Imagine you are thirteen years old again. Summer holidays still last forever, the burden of unfinished homework shades Sunday evenings... Grown ups keep on telling you these are the happiest days of your life, yet your mind is trapped in the dull grind of school and the bus journey home.
One blue skied morning the phone rings. The school has been shut. Suddenly, a whole day of adventure extends before you. The world seems different: Sun strikes the buildings at unfamiliar angles, people flow differently in the street outside. You should be stuck in the classroom, yet instead you are now standing on the doorstep, privy to another world - the world that has always existed outside the school gates on a weekday.
If this is a matinee film, then Gabby Young and her band are the colourful characters sent to rescue you. You can hear them gently tapping on your bedroom window, beckoning you to join them. A dusty flat bed truck is parked just round the corner, stacked with trumpets, guitars, mandolins and countless other wonderful instruments... Minutes later, your parents discover a curiously empty bedroom and an open window. Nearby, a pair of curtains waft gently in the breeze...
Countless miles away, the road runs long and unfamiliar. The soil is dust, the sky warm. Songs with resplendent, towering choruses rise above the din of the engine: "Horatio" dramatizes the story of a doomed man to epic proportions, and "Whose House" sounds like an entire township joining forces to exorcise a haunted home.
The afternoon is waning, but there is one last stop. "We are all off to the zoo!" announces the band. Only this a zoo unlike any other. You hand the attendant your ticket and step through the turnstile... An orchestra of animals greet you. Foxes paw their accordions, bears blow their clarinets. Pandas, lions and other creatures join the parade. The entire zoo is alive with the sound of folk and jazz.
Inevitably it comes time to leave and head on home. The light on the horizon has narrowed like a sleepy eye lid. You wave goodbye to the animals and slump into the back of the truck. "We Are All in This Together" a voice laments. The strings of a guitar sound delicately nearby. The adventure is over.
You return just in time for the nine o'clock news and supper. Once again you pack your school bag, and attempt to ignore the underlying dread of handing in half-finished homework. The room is now a little cold, so you shut the window.
The ticket stub from the zoo is still in your back pocket. You fish it out, pause, and place the scuffed remains beneath your pillow... hoping it will still be there come morning.
Featured in these pictures:
The garment and headpiece are from the Salon Gabrielle collection, designed especially for Gabby Young by the Miss Kiki Salon Presents artists collective. © Sofia Kalaitzidi, Kundalini Arts and Robert Burton. The headpiece was produced by Ugly Lovely.
Stage design and illuminated necklace by Jeffrey Michael.
Live lighting design and programming by Marie Sanders.