven years of impenetrable drought. Isolated, devastated, yet ever hopeful, his only companion is a pet gum boot with a tiny gum sapling he is desperate to keep alive; until he can take it no more and decides to end it all. 

Things Not Of This Earth

National Institute of Circus Arts Showcase, 2016

Circus, Melbourne

Director - Hayden Spencer

Production Designer - Alex Podger

The Planting Ceremonies

The Planting Festival, 2017 

Outdoor Ceremony

Director - Alex Podger

Producer - Alison Burnley

Welcome Ceremony 

Rick Roser and Bob Robinson perform an Aboriginal Fire Ceremony to light the first fire, which is kept alight throughout the festival. Guwurra sings to us, as the Woodfordian Elders waltz across the Village Green. 

Planting Ceremony

The Spanish Community gift Woodfordia with an olive tree. 

Bonfire Ceremony

Woodfordians write their gratitude on paper bags that become a huge candle mandala, to the sounds of The Australian Voices and The East Pointers. The audience and surrounds are filled with flickering candles as the bonfire is lit. 

The Last Leaf

Woodford Folk Festival Closing Ceremony, 2016

Outdoor Spectacle Theatre

Artistic Director / Writer - Alex Podger

In a dead forest at the edge of the world, an ancient giant tries to save the last tree - a colossal paperbark that needs fire to germinate. A golden conjuror sells tickets to watch the tree die, ignoring the Viktor's ancient knowledge, until in a moment of great sacrifice, Viktor puts his own soul into the tree, watching it's vibrant leaves burst to life as his eyes close for the last time. 

Tilda & The Fire Village

Woodford Folk Festival Closing Ceremony, 2015

Outdoor Spectacle Theatre

Artistic Director/Writer - Alex Podger

Tilda returns to her village of fire farmers, to find it destroyed by a band of machine-riding, electro-punk Philistines. The moon has been stolen, and a blue neon cage holds the villagers captive.    With a little help from the natural world, Tilda frees her village and restores the natural order of things.  

The Gremlins

Woodford Folk Festival '10 - '12

Anywhere Theatre Festival '12 + '16

Adelaide Fringe '16

Street/Outdoor Theatre

Producers - Jenna Koda & Alex Podger

Designer/Director - Alex Podger

Director - Hayden Spencer

A race of horned, green-skinned creatures obsessed with flight. Their culture is a simple one - they worship the humble potato, consider planes to be flying gods, and attempt to build flying machines out of 'borrowed' car parts. 


Developed in 2010 for Woodford Folk Festival, The Gremlins performed 8 seasons of outdoor shows plus street performances, guest apperances & a 21 day performance installation in Cairns, and most recently a hit season with sold out shows and five star reviews in the Garden of Unearthly Delights, Adelaide Fringe '16.


Based on clown, slapstick and grotesque physical comedy, with a nod to The Young Ones and the Three Stooges, The Gremlins were a hit with all ages and backgrounds, and created comedy from the junk laying around them. 

For more go to

Savage Grace

Macnas Parade, 2016

Street & Spectacle Theatre

Galway & Dublin, Ireland

Designed/Devised by Orla Clogher

Artistic Director - Noeline Kavanagh

Performance Director & Pyro + Effects Designer - Alex Podger

The Baba Yaga stalks the streets with her lamp, a black bear pulls a shadow wagon filled with melancholy tales as insect revel in a forest of fungi. 

Designed and devised by Orla Clogher, Macnas brought it's most ambitious work yet to the streets of Galway and Dublin to celebrate the companies 30th year as an internationally renowned spectacle and street theatre company. 

Image: Julia Dunin

The Shadow Lighter

Macnas Parade, 2015

Street and Spectacle Theatre, 

Galway & Dublin, Ireland

Artistic Director - Noeline Kavanagh

Assistant Director, Performance Director & Special Effects: Alex Podger

Danu - a Celtic Goddess - walks through the streets with her tribes and talismans. A spectacular parade with over 150 performers and giant images wended it's way through Galway's medieval streets, and again through the city of Dublin for the Bram Stoker Festival. 

Little Boxes

Anywhere Theatre Festival, 2014

Outdoor Theatre

Director/Designer - Alex Podger

Producers - Jenna Koda, Adrian Threadgould

Performed in a purpose built 180 degree set from reclaimed materials, an absurd pano-drama unfolds around the audience. Six peculiar people live their lives in self-imposed isolation as their actions begin to affect each other more and more. A rather destructive show, it took about 3 hours to reset each day with a large number of technical effects, water effects, walls being torn down and a car crashing through the set during the performance.

Little Boxes premiered at Anywhere Theatre Festival 14.

The Winter Fires

The Planting Festival, 2015

Outdoor Performance
Director - Alex Podger

A winter solstice ceremony at The Planting festival. Families of festivalgoers built their own winter bonfires, and lit them later that night in a spectacle performance surrounded by fire, physical performance, fireworks and a beautiful live score by The Twoks. Two lost souls traversed the edge of a lake, before meeting in the freezing water. 

The Monsters' Heart

Woodford Folk Festival, 2013

Outdoor Theatre

Director - Alex Podger

Each night of the Woodford Folk Festival, the Fire Event structure came to life. Filled with self-obsessed humans, we watched the Heart slowly become occupied by monsters - as each night a new creature arrived and evicted someone before making itself at home.


Pyrotechnics, water and porridge. So much porridge.



The Last Piece

Ausfolk Conference Closing Ceremony, 2010

Outdoor Theatre

Director - Alex Podger

A gathering of cultural engineers from across the country, Ausfolk invited the delegates to set the scene for the Closing Ceremony. Delegates entered across the stage, and placed candles around the lake to illuminate the musicians.  


A beacon of puzzle pieces, painted by the guests, floated in the centre of the pond, before being completed by two characters in a rowboat.

Bon Voyage

Woodford Closing Fire Ceremony, 2013

Outdoor Spectacle Theatre

Director - Joey Ruigrok Van De Werven

Assistant Director - Alex Podger

Performed on the 1st January each year, the Fire Event is a one-off spectacular featuring a cast of dedicated volunteer performers, a choir and orchestra of festival-goers and culminates in a massive bonfire.

Creative3 Conference Opening

Outdoor Fire Show, 2010

Producer / Director - Alex Podger

The fiery opening to the Creative 3 Conference, featuring Deep Blue Orchestra.

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