Hijabi Girl: A Musical Puppet Show Sharing Messages of Multiculturalism

Hijabi Girl: A Musical Puppet Show Sharing Messages of Multiculturalism

Teaching multiculturalism to children is a vital aspect of Australian education. ‘Hijabi Girl: A Musical Puppet Show’ aims to take this education to new levels, with a vibrant, fun and musical theatre show for children aged 7-9.

The show was conceived by Larrikin Puppets, led by husband and wife duo Brett Hansen and Elissa Jenkins.

The pair have trained and worked extensively in puppeteering, regularly performing successful pop-up variety shows together for children aged 5 and under.

‘Hijabi Girl: A Musical Puppet Show’ will be their first show aimed at an older audience. With a greater theatre production, custom-made puppets and an important message, Elissa believes this show will be one of Larrikin Puppet’s best yet.

“When we were creating ‘Hijabi Girl’ we had to talk to an older audience on their level,” Elissa says.

“[We wanted to] present to them a day in the life of their school and the conversations they have, but bring music, colour and puppetry that makes that smile and laughter and inner joy come out a little bit more… and that’s just the power of puppetry and music together.”

Based on the children’s book ‘Hijabi Girl’ by Hazel Edwards and Ozge Alkan, Brett and Elissa wanted to highlight the themes of acceptance from the book in a unique way.

Photo of Hazel Edwards, Ozge Alkan and illustrator Serena Geddes courtesy of Femagogy Zine

Elissa felt drawn to the original story as a daughter of Italian and British parents and immediately saw its potential.

“When Hazel Edwards told us about the book it was something that resonated with me as a first generation Australian,” Elissa says.

“I love celebrating multiculturalism in Australia. I think it is the most wonderful thing about our country.”

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During the crowdfunding for the show, Elissa heard news of the Christchurch mosque shootings and was devastated. The tragic event inspired her to move forward with the show and continue funding.

“Brett and I had to stand up,” she said.

“We had to do something… we had to be courageous and stand up for love, acceptance and understanding.”

Elissa says that acceptance and diversity in Australia is so powerful and what she has always loved about the country.

“Anything that is a step in the other direction is not an Australia that I grew up in,” she says.

‘Hijabi Girl: A Musical Puppet Show’ features ten original custom puppets made by several puppet builders.

The show features a scene where two of the main characters Melek and Tien enjoy rice paper rolls and a Turkish kebab. “And both of these foods are puppets, so that’s kind of cool!” Elissa says, laughing.

“The interesting thing about this show is that it really is just a fun romp,” Elissa reveals.

“It’s just like everyday life at any mainstream Australian primary school.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions the show, which was expected to go ahead this year, has been postponed. However, Larrikin Puppets plan to tour sometime in 2021 in their home state Queensland, and remain hopeful that the show can also visit other Australian states in the near future.

“We don’t expect Hijabi Girl: A Musical Puppet Show to be going anywhere anytime soon!” Elissa promises, “we plan to have it in our catalogue for many years to come.”

Click HERE to stay regularly updated with ‘Hijabi Girl: A Musical Puppet Show’ and help support Larrikin Puppets by downloading their original songs on Spotify and Apple Music!

Photo credit group shot of 4 Hijabi Girl Puppets: The Puppet Creation Lab.

Kellie Maloney

Kellie is studying a Bachelor of Communications and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies at UTS. She has a passion for travelling and experiencing other cultures through music, film, art and food. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: [email protected]