The Button Event

'The Button Event is the true story of one man searching for connections in chaos. Juggling the daily grind of home, work and family comes to an abrupt halt when one of his twin daughters is diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis. In the time it takes to push a button the future of his family hangs in the balance between beauty and fear, faith and science – and what it takes to cope with the messy and absurd things life hurtles at you. With him, we catapult into a world of sleep deprivation, seizures, medication, trampolines and home renovations. This one-man tour-de-force fuses physical performance, wry humour, raw emotion and a few hundred tennis balls. Devised by the multi Greenroom Award-winning artist Todd MacDonald and acclaimed director Bagryana Popov, The Button Event is a deeply personal and fearlessly honest work which ricochets between medical minefields, acts of faith and family counselling. “A work of heart, devastation and success” ' (

The project's brief required the design of multiple stage sets as an evolving prop that enabled the story-line to unfurl. The brief from Todd MacDonald (performing artist & devisor) was to take conceptual ideas, involving tennis balls and boxes, and develop them into a technically resolved interactive set. Close collaboration with Bagryana Popov (director & devisor), Ben Hughes (lighting designer) and Guy Webster (sound designer) ensured that the final work produced a set design synchronized with the performance. The tennis balls were associated with MacDonald's experiences in the telling of the story. Throwing balls into a steel drum as a light playful, even optimistic action, to the cloak of woven tennis balls utterly laden with tangled angst, to the suspended hemisphere of UV lit balls exuding a sense of isolation with intense purpose, all revealed the inseparable relationship between artist and set through performance. The story and the sets were entwined. Empty yet fun,
ordered and intense, destroyed and angry, understood with anxiety, re-constructed with care. The set enabled the emotions of each act, and the physical movement through the script to deliver a well received work during the Brisbane Festival in 2014.

Images: © Stephen Henry