on now, Review

REVIEW: The Line

Review | Amanda Lancaster

Cuts leave scars, scars leave tracks, tracks can be followed.

Shadow Lines; Stephen Kinnane

Kinnane writes of the lines and boundaries created and imposed upon society, how the definitions of these niche areas in physicality and social structure can be of such an inflexible and narrowly definitive nature around us that they in turn create echos and ripples within us which is what Kinnane calls shadow lines.

Shadow lines are the places within our own minds that hold certain beliefs and make up our own sense of self and belonging or alienation. These are the area’s of negotiation, cognitive understanding and connectivity the lines we draw, cross, follow or erase throughout our history stories and lives.

Co3 has taken on the bold and heady task of putting some of Kinnane’s philosophical ideologies about lines and boundaries, how they are created, changed and altered not just in a sense of the physical or geographical but also our very base thought function an interactive systems as human beings.

The Line tells of the often forgotten, unspoken and unfortunate period in WA’s historical background that saw a geographical segregation line on a map cause a traumatic long standing shadow line of oppression drawn between colonising parties of the time and the Nyungar people of Perth.

Created by Co3 founding director and one of the foremost professionals in the field of dance to date Raewyn Hill and associate artist and co-director the Award winning Mark Howett it’s not hard to see why The Line is getting rave reviews from audiences.

Featuring an almost skeleton cast for such a huge topic the show features just a trio of – as always – exquisitely talented dancers. Nyungar dancer and guest artist Ian Wilkes, CO3 founding dancer and guest artist Andrew Searle and last but not least Co3 founding dancer and artist Katherine Gurr. Alongside and also interspersed quite literally at times during the shows performance The Line also stars the renowned musical artists classical-accordionist James Crabb and composer/musical director Eden Mulholland.

The performance is a dense textured layering of haunting melancholy and sadness which is at times quite palpable to the point of bringing audience members to literal tears. This serious vibe and often unrelenting mood of tension is beautifully handled. The music, lighting, movement and everything that has bought the audience so powerfully up to a single moment of what feels like almost breaking point is then cleverly broken up at repetitive intervals with an almost black humoured slapstick violence and humour akin to that of a vaudevillian shows aesthetic and then just as suddenly bought to a halting stop.

Cue the slow motion, silent, screaming, nightmarish, captured realism of violence and trauma played out with such aesthetic beauty and grace of movement that one might be forgiven the momentary lapse that this is all stemming from our actual historical and cultural make up.

The use of minimalist setting design is both beautiful in look and almost eerie in feel, a hand full of unadorned chain link swing sets hang and sway gently seemingly by themselves from the rafters, condensed lighting barely shines down in narrow pyramids and lines. The choices one assume are made to further heighten the segregated elements between light and dark and does so with subtle elegance.

Contemporary dance for some may be hard to understand to define what is happening within the narrative flow, however Co3 have once again taken an often hard to swallow topic and laid it out for the world to see.

It is important I think to mention that Co3 have beautifully taken the philosophical inspiration of Kinnane’s work, the delicate subject matter of our Australian history and amalgamated the elements of this show, not to show u something concrete, not to tell you what to think or feel and not to define this moment in our cultural background with their own line of understanding but to ask the audience to perhaps consider where they draw their own lines from now on.

Whatever you do, do not miss this thought provoking heart aching performance.

WHEN: 16th – 19th May 2019 | 7:30pm & 4:00pm

WHERE:  Heath Ledger Theatre | State Theatre Centre of WA

INFO: Tickets $55 | Duration 60 mins | DANCE

LINK: https://co3.org.au/program/the-line-2019/

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on now, Review

REVIEW: Cracked

Review | Amanda Lancaster

Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company is company closely involved in the representation and development of artists and the performing arts alike with a close focus on indigenous storytelling, cultural representations and opportunities for up and coming performers. They work hand in hand with some of the best seasoned playwrights and scripted works, which means that this company continues to offer some of the most powerful viewing you are likely to have the privilege of ever experiencing. It is with little to no wonder that the company’s latest offering Cracked is getting rave reviews.

Cracked is a self professed 90 minutes of complexity. It’s filled with the aptly all too realistic plight of not only the judicial system’s successes and failures but also that of our mental health and substance abuse systems, whilst being bitterly disenfranchised, utterly heart wrenching and humourless at the same time. Follow along with Frankie and the small intimate cast as they so beautifully and tacitly demonstrate the non stop pitfalls of basically being human.

Written by Barbara Hostalek  – coming off her first play Banned which sold out two seasons at the Blue Room Theatre – and starring Bobbi Henry, Bruce Denny, Holly Jones, Luke Hewitt, Matthew Cooper and Rayma Morrison, it is impossible to say too much about the details of the performance itself without giving any of its very important powerfully layered build up and narrative flow so forgive my unwillingness to disclose more in depth for fear of it being too much, however I will say that the minimal and malleable sets work exquisitely, the venue is superb and that it is impossible not to fall in love with or in pieces over absolutely every single character in Cracked.

Whatever you do make sure this show is on your must see list for the year and everyone elses for that matter.

For a company whose chosen Noongar name Yirra Yaakin means to stand tall, the company certainly always manage to keep a tight grip on the audience’s heart strings and conscience and have you all thinking about just how desperately hard that can sometimes be to manage.

WHEN: 14th – 18th May 2019 | 7:30pm

WHERE: Subiaco Arts Centre | Subiaco

INFO: Tickets $50 | Duration 90 mins | MA15+

LINK: https://yirrayaakin.com.au/production/cracked/

Interview, on now

IN CONVERSATION: Doubling up with Clare Testoni

Interview | Laura Money

The Double is a brilliant new work devised by an intelligent team of young theatre makers from Bow & Dagger. Lead creative, Clare Testoni admits that the play definitely asks more questions than it answers, but that’s the beauty of the work. We chatted to Testoni about how the work was devised and what some of the challenges have been in mounting the show.

It’s a very technologically based work. Testoni explains that it’s part of what how her practice has been going, working with cameras and technology.

Last year I worked on The Second Woman and Le Nor which used live filming. So you know, there’s something in the air but I also realised it’s where my skill set comes from – I make shadow puppetry and shadows and projections are very interlinked.

You know shadow puppetry is quite cinematic. So to use technology was just a natural progression

Testoni’s previous works with Bow & Dagger – The Beast and the Bride and Tale of Tales – explore folk stories and the cultivation of mythology through delightful and intricate shadow puppetry projections. In The Double, Testoni

wanted to tell this story about a girl and the devil and [was] engaging with ideas of doppelgangers and the uncanny. I really wanted to address some of the ways that the uncanny and new technologies interconnect.

One of the interesting aspects of the show is the use of the technology that is being not so much criticised as contemplated. “I just wanted to use the technology we’re talking about. I think it’s useful to talk about social media but it’s [also] the idea that we we sort of condemn social media but we also need it!”

Of course when we think about artificial intelligence and service robots we often assume that they are non-gendered. It’s when women’s bodies are being replicated that a whole new discourse emerges.

To me that’s just an extra layer of complication for when a woman is replicated because you deal with the objectificationOne of my anxieties about technology is the way in which it’s being built predominantly by men and they are predominantly making service bots.

Men have always been using language surrounding services to be feminised. And tech writers who follow this more closely. And the white people.

We also have to be careful how people talk to their technology. The thing is that you can have a male voice, like Google released that, you know for Siri but people much prefer the female voices – yelling at the women telling them he wrong direction. And telling her to shut up. People feel comfortable doing that to a female voice.

But also they had to program in all these disengagement protocols around sexual harassment. So Google and Siri and Alexa all have very careful disengagement if you ask. Have you got a boyfriend? So what are you wearing? They make jokes so you laugh it off.

And it’s very much the kind of behaviour I do when I’m harrassed. Because you sort of disengage, don’t you? You sort of feel like “Oh did you really say that?” Your reaction is to laugh. You’re going to make a joke.

It’s as if these robots are being programmed to be polite in the way that we are socialised as women. Testoni goes on to explain her fascination with the doppelganger effect and Faustian pacts.

Stay tuned for the second half of our conversation!

 

WHEN: 23 April – 11 May 2019 | 7pm & 5pm

WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre | Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $20 – $30 | Duration 70 mins | Suitable 16+

LINK: https://blueroom.org.au/events/the-double/

 

 

 

 

 

 

on now, Review

REVIEW: Death Throes

Review | Laura Money

This review doesn’t have a beginning, middle or end. It simply serves as a statement about how this piece of art – Death Throes is made and how it achieves its outcome. Combining the creative talents of Joe Lui, Julia Croft and Harriet Gillies, Death Throes challenges the concept of power structures in language, hierarchies, capitalism and more. It dissolves the myths we keep perpetuating and reclaims language for those at the bottom of the totem pole. It’s post truth, post myth, and most certainly post language.

The only way to truly escape language as a power structure is to step away from what is generally considered a way to tell a story – clear arc, narrative and plot, characters with dialogue that has been carefully constructed. There are many ways in which theatre can challenge this, but it still remains in use. Lui, Croft and Gillies corrupt the language at play here by not using it. By becoming physical beings and expressing themselves through their bodies with visceral physicality – every grunt, breath, pant – becomes a new rhythm and language. They literally carve out a space for themselves on the stage – running endlessly in a controlled chaos that feels warm – the gold clothing and soft buttery light pulses about them as a dance track builds the tension.

There are darkly humorous moments – from Gillies munching away at KFC during a panel discussion on capitalism and language, to Crofts’ deadpan delivery, every moment carries a binary of hilarity and potential depression. House lights begin up during a panel – like Q&A and the audience feels just as scrutinised and involved as the performers – Death Throes intially invites a discourse about mythologies yet slowly allows the lights to dim and the power to be given back to the performer. Light is power on this stage. From wielding lights and searching through a haze, to literally expanding the horizon of clouds projected onto the performers in a way that references sexual awakening and ‘The Neverending Story’ (just me?!) the way that certain topics are given weight through enlightenment is a brilliantly codified language that I, for one, can happily get on board with.

There is whimsy. There is pain. There are highly emotional and animalistic moments of exhaustion. If you don’t feel any of these things, did you even go and see Death Throes? Remember – language is only as important as you make it. Why not order in a little corruption and take back some control?

 

WHEN: 30 April – 18 May | 7:00pm & 8:30pm

WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre | Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $20 – $30 | Duration 70 mins | Warnings: Coarse Language, Thick Smoke/Haze, Flashing Lights | Wheelchair accessible | Recommended 15+

LINK: https://blueroom.org.au/events/death-throes/

on now, Review

REVIEW: The Double

Review | Laura Money

How do you define your identity? Is it what you look like? That’s hardly a tangible thing as it changes over the years. Is it what you sound like? Is your image and your ‘brand’ connected to your soul and your inner you? Bow & Dagger seek to raise these questions in their brilliant new work, The Double. Devised by an intelligent team of young theatre makers, headed by lead creative, Clare Testoni, the play definitely asks more questions than it answers, but that’s the beauty of the work – it gets people thinking…and soul searching!

Duality is at play here, from the literal doubling of characters – multiple actors performing as the same characters, to doubling of facial identities – the use of cutting-edge technology to add facial filters to moving images is remarkable. The plot seems to be the only simple thing about this work – an actor sells her image (and her essence) to a software company that uses the image for a Siri-like service – but one that is more of a ‘bot’. As time goes on, she finds herself becoming less and less and the image of her gains momentum. All of her relationships are complicated – especially that with her boyfriend, and in the end the selling of her image has terrifying consequences.

Every single element of the show is meticulously executed. There is nothing accidental – from “The Picture of Dorian Grey” on the bookshelf, to cartoons about spawning superheroes, and stories from folklore involving selling shadows or making Faustian pacts. Despite the sterile white environment, there is an undercurrent of the Gothic being drawn upon here. With so many stories about doppelgangers but not many involving women’s bodies, the team at Bow & Dagger unearth some pretty disturbing cultural themes when feminising technology. How does technology change when it is applied to a female body, as opposed to a male? One of the first pieces of bootleg software to develop after launching Victoria’s image is augmented versions – ie, larger breasts, blonde hair filters, language that is more subservient. This goes beyond disturbing when one thinks about the way female bodies are usually objectified and how non-gendered technology either takes on a feminised or masculine positions. (Plot twist: it’s always the service machines that are feminised.)

The actors switch between being physically on stage in front of the audience to being filmed in real-time using augmented reality filters. The screen is projected onto the wall above the main space but the actors are still visible filming their segment to the side of the stage. This is another layer of duality that explores the role of screens and filters in gendered identity – the team are reclaiming a medium that is traditionally objectifying and highlighting the double standards for men and women in society. The Double is a brilliantly intelligent work. It is confronting and terrifying at times, as Victoria (and the three women playing her) struggles to retain who she is. Phoebe Sullivan, Amanda Watson and Michelle Aitken are all brilliant performers – they each bring something different to all of the roles – as each performer embodies all of the characters at one time or another, it begs the question: what is the essence of each character? What are their defining characteristics, and can multiple people express them in a way that defines them?

As stated above, The Double is very clever. It’s the kind of work you should go to if you are worried about inequity, feel disconcerted by technology but also want to embrace it. The team at Bow & Dagger have done just that – used the very technology they are unsure about, and therein lies its genius. It’s one thing to observe these trends, and another to do something about it. The Double takes some of the power away from the cis white men who write the programming and gives a voice back to women and the language and power structures at play. And that’s amazing.

 

WHEN: 23 April – 11 May 2019 | 7pm & 5pm

WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre | Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $20 – $30 | Duration 70 mins | Suitable 16+

LINK: https://blueroom.org.au/events/the-double/