We caught up with Ahilan Ratnamohan while he was in Perth last month working with Warnbro Community High School as part of PICA’s Spark_Lab program. His show SDS1, toured by Performing Lines for Mobile States, opens this month at PICA so we thought we would do a little catch up!
Quick introduction. Ahil has spent the last six years developing a unique style of sport-in-performance drawing from his experience as a semi-professional football player. He blurs the lines between football and dance, working with footballers to create live shows performed in an arts venue.
While on tour in Australia, Ahil has been facilitating a series of community engagement workshops encouraging footballers/sportspeople, performers and non-performers to get moving! Ahil uses football as language and helps kids improve their communication skills and ball techniques whilst creating individual and group choreography. He tailors these workshops to specifically respond to the group he is working with and in relation to their community background.
The North Melbourne Football Club’s community engagement arm The Huddle invited Ahil to spend some time teaching new migrant and refugee kids some new tricks. Check out the snapshots below!
On his recent trip to PICA’s Spark_Lab partner school Warnbro Community High School, Ahil ran workshops with years 9 – 12 as part of an initiative to engage with the local community. In this interactive workshop, he challenged students to explore definitions of football and dance to create individual and group performances. Check out the photos below!
Following on from his initial engagements with Warnbro, Ahil will be running workshops with a selection of Warnbro students in late September. Ahil will help them work on extending and developing their movement/dance knowledge and skills. They will also get to see Ahil perform SDS1 at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre.
SDS1 is driven by intense movement with a focus on exploring football as an art form and the intense physicality of the game.
“In creating SDS1 I set out to challenge myself and the football-dance-theatre I had been creating. My first two shows The Football Diaries and Michael Essien I want to play as you… had relied on text to drive the pieces, I wanted to make a piece which was driven by the movement.While I had already been working with common football movements, I wanted to push these further into an abstract terrain, re-contextualizing them as contemporary dance. I hope that by using this movement vocabulary the piece will access a new audience, to whom these movements are familiar, even if the theatre is not. “
Ahil spent time at Carriageworks in Redfern redeveloping the show with acclaimed performance makers Branch Nebula ahead of the national tour. The show is fast-paced, stripped back and we can’t wait to see it!
It is with great regret that we announce yourseven by James Berlyn will not go ahead as scheduled in October this year due to the cancellation of the remainder of the Perth Theatre Company 2015 season.
Any ticket holders for the show will be fully refunded for their purchase. Please contact Ticketek Australia on 1300 795 012 to arrange a full refund. We will be in touch with all supporters and stakeholders of the project and thank them again for their support.
We wish all the best to Perth Theatre Company during this difficult time, and look forward to working with them again in the future.
Keen to get an insight into pitching, touring and community engagement?
CircuitWest are offering a limited number of discounted spots for independent artists and producers to attend the WA Showcase – Playing The State, to be held at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre on 14 & 15 May 2015.
Hear about community engagement from visited US expert Joel Tan, see pitches and encounter sessions from a range of WA companies and independent artists, and meet the presenters, programmers and producers that help make it all happen.
Normally $230 for the two-day registration, you can attend both days for $100 or one day for $50. You also have the option to attend the conference dinner on Thursday 14 May for an extra $50. Registrations must close this coming Monday 4 May.
The biennial Australian Theatre Forum has wrapped for 2015! Held in Sydney at the Seymour Centre, the Forum brought together artists and arts workers from independent, small-to-medium and major companies for debate, dialogue and diatribe about the current state of theatre in Australia.
Fiona was in attendance, as were a number of our core artists. Rather than a run-through of the event, we thought we’d list some of the key issues, ideas or actions that Fiona, Danielle Micich (who was also wearing her shiny new AD’s hat) and Sally Richardson took away from the gathering.
Fiona de Garis | Senior Producer – Performing Lines WA
I loved the official reminder at ATF2015 to talk to people we didn’t know – to be open to the random conversations. As always, these were some of the best I had at the Forum.
I loved hearing about the emerging practice and artistic preoccupations of young Victorian artist Brienna Macnish. I found common ground in a long conversation with Rose Godde from Platform Youth Theatre who is doing the hard yards in regional and community engagement. When I met Nick Byrne, I wondered why it had never occurred to me before that long-form theatre based improvisation must exist in the same diversity of practice as it does in dance.
Sharing personal stories folded me into what became my overarching narrative of ATF2015 – the lineage of theatre making in this country and the place/space we find ourselves in now. The themes of a series of passionate, personal, political and historical keynotes by Rachael Maza (see the video below), Richard Frankland and Rhoda Roberts gradually wound themselves through my days; connecting to the voices of artists discussing access and ownership of story in a ‘mapping disability and inclusive arts practice’ breakout, to conversation with elders such as Uncle Jack Charles and Sue Rider and the Auslan translators whose omnipresence illustrated the usual absence of Deaf perspectives in our gatherings. I came away reassured that we all have our own thin line in the story of Australian theatre making – myself included.
I’m reminded that I can choose the direction of my efforts. If theatre is a medium through which we can effect real change there is plenty of work left to do in this country – I better get on with my share of it.
Danielle Micich | Incoming Artistic Director – Force Majeure & Performing Lines WA Core Artist
Rules of Engagement at the ATF
Listen – Of the many discussions I attended, the highlight was Richard J. Frankland. The depth of this passionate artist was clear; you heard what makes Richard tick and his positive plans for the future of making theatre in Australia. The most interesting panel discussion for me was The Philosophy of Philanthropy, discussing vision, values and legacy with Este Darin-Cooper, Phillip Keir and Andrew Leece. Sometimes it is good to know and understand more about how and why people give. Participate – I would have loved to have participated in the pre-discussions that each panel had with their facilitator. I felt like there may have been more to be gained from the process of setting up of the panel than the planned conversations. Talk to strangers – This I was good at. Starting many good conversations in the foyer leading me to understand the breadth of people working across the country, especially regionally.
Sally Richardson | Steamworks Arts, Yirra Yaaking Theatre Company & Performing Lines WA Core Artist
It is the conversations at the edges. It is a momentary sense of a community and connection, it is collective listening and it is a chance to speak up. You follow your own line of interest and discovery in sessions where some voices are louder than others, and some voices are more privileged than others.
There is a space created for those who share their insights from the past, these sessions are quieter, their numbers low. There is a space created for independents and emerging and the diverse, and these overflow. What does and does not have cultural currency, immediacy and relevancy? ATF votes with its feet. There are missing faces and spaces; circus and hybrid, with an underlying and implicit focus on a certain form and style of theatre. WA feels and is a long way away from Sydney, and as a representative in a panel discussion on “smashing the silos”.
I am reminded that there are also a silo that is geographical. We still struggle as a community to share the space, and to find a collective voice that may have a real chance to lobby politically. Many millions of dollars have been slashed from the Australia Council for small to medium companies and from individual artists, with state governments struggling to maintain current levels of funding. Yes, the theatrical landscape is going to change, and the contraction and pressure upon resources it is only just beginning.
As the final keynote by Frie Leyson offered as provocation: Are we too afraid to really speak out? Making the ‘mistake’ of trying to please everyone rather than challenge? She invited the audience to shift their focus.
“We urgently need the courage back to pick up this role of disturbers again…We must urgently find our artistic language and artistic arguments again.”
In the post-final keynote glow I stand drink in hand in the Northern foyer of the Sydney Opera House, gazing out at the iconic Bridge, as delegates snap away, thrilled to be in this elite venue of Oz Arts, while contemplating rebellion and the call for action…
Follow the debate online: http://www.australiantheatreforum.com.au/atf-2015/documentation/ or #ATF2015
Bryony Kimmings was the hands-down favourite at the inaugural Festival Of Live Art (FOLA) in Melbourne last year with two shows, Sex Idiot and Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model, totally selling out and winning over hearts and minds across the city. Using theatre, performance and a healthy dose of humour to tackle serious social issues including sexual health, depression and the sexualisation of children, Kimmings is a force to be reckoned with, and is heading to Fringe World with a new show Fake It Til You Make It, and the return of Sex Idiot.
TS: Oh hi! I’m a bit of a fanboy and am super-excited we finally get to see your shows in Perth!Can you give us a brief rundown of each? BK: Fake It til You Make It: It’s a new show. Made just this year and premiering in Perth (whoop!). It is a collaboration between myself and my lovely fiancé Tim, who up until 3 months ago worked in advertising. It’s a show about clinical depression, love, relationships and the idea of “being a man”. Its funny but also very sad and it follows our journey through the past few years. It will connect with a LOT of people, yet mental illness remains a taboo! Sex Idiot: So this is a vintage show of mine, created all the way back in 2010, from a very different era of my life. It’s a show full of songs, poems, dancing and larking about with the audience and follows the story of when I found out I had an STI/STD and had never had a sexual health text before… the show is the story of the journey I took trying to find out who gave it to me!
TS: How do you describe the work that you make? BK: I generally get very angry about something that I find unjust, sad or just plain dumb about the world and my gut reaction is always “we must DO something about this fellow humans!” My main skill is theatre and art… so that doesn’t always naturally lend itself to changing the minds of everyone, or creating a viral movement as its naturally quite niche. So I generally do a very live social experiment, set out to change something big, often through the press or harnessing people power and then make a show about it.
TS: Your shows deal with pervasive social stigmas and the various effects they have on the individual and broader society. How do you go about tackling such thorny issues? BK: I just try my best to be honest and knowledgeable. I go through a process, I get mad, I get smart, I get honest. People cannot mock you or call you out for being a fake if you are generally moved by the need to do something and you are trying your best to do it. Also I make it palatable. I will make sure we have a lot of fun first. Like fall in love with each other as a performer and audience member and then BAM! Smash you in the gut with the hard stuff. Not to make you feel bad but just to make you WANT to do something about it to. Its recruitment in a flamboyant and fun way! Ha!
TS: What is the general reaction to your shows? Do you ever feel the need to mitigate the risk involved, or do you just go for it and let the audience have it? BK: I just always go for it. There has been a few occasions in my life where the material and the concept for the show was just NOT a good match for the audience. This is usually less my fault and more the fault of the people who book me. I have performed Sex Idiot in front of a very religious group in Zagreb, Croatia. There is a bit in the show when they are asked to donate pubic hair… that did NOT go down well. I always let them have it though, that’s my job. I am a professional, I am happy to have a row about what it was people didn’t like after but for me the job I am doing is soothsayer… jester. I must say what I feel because there are so many destructive crazy weirdos doing harm to the world and without the antidote we are all screwed.
TS: This isn’t the first time you’ve worked with a loved one – both Fake It… and Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model feature some nearest and dearest. Is working with someone you know so well a help or hindrance in the rehearsal room? Are there no-go zones or topics when working? BK: It’s just lovely to work with people you love. I had no plans to work with a non-performer again straight away but the Taylor project was so good, Tim’s story was so strong and I desperately wanted to tell it so it happened again. Next I am making a musical and then a project with 10 young men just out of prison who will again be totally different to work with. I pick the form that suits the subject with the cast that makes most sense. If I am going to make a show that talks about how crazy it is that we don’t allow our men and boys to talk about depression, then in that show there has to be an example of what that conversation could look like if we stopped silencing mental illness and started to celebrate it. He had to be in there. It’s a labour of love and a joy!
Fake It Til You Make It | Presented by The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights and Theatre Works in association with PICA
Mandurah Performing Arts Centre | 30 – 31 Jan
PICA Performing Space | 3 – 7 Feb Tickets/info>>
Sex Idiot | Presented by Theatre Works
Circus Theatre | 29 Jan – 1 Feb Tickets/info>>
Performing Lines WA delivers the Managing and Producing Services for theatre and dance artists in WA (Maps for Artists), which is a joint initiative of the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Government’s art funding and advisory body, and the State of Western Australia through the Department of Culture and the Arts.