Tristan Meecham & Aphids  GAME SHOW at the Meat Marketas part of

Festival wrap-up: FOLA

Posted by admin, March 27th, 2014

What is ‘live art’? It’s a contentious term that has been applied to works from a broad swathe of cross art form contemporary practice. So it’s a daunting task to attempt to answer that question, and even more so to curate a Festival of Live Art. Arts House, Theatre Works and Footscray Community Arts Centre took on the challenge, with a massive three-week program from across the world. The question wasn’t answered for us, but we (Thom and Fiona) found it was well worth trying.

We hit FOLA – Melbourne’s inaugural Festival of Live Art – in week two, when it had taken over the whole of Arts House, converting the North Melbourne Town Hall and the nearby Meat Market into a playground of live performance. James Berlyn was suited up and manning Tawdry’s typewriters, ready for the secrets Melbourne had to offer, having already hosted the Silent Drag Booth of Berlyn earlier in the week.fola5

The works we saw:

Sam Halmarack (UK) | Sam Halmarack & The Miserablites

An adorable take on audience participation, ably facilitated by our stranded band frontman and a suitably daggy “instructional” video work. Took the audience on the journey.

 

Tristan Meecham | Game Show

Putting his life’s possessions on the line for the live “studio audience”, Tristan Meecham as our host led selected contestants through several gruelling challenges to find the ultimate winner. Large scale and ambitious.

 

triage live art collective & Nicola Gunn | Live Art Escort Service

Fiona procured the assistance of Nicola Gunn to ponder the big artistic question of the festival – What is live art? – while being led outside and down surrounding dark laneways. Peering in on the lives of others through open windows, definitions of live art melted away into shared experience.

 

Sam Routledge & Martyn Coutts | I Think I Can

This Perth Festival favourite called the North Melbourne Town Hall home for the week, laying down the model railway for locals to bring the miniature world to life. Fiona’s Giant Man arrived in town as a political appointment as Acting Police Inspector, only to spring into action to save a Giant Woman being threatened by a vampire on the hotel roof…

 

Julie Vulcan | Drift

Entering a contemplative space of twinkling lights and tentative refuge, we were greeted with an inflatable flotilla of “vessels” where you could curl up against the ravages of the outside world. Travellers remained for such a long time we both missed out on the trip.

 

Malcolm Whittaker | Ignoramus Anonymous

An interactive support group for the ignorant. Is there something you are too ashamed to admit that you don’t know? The sort of thing everyone would scoff at? Ignoramus Anonymous is here to help. Thom’s group were both forthcoming with their knowledge gaps and with their answers, Fiona’s group…not so much.

 

Paul Gazzola | Gold Coin Series

Three works spread across the Town Hall and Meat Market spaces, Paul Gazzola encouraged us to questions our notions of value, worth, and what you truly think a dollar is worth.

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Ranters Theatre | I Know That I Am Not Dead (created by Beth Buchanan)

Fiona was the first audience member to enter Beth’s tent on a first floor balcony at Arts House and spend 20 minutes discussing sleep and not sleeping – one on one. The blankets were cosy, the thermos was full of hot peppermint tea, the conversation convivial.

 

Emma Beech | Life is Short and Long

A work in development, this facilitated conversation about what we know, how we feel, and how we were affected by the Global Financial Crisis morphed into a conversation about coping with crisis more broadly. Fascinating conversation, and Thom got into the snacks.

 

Mish Grigor | Man O Man

Part performance, part town hall meeting, post’s Mish Grigor joined forces with a team of local female writers to script letters to be read on the final night of the Patriarchy. On hearing the beautifully and hilariously crafted arguments for and against, participants were invited to vote on whether the male tyranny should prevail. The performance also included lamingtons. Lots of them.

 

Live Art Dance Party

Curated by Arts House, this was a hit and miss celebration of different works, crossing art forms, boundaries and taste levels. Sisters Grimm and The Town Bikes were highlights.

 

Sarah Rodigari | A Filibuster of Dreams

While many were sleeping off the effects of a Saturday night, Sarah Rodigari was delivering a mammoth ten hour durational performance reciting well-wishes submitted by audience members to their fellow Melbournites.

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Amy Spiers & Catherine Ryan | Nothing To See Hear (Dispersal)

Appropriating the techniques of riot squads and police units, patrons were steered away from the “performance space”, breaking and reforming their crowds. Fiona was a peaceful objector, and got covered in ‘Nothing to See Here’ tape for her disobedience. A stand out experience provoking self-reflection and meditation on freedom of choice.

 

Fragment31 / Leisa Shelton | Mapping

What are the key touch points and experiences you’ve had with live art in Australia? This work seeks to map the collective memory of all participants.  Stage One of a longer project, Leisa reported early results were showing a flurry of Perth-based projects. Stage Two will build an archive and invite us to step back and see what it looks like.


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Summer time Oddysea

Posted by admin, November 27th, 2013

Sensorium Theatre’s co-artistic director, Francis Italiano, takes us through the background behind their new interactive performance for children with special needs – Oddysea.

Words: Francis Italiano Photo: Ashley de Prazer

In our previous show, The Jub Jub Tree, young audiences with special needs relished feeling grass and dirt underfoot in our luscious multi-sensory forest, and delighted in joining the animals they met who lived there. Encouraging them to be active participants in, rather than passive recipients of, the story became for us the cornerstone of Sensorium Theatre’s approach to “immersive” performance. In creating our new show ‘Oddysea’, the company was keen to explore this idea further and make the audience’s interactive experience even more dynamic and kinetic – not only taking them on a narrative journey, but seeing how we could enable them to undertake a physical journey of their own.

An odyssey is a journey or quest – traditionally heroic by nature – with one or more main characters reaching a goal after overcoming trials along the way…

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For many of our audience, some of whom have little or no movement and are unable to speak, just getting through a single day can require heroic efforts. How then, to convey a sense of fun and adventure in a journey that they could be part of? Given Sensorium’s method of using sensory stimuli to create cognitive “ins” to a story for our audience within an immersive setting, we began to think about where we’d like that journey to take them, and what kind of sensory delights we might like to offer them along the way? Being a Fremantle-based company, we ended up at The Sea…

So, in Oddysea, we’ve invited children with special needs to come on a journey to explore the sights, sounds, textures, smells and tastes of the oceanic world, and revel in the sensuous joy of sun, sand and sea while encountering some of the beautiful, extraordinary and truly odd characters and creatures who call the sea home.

For the Creative Development of this new show, the company undertook what we now plan to be a template for making our future new works; that is, after an initial brainstorming period for the creative team to establish our framework and objectives, we went on to directly collaborate with a representative spectrum of our intended audiences for the rest of the devising and creation period. Basing ourselves at Kenwick School for the duration of the development over a whole term, we alternated artists’ collaborative devising days with hands-on workshop-style days with the kids and staff in a kind of experiential dramaturgy -where we trialed different story ideas, variations of the live original music and instrumentation, and prototypes of interactive props, puppets and settings with them – adjusting, tweaking, jettison-ing and re-inventing based on their responses and direct feedback. The usually exciting collaborative experience of a creative development was amplified incredibly by having the kids in on the process – if an idea was a dud, then the audible “thud” when it crashed was totally palpable from our harshest critics, but if an idea had wings, then watching it soar, propelled by their enthusiasm, was beyond beautiful. Several of the songs from the score were inspired by the kids and the ending was directly influenced by one class in particular. It seems so obvious in retrospect, but what better way to fashion immersive worlds than to interact directly with the audience you want to invite into them as you are creating them?

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Working with the kids in a mock-up of our proposed set, using approximations of the final puppets and props, also allowed us to tackle the practical question of how best to physically convey a journey. Since many of our audience have limited physical mobility, in “Oddysea” we’ve explored “bringing” the journey to them, at times using happily old-school theatre  techniques such as “travelling” set-pieces and puppets/performers past them, and at others taking them on mini-promenades – literally propelling them along the slippery gold-satin “sand” if necessary. Wherever possible, children are taken out of their wheelchairs. In the finished version of the show, as we set off from the beach and the kelp-lined rock pools of the shoreline recede, accompanied by sea-shell rattles and steel-drum conch-shells, our principal characters, Crab & Turtle, encourage the audience to go ever further on their Oddysea. Having taken us up on our offer, the kids are treated to multiple transformations of the space before the tactile extravaganza of a crocheted coral reef unfurls before them and they arrive at their destination.

The journey the audience and artists take together is truly an odyssey. After such a rich development, enthusiastic test audiences and a promising start to our pilot tour, we decided our preferred mode of transportation – sensory stimuli, imaginary play, and intimate immersive interaction – is the only way to travel!

The Sensorium Theatre artists are highly skilled in working with children with special needs. Audience size is limited to 12 so that individual learning abilities can be catered for and experiences can be maximised. Performing Lines WA can create a performance package tailored to your needs, from the full 7-day residency to a one-off performance.

2013 School Tour: Kalamunda ESC and Sir David Brand School
2014 School Tour: Malibu School, Gladys Newton School, Carson Street School, Durham Road School, Creaney ESC, Beldon ESC, Merriwa ESC, Gwynne Park ESC

Please note there are no public performances of Oddysea. If you would like Sensorium Theatre to visit your school, please contact rachael@performinglineswa.org.au to discuss the range of residency and performance packages.

 


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INTERVIEW: Sally Richardson Standing Bird 2

Posted by admin, November 6th, 2013

We have a soft spot for the team behind Standing Bird 2. Not only have we had the pleasure of working with the entire creative team individually on other projects – we worked alongside Sally, Danielle and Jacqui on the first iteration of Standing Bird for their premiere season in 2012 during Summer Nights and Fringe World. Billed as a bravura solo performance by Jacqui Claus (2012 Dance Australia Critics Choice – Most Outstanding Female Dancer), Standing Bird 2 has been re-structured, re-visioned and refined for Season Two at The Blue Room Theatre. We talk to Director and Performing Lines WA core artist Sally Richardson about what to expect.

Words: Sarah Rowbottam (SR) and Sally Richardson (SallyR)
Photos: Ashley de Prazer

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SR. You did it once, why do it again?
SallyR. You return to a work determined to make it better, and to resolve and refine your concept and your ideas. The initial devising space is such a different experience, with a high degree of uncertainty and is always limited by the time and resources available to you. Fringeworld was a perfect environment to show the work at an early stage, in a performance framework that is about experimentation, exploration, and testing your ideas for the first time with an audience who is also excited by the rawness and freshness of the work. The original presentation also incorporated a number of ideas, and story lines I had been working with on and off over a few years. Standing Bird 2 is a synergy and synthesis of those ideas into a single narrative and ‘voice’, co-created and performed by and for dancer Jacqui Claus.

SR. What have been some exciting developments with the next iteration of the work?
SallyR. The work has been re-structured, re-visioned and refined, with some additional new material developed and scored. The new design created by Fiona Bruce and Lauren Ross is bold and contemporary and locates the work in a different context and audience configuration. We also re-shot all the film sections exclusively with Jacqui, and these appear on a range of screens in and around The Blue Room (check out the Cultural centre screen as you make your way to the Theatre). We have also incorporated The Blue Room bar as a performance space, so yes on many levels if feels like a ‘new’ work. (My previous role as a somewhat shadowy presence in the work has also been erased – thankfully)!

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SR. What is personal about the story?
SallyR. For me all creative work is personal to a degree…This work is also inspired by many things, including what is a solo? What is a self-portrait? What is particular to this form, and this solo journey that we all experience…Reflection and  self-reflection are key concepts, as are both physical and psychological notions of re-framing, reviewing, re-membering, and re-visioning..How we move through time and space, both physically and mentally, backwards and forwards (as does the reflective gaze) …It is interesting in the process of re-visiting this work, the theme of re-construction, re-collection, re-covery and review is central. What is retained, what is rejected, what is re-formed…through the journey of performance making, as in life ,there is a constant editing, of the story.  In SB2 as this lone woman moves through landscapes (emotional territories) she recognises herself while also rejecting parts of herself, shedding skins and layers.  The idea of metamorphosis and transformation are central. In this version there is always choice (made by her-self)…and ultimately one arrives at a space where there is release and revelation. It is about the pursuit of self awareness, from an initial self consciousness…a process of moving from who am I? to a claimed space of I am…here present and before you in the immediate now..The interior is made exterior and vise versa through fragmentation, re-fraction, and re-formation..The keynote is the gestural, as motifs recur and return moving from the minutae through to the epic..a moment amplifies and echoes, is refracted and re-framed by repetition. …A solo is always about the performer, and as the dancer’s body is ultimately their own unique voice, Standing Bird 2 is also Jacqui’s. It has been created and framed by her own physicality and dance vocabulary, and so it uniquely hers, and hers alone.

SR. As a movement based performance, how have you (as the Director) worked alongside and in collaboration with Choreographer Danielle Micich?
SallyR. Danielle, Jacqui and I collaborate as a team. We each bring a different element to this creative dialogue, and there is a trust and mutual understanding that comes from having worked with each other over many years. Danielle defines herself as a movement director, and her and Jacqui have now collaborated on a range of projects, so there is an efficiency and clarity to their communication. I am there driving the sense of overarching narrative, intention and through line, and commenting, questioning and adjusting what is generated.  We all know what we want to create, and the outcome we want to achieve, and it has felt very simpatico in this process. It is exciting to be working together with Dank and Jacqui right now, as both in their own way are professionally at the top of their game, and with that there is a confidence and ease, and sense of play in the creative space that is delicious.

SR. What’s great about presenting Standing Bird 2 in The Blue Room Theatre’s season two?
SallyR. The Blue Room Theatre is a fantastic venue and hub for original new work, and it has a strong audience base and great team that support this focus. To be able to present two new dance works (SB2 + Verge) in such an intimate venue is exciting, as we believe this will give the audience a dynamic performance experience, as it is a rare opportunity to view dance in such close proximity.  To also have an almost 3 week season for 2 new contemporary dance works is almost unheard of in Perth, due to high cost of suitable venues. We believe this gives us an opportunity to develop new audiences, and the season duration gives a chance for word of mouth to build, and hopefully we can sell out!!

SR. How did you become a Director?
SallyR.  I wanted to. Practice makes perfect. I am still practicing.

SR. Why do you make work in Perth?
SallyR.  I make work in Perth as it is my home, and the home of my children. I also have some strong ongoing creative relationships here with other artists and collaborators that have developed and grown over many years. We are a dynamic and diverse creative community  and I think we are good at making our own opportunities to showcase our ideas and work. I do enjoy also working in other cities/places, and enjoy the dialogue with other artists from around the country. Living and working in such a remote city as Perth it is essential to travel and see and make work in other environments.

SR.Who do you dream of working with one day?
SallyR. That list is long.

Standing Bird 2 Showing at The Blue Room Theatre
12 – 29 November 2013
The Blue Room Theatre
53 James Street
Perth Cultural Centre
Northbridge WA 6003

Featuring: Jacqui Claus // Director + Concept: Sally Richardson // Movement Director: Danielle Micich // Assistant Director: Katya Shevtsov // Vision Design + Film Production + Editor: Ashley de Prazer // Set + Costume Design: Fiona Bruce // Sound design + Production: Joe Lui + Kingsley Reeve // Lighting Design: Joe Lui // Dramaturg: Humphrey Bower + Sally Richardson


Interview: Ben Taaffe Sound Designer for Reflect

Posted by admin, May 7th, 2013

Ben Taaffe is known around town for co-hosting The Underground Solution program on RTRFM 92.1 and DJing, promoting and partying with the M.O.V.E Foundation for Musical Health and Well-Being. What people don’t really know is that Ben also designs soundscapes for dance. He’s currently working with choreographer Sue Peacock on Reflecta new work showing at The State Theatre Centre of WA Studio Underground until Sat 11 May. 

Interview: Sarah Rowbottam (SR) and Ben Taaffe (BT)

SR. If you were to describe your job to a stranger, what would you say?
BT. Which one!? Juggling multiple jobs / personalities at the moment. With Reflect, I have been designing soundscapes and a musical score for contemporary dance performance.

SR. How did you get into creating sound scores for dance?
BT. I’m a DJ and record collector first and foremost. It grew naturally from there. Friends would ask me to help them find songs to use in their performances or workshops.

SR. What is the difference between mixing a live set at a {MOVE} gig and mixing live music for a dance performance?
BT. Music and sound for dance performance can serve any number of functions. Sometimes it is about complementing, or even shifting, the tone and emotional atmosphere of the work. It can be used to evoke a sense of time or place. Or it can become part of the conceptual substance of a performance.

Music at a {MOVE} party is something quite different. We try to use music as a way of bringing like-minded people together, to create an atmosphere of escape, freedom and celebration where one can connect to others and oneself in a shared physical and emotional experience.

I guess the difference is not so much in the music but in the dancing.

SR. What has been your process for selecting music for Reflect?
BT. It’s been a highly collaborative and intuitive process. Sue Peacock, the choreographer, was already working with some music. I took this as a starting point and tried to build upon her selections, offering alternatives and trialing numerous songs in the studio to see how it shifted or enhanced the work. Something that changed the work or unsettled the feeling of the space was often taken up by Sue with great enthusiasm.

SR. The music in Reflect spans different generations, from Albatros by Fleetwood Mac to The Godfather (for William Basinski and Snoop Dogg) by Klimek and Husak. How do you marry different music so it flows together?
BT. Finding a common thread or a logical connection / progression through the feeling the songs evoke. Sampling pieces and building musical bridges between two contrasting songs is another way.


SR. On a philosophical level, music is one of the strongest triggers for memory. What are your thoughts surrounding the synergy between music and memory?
BT. Some people have suggested that music is as old as language itself, or older – that communicating emotions with our voice and bodies as sound was evolutionally prior to communicating any specific or practical meanings. It makes sense I guess, it is built into us. We remember emotions more powerfully than we do specific experiences or events I think. Music can certainly be a part of this process, even new music that you have not ever heard before.

SR. Do you remember the first music artist you listened to?
BT. No, but I have very strong memories of listening to Paul Simon’s Graceland Album and The Travelling Wilburys turned up very loud in the family car as my dad sang along. I must have been four or five at the time.

SR. Is there a point in the performance that sparks a distinct memory or feeling for you?
BT. No nothing distinct, but plenty of vaguely familiar feelings that allow the mind to wonder backwards.

SR. How would you describe what memory sounds like?
BT. I wouldn’t.

SR. Through your work with {MOVE}, you’ve brought over some pretty great artists. Ghostpoet, Flying Lotus and TOKiMONSTA to name few. If you could bring any music artist to Perth, who would it be?
BT. Right now, probably Sir David Rodigan…

Ben Taaffe is the Sound Designer for Reflect 3 – 11 May 2013 at the State Theatre Centre of WA Studio Underground.
Click here for tickets and info

 


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Storm Helmore: Task, focus, reflect

Posted by admin, May 1st, 2013

Words: Storm Helmore, Reflect performer

Over the past few weeks we have had the pleasure of working with Bill Handley as part of the lead up to performances. His focus is on focus – where do we look when we perform? Why do we choose to look there, if we chose to at all? How does our eye focus affect the performance; both our experience of it and that of the audience? And how do we, as performers, confidently take on the task of decision makers in this aspect of the work.

We begin with restriction. Our first direction from Bill is to walk through the beginning of the work, at all times keeping our eye focus low, at about 45 degrees down towards the floor. This immediately goes against our performative instinct of directing our focus outwards, towards the audience, and proves to be quite a difficult task. The mood shifts, I feel sad, sombre and more serious than usual. At the same time I am anxious at having to resist the urge to look up, open up, to the (not yet there) audience. But then, a tiny bit of comfort sneaks in; I enjoy this section of dancing more when I don’t have to look up, I realise that my focus is always down in that moment, or actually, this just feels right. Then I relax my focus, I loosen the fixed, intense gaze I just noticed I had, and begin to explore the room at 45 degrees. There is definite relief upon finishing this task though – I can look at my cast mates again, can connect with them, am able take in the whole room, not just the floor and the chairs – the sadness and seriousness that I felt during the task begin to subside. I wasn’t the only one that experienced this shift in mood. And this is nothing compared to when we revisit this idea in a few days time.

This task repeated, but in a different section of the work. I am almost crying at one stage then I get so angry my jaw hurts from clenching.  Bill asks us how it felt. I reply that I wanted to shoot somebody. Sue says slyly, that’s how you should feel by the end of that section… Now how to bottle that feeling, and the movement quality that came with it, and recapture it (perhaps not so intensely) next time? Bill seems genuinely excited that we all felt angry and/or sad during this task, and he asks us next time, to make room for the emotions that arise. Make room for them instead of resisting them. Life lessons learnt in the studio.

Here are a few more of those lessons which have taken me by surprise or have been reinforced during this process…

Filling someone else’s shoes is hard work, but making yourself comfortable in them so you can walk your walk (or in this case, dance your dance) is another thing altogether.

Take time to notice what you notice. More and more detail will be revealed to you.

Your time is precious – not only to you but also to the people in your life.

By restricting our options every now and again, a wealth of opportunities can be revealed.

Simple changes may result in huge shifts.

Sometimes what you think you are doing, is not what others perceive you to be doing.

Being surrounded by amazing people can only be good for you. Surely we absorb awesomeness from others by osmosis if we stand close enough right?!

It is hard to stay sad or angry when you are laughing.

Storm Helmore will perform in Reflect from 3 – 11 May 2013 at the State Theatre Centre of WA Studio Underground.
Click here for tickets and info

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Storm grew up dancing in country Queensland before moving to Brisbane to undertake a Bachelor of Science degree. At the completion of her degree, Storm returned to dancing and was soon performing and teaching regularly in Brisbane, mainly in hip hop styles. In 2008, she successfully auditioned for a place in the Bachelor of Arts (Dance) degree at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) and made the move to Perth. Storm completed her training at WAAPA in 2011, having had the opportunity to perform in works by Dean Walsh, Matthew Morris, Sue Peacock and Xiao Xiong Zhang during the three years of training. Since graduating, Storm has worked on creative development processes for Sue Peacock, Rachel Ogle and Isabella StoneShe has performed as a dancer in West Australian Opera’s production of The Pearl Fishers, alongside French company Les Commandos Percu for the opening event of the Perth International Arts Festival 2013 and in Sam Fox’s workPersonal Political Physical Challenge at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne.