‘WILBUR THE OPTICAL WHALE’ set to make a splash at 2023 Fringe World Perth

By Marnie Adams, Contributor @ Kids In Perth 15 Jan 2023

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Video / Photo Credit: IndelabilityArts

Inclusive theatre company Indelabilityarts is bringing the children’s show “Wilbur the Optical Whale” to the State Theatre Centre of WA on February 3 & 4.


Following their win at the 2022 Matilda Awards where they took home the award for Best Independent Production, “Wilbur the Optical Whale” is the newest instalment from the Brisbane-based company, which employs artists living with a disability to create works that promote and celebrate inclusiveness.


Based on the book by Karen Lee-Roberts, ‘Wilbur the Optical Whale’ tells the story
of a glasses-wearing whale named Wilbur who, along with his best friend Cecil the
Shark, encourages children to accept everyone just as they are.

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Video / Photo Credit: IndelabilityArts

The story takes place under the sea, where the audience is taken on an immersive journey to engage with the environment around them.


Collaborating with Flipside Circus, the show employs art forms including circus, stunning visuals, vivid music, and interactive games to take the audience on a deep-sea sensory dive to meet Wilbur and his cheeky friends.


“There is so much to love about this beautiful tale and
performance.” - Brisbane Kids


They go on to describe the show as “entertaining, engaging and
extremely funny”, and further state that, “Overall, my entire family loved this show.”


“This just might be the most heartwarming show you’ll see all year!” - Kids In Adelaide

Preview | What to expect

Video / Photo Credit: IndelabilityArts

'Wilbur the Optical Whale’ is created to be accessible to all audiences.

All performances feature integrated Auslan and headphones are available so audience members can engage on their own terms. The set also includes a quiet space as part of relaxed performance mode for those who require it.


Indelabilityarts has previously performed ‘Wilbur the Optical Whale’ at Adelaide
Fringe in 2020 and 2022, where the company took home the Weekly John Chataway

Innovation Award and the 2020 Access Award.

They have also performed the show to sold-out audiences at the 2021 Brisbane Festival.

The show won the award of Best Independent Production at the 2022 Matilda Awards in Queensland.

‘Wilbur the Optical Whale’ is playing at the State Theatre Centre of WA on February
3 & 4, 2023 at 10.30am and 1pm.

Tickets are available through artsculturetrust.wa.gov.au 


Learn more about Wilbur The Optical Whale and what makes IndelabilityArts so inspiring below!

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Video / Photo Credit: IndelabilityArts

Q+A | Why support IndelabilityArts...

Learn more about IndelabilityArts with Georgina Bullock, Program Manager.

Question #1. Tell us how Indel-Ability Arts came to be? Why is this theatre company's purpose so important?

Catarina Hebbard and Rebecca Alexander, the co-artistic directors of the company, started indelabilityarts in 2015 when they noticed there was a gap between when people with disabilities left school and being able to seek out professional pathways into the performing arts. They are both professional performing artists with backgrounds in disability, so it was important that this company was inclusive. The goal was for anyone who is disabled, neurodivergent or neurotypical to come and work under one roof developing outstanding original theatre together. 


indelabilityarts is proudly one of Queensland’s first fully professional inclusive theatre companies based in Brisbane, providing employment and training opportunities for artists and community members who identify as disabled. Our role in the arts sector is to provide professional and sustainable pathways to artistic employment for people with disabilities and to model inclusive theatre strategies. We fill a gap in our arts community by providing creative, innovative opportunities for Queensland artists with disabilities by kickstarting, developing, supporting and activating careers.


Question #2. How do artists with disabilities want to be perceived by the public? How does Indel-Ability Arts want to change public perceptions about people with disabilities?

Our artists want to be recognised as any other mainstream artist would. We want to be recognised for the work we do not because of our disabilities but because we make interesting theatre that is informed by the artists we work with. We are huge in letting people discover their full potential. It is not something that will necessarily happen overnight, but taking the time to invest in our artists and their talents is what it is all about. Being flexible and thinking about the way in which we structure a working week is very different from what you might expect. We build our rehearsals around our artists and their needs. We want to start seeing more neurodivergent and disabled actors working on our stages with our able-bodied peers.


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Video / Photo Credit: IndelabilityArts

Question #3. Share an inspiring story of an artist with a disability overcoming a hurdle

Come and see Wilbur the Optical Whale! This play was written by one of our ensemble members, Karen Lee Roberts, and is a charming children’s story reflecting how she overcame many hurdles. During the show, the characters learn to celebrate being different as it is, in fact, an excellent thing.


Question #4. How hard is it for an artist with a disability to carve a career as a performer? What hurdles do they typically have to overcome that an able-bodied performer doesn't?

 Well, if you're a woman you're already going to find it hard to carve out a career and be taken seriously. But if you're a woman with a disability, you are going to find it even tougher. Let's be honest, the cards are not stacked in your favour if you have a disability in any industry. Sure, things are slowly changing, but  indelabilityarts is here to give space to artists with disabilities so they can be taken seriously on our stages and let audiences know we are so much more capable than what you expect.


Every person with disability is different and requires different flexibility when it comes to working on a show. There is no one fix-all solution. Disability is varied and what might work for one artist doesn't necessarily work for another. It is all about working with our artists, ensuring they feel safe, respected, and heard. Then we can go from there and start implementing strategies and processes to ensure the work can get created by the deadline.


Question #5. What can people expect from Wilbur The Optical Whale as a show?

People can expect to have a ‘whale’ of a time - see what I did there!! There is so much joy in this work because it has been written from the heart and from real-life experiences.  It is the most heart-warming show you will see all year. For most kids, this is sometimes their first introduction to a theatre show and seeing artists onstage with disabilities. It is a wonderful way to introduce children to the theatre and to celebrate that being different is a wonderful thing.

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Video / Photo Credit: IndelabilityArts

Top 5 Interesting Facts about Wilbur The Optical Whale!


Fun Fact #1. Wilbur The Optical Whale was written by Karen Lee Roberts who was bullied as a child because of her disability so she wrote this story to make sense of her world.


Fun Fact #2. One of our performers in Prehysterical, Chelsea Angell , knew she wanted to be a circus performer ever since she was 5 years old. When she was in school, she borrowed a book every week, the book was called "how to be an Acrobat." It's the most adorable fact.


Fun Fact #3. We got the name Prehysterical by asking our fanbase on facebook for a name for a caveman show, there was a LOT of great suggestions but Prehysterical was the standout.


Fun Fact #4. The most important item for a successful prehysterical show is actually a bottle of liquid chalk. Its a product that drys the sweat on your hands and makes them grippy. Without it, the show is too dangerous to perform.


Fun Fact #5. The names of the characters in the show are ERgh, Gronk and Ow. We have had different cast members over the 3 years, we have had 3 Ergs, 2 Ows and only 1 Gronk.


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Video / Photo Credit: IndelabilityArts

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Wilbur The Optical Whale | About

'Wilbur the Optical Whale' is a 'tale' about friendship, acceptance, and celebrating difference. Wilbur and Cecil are best friends. They are inseparable...or are they?

One day while playing hide and seaweed, Wilbur and Cecil are set upon by the Starfish Meanie Gang! How do they get out of this one?

Join Wilbur and Cecil to help them in their quest!  'Wilbur' is an immersive, interactive and accessible performance for children aged 3+.

Set in an exquisitely crafted underwater world, the show is full of fun, interactive play, stunning circus tricks, digital and visual imagery, and music.

Wilbur is sure to capture the imagination of and transport the audience to a world of fun and wonder.

All performances have integrated Auslan interpreting, and all shows are presented as 'relaxed'.


Presented by:

indelabilityarts ltd

indelabilityarts is an inclusive theatre company providing professional artistic and training opportunities for artists and community members who identify as having a disability.

Their professional ensemble creates original work that communicates the lived experience of each artist across a range of performance modes.

They further nurture the social, personal, physical and mental wellbeing of participants through our workshop series, offering ongoing skills development and training for community members with a passion and interest in the performing arts.

Through their inclusive practice, they provide opportunities for people with disabilities to access and make work that both reflects their experiences and needs.

Ticket prices: $20.00 to $25.00

Preview | What to expect

Video / Photo Credit: IndelabilityArts

Pricing Information

Type Price
Full Price$25.00
Kids (12 and under)$20
Group (6+)$20.00
Companion Card$0.00

Prices may not be available on all sessions.

All online transactions attract a $2.20 website transaction fee.

Duration: 45 min

Rehearsal Room 1 @ State Theatre Centre of WA
174 William St, Perth, WA, 6000

Friday 3 February 2023 | Saturday 4 February 2023

Click on ticket links for all event dates & times.

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