A woman dancing. She takes a deep lunge, tango style
News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

A one-woman weaving

Review: Suzanne Ingelbrecht, PRESENTES! ·
Minnawarra Chapel, Armadale, November 28 ·
Review by Xan Ashbury ·

Like millions around the world in 1987, I listened to U2’s Joshua Tree on repeat. And its final track, the hauntingly beautiful and desperately sad “Mothers of the Disappeared” grabbed me by the throat (and led me to my school’s Amnesty group). A hymn to human rights, the song refers to the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, a group of women whose children had “forcibly disappeared” at the hands of the Argentine and Chilean dictatorships.

The mothers’ heart-breaking plight is a central thread in Suzanne Ingelbrecht’s one-woman play. Written and performed by Ingelbrecht, and directed by Igor Sas,  PRESENTES! weaves song, dance, film and storytelling to relay her physical and psychological journey through South America.

“Presentes” is Spanish for “here” or “present”. The mothers (now grandmothers) march every Thursday, 40 years after their children were taken off the streets. Their presence, their visibility, has spurred the ongoing search for truth and justice.

Footage from the weekly march and portraits of the disappeared, etched into glass at a memorial, are projected on a screen at the back of the stage (the work of filmmakers Belinda Thomas and Tina Aliedani).

A woman smiling, standing in front of a projection of film footage of women at a protest.
‘PRESENTES!’ weaves song, dance, film and storytelling to relay Suzanne Ingelbrecht’s physical and psychological journey through South America. Photo: Organic Productions.

Ingelbrecht also uses the word “presentes” to represent her own refusal “to go quietly into invisibility, shuffling off this mortal coil with an apologetic look back over my shoulder”. In 2016, she travelled from Buenos Aires, across the Andes to Chile, back to Argentina and down to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego.

One of the most dramatic episodes re-enacted during the show is a trek through ice and 80km/hour winds in Patagonia. I enjoyed the suspenseful story of a hairy bus ride a on dodgy road and the tale of a poignant encounter with a masked Airbnb host.

Ingelbrecht says she undertook the epic trip to connect with her childhood fantasies, stirred by her father’s fascination for the Incas and Andes. Vignettes about her relationship with her dad form a key part of the play. One relating to dashed expectations at a swimming carnival is particularly moving.

Less successful, for me, are the stories about the fraught relationship with her travelling companion, Sarah. Some jokes landed (such as Sarah’s criticism, over breakfast in Chile, of Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize). But I found Ingelbrecht’s unflattering imitations of her frenemy mean spirited; an airing of dirty laundry. Why do some friends “disappear from your life”, she asks. Linking the women’s “breakup” to the disappearance theme also seemed distasteful, given the seemingly petty nature of the women’s dispute and the unspeakable tragedy faced by the mothers of the disappeared.

The tango, which embraces both passion and cruelty, becomes an effective motif in the show and fabulous footage of a social tango dance evokes a sense of place.

Ingelbrecht is a multi-skilled performer. My favourite scenes in PRESENTES! comprise Ingelbrecht dancing by herself, with just a chair on stage, to piano accordion music composed and played by Cathie Travers (choreography by Li-anne Carroll).

“PRESENTES!” will be performed again outside the Artists’ Retail Collective (ARC) Building in Jull Street Mall, Armadale on Thursday, December 13 at 8pm.

Pictured top is Suzanne Ingelbrecht in “PRESENTES!” Photo: Organic Productions.

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Fully Sikh
Calendar, October 19, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: Fully Sikh

10 – 27 October @ The State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Presented by Black Swan State Theatre Company
and Barking Gecko Theatre Company ·

Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa shot to fame in Australia and around the world
with her poetry on Australia’s Got Talent. But before she went viral,
Sukhjit was a brown, hairy Sikh girl growing up in the suburbs of Perth.
Fully Sikh is her story. The show is a hilarious and heartfelt poetic
procession through Sukhjit’s life, her family and her faith, all told
with her trademark lyrical flow. Fully Sikh will be a sensory feast for
audiences, full of music, dance, poetry and food. As the first Aussie
Sikh story to hit our stages, this is unique and unmissable.

Suitability: 12+

Book via www.bsstc.com.au

More info:

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Black is the New White
Calendar, Performing arts, September 19, Theatre

Theatre: Black is the New White

11 – 22 September @ The State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Black Swan presents A Sydney Theatre Company Production ·

Black is The New White by Nakkiah Lui

Prepare to be enthralled by a razor sharp romantic comedy that blends
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with Meet the Fockers. At the centre is
Charlotte Gibson, a lawyer with a brilliant career ahead of her. As her
father Ray says, she could be the next female Indigenous Waleed Aly.
But she has other ideas. First of all, it’s Christmas. Second of
all, she’s in love. The thing is, her fiancé, Francis Smith, is not
what her family expected – he’s unemployed, he’s an experimental composer
… and he’s white! Inviting him and his conservative parents to Christmas
is a bold move that has all sorts of unintended consequences.

Adult themes, nudity
Suitability: 16+

Book via www.bsstc.com.au 

More info:

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August 19, Calendar, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: Medea

8 – 25 August @ The State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Presented by Black Swan State Theatre Company &
WA Youth Theatre Company ·

This new adaptation of Medea, co-written by Anne Sarks and WA’s
own Kate Mulvany, puts one of history’s most notorious family
breakdowns under the microscope. Locked in their bedroom, two
brothers play games to pass the time, as siblings do. Off-stage,
their parents are having a very famous showdown. At an inevitable
moment, the children will be drawn away from their games and into
their parents’ bitter argument. From there, they will enter
mythology as the most tragic siblings of all time.

Adult themes

Book via  www.bsstc.com.au

More info:


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The Torrents
Calendar, June 19, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: The Torrents

15 – 30 June @ The State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Presented by Black Swan State Theatre Company & Sydney Theatre Company ·

t’s the 1890s in the Goldfelds. J.G. Milford has hopped off the train
in the small town of Koolgalla to take on a job at the local paper.
She’s smart, she’s savvy, she’s incredibly qualified, but nobody knew
the J stood for Jenny! Oriel Gray’s The Torrents is a newsroom comedy
that rivals George Bernard Shaw. Jenny’s arrival coincides with a
trailblazing engineer’s outrageous idea to bring irrigation to the
community and debate rages about whether the town should give up
mining for a more sustainable economic future.

Adult themes: Suitability 12+

Book via www.bsstc.com.au

More info:


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BItch on Heat
Calendar, Fringe World, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: Bitch on Heat

5 – 9 February @ The Blue Room ·
Presented by The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights
& Leah Shelton ·

Love latex and hate the patriarchy? Pour a drink, ditch the leash,
and come revel in this twisted rehashing of the vintage sexism that
drives how we live and love and fight and f*ck.

Absurdist lip-synch meets high-camp performance art in this pop-fuelled
critique of sexual politics in the age of implied consent. Nothing is
sacred as psycho-siren Leah Shelton trawls through a Pandora’s box of
ancient myths, porn, pop-culture, instructional records and revenge
movie heroines.

Welcome to the doghouse. Beware. This Bitch bites.

Created by Leah Shelton (Terror Australis, La Clique) and directed
by UK performance art royalty Ursula Martinez.

“no answers, just a full set of can’t-tear-your-eyes-away provocations” (NHIB)

More info:

Bitch on Heat, credit Sarah Walker

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Calendar, May 19, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: Water

9 – 26 May @ State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Presented by Black Swan State Theatre Company ·

Water by Jane Bodie begins in Western Australia in the
not-too-distant future, where we meet with a once powerful
politician about to celebrate his birthday at the family’s
island home – a retreat from the world that has clearly seen
better days. There’s no water in the taps, there are no birds
in the sky and to top it off, an unexpected guest arrives for dinner.

WARNING: Adult themes

Book via www.bsstc.com.au

More info:

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You Know We Belong Together
Calendar, March 19, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: You Know We Belong Together

20 – 31 March @ State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Presented by Black Swan Theatre, Perth Festival & DADAA ·

You Know We Belong Together by Julia Hales with Finn O’Branagáin
and Clare Watson

Following the sold-out success of the 2018 world premiere of
You Know We Belong Together, we are thrilled to present an encore
season of this joyful celebration of community spirit.

You Know We Belong Together is a story of love; that force of nature
that strikes like lightning into our hearts. Family, friends and
lovers are all part of Julia Hales’ deeply personal account of her
experiences as a daughter, actor, dreamer and person with Down syndrome.
She brings with her the voices and aspirations of a community rarely
seen on stage in an uplifting performance with video, dance and song.

Book via www.bsstc.com.au

More info:


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Our Town
Calendar, February 18, Performing arts, Perth Festival, Theatre

Theatre: Our Town

8 – 23 February @ State Theatre Centre Courtyard ·
Presented by Black Swan Theatre ·

Black Swan Production presented as part of Perth Festival

Our Town by Thornton Wilder

A Pulitzer prize-winning American drama and one of a kind theatre
event that speaks to us on the urgent necessity of living in the
here and now. The fictional town of Grover’s Corner is brought to
life, along with the town’s inhabitants as if they were our very
own neighbours.

WARNING: Adult themes

Book via  www.bsstc.com.au/

More info:

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Text Roulette
Calendar, Fringe World, Performance art, Performing arts, Theatre

Performance Art: Text Roulette

19 – 25 January @ Paper Mountain ·
Presented by Finn O’Branagain ·

It’s hard to know what to say sometimes. Is there a message you
need to send? Maybe you need to tell your crush you can’t stop
thinking about them, tell a partner about a little STI you have,
reconnect with a sibling you haven’t spoken to in years, tell
your housemate to stop leaving wet towels on the floor, send
condolences to a friend with a death in the family. If you can’t
find the words, play Text Roulette and let Finn O’Branagáin draft
them for you — then send, save, delete, or ask for a sign. Sign
up to anonymously have your text drafted, or purchase a ticket to
see the process unfold.

A hit at The Blue Room Theatre’s Winter  Nights Program 2018!

Part of Peaks 2019, Paper Mountain’s program of visual art and
performance for Fringe World Festival.

More info
W: www.facebook.com/events/395615867846483/
E:  finn.obranagain@gmail.com

Pictured: Text Roulette, credit: David Cox Media

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