Children, Circus, Dance, Festivals, News, Physical theatre, Reviews

A little long but important viewing

Junior AWESOME Review: DADAA and CircusWA, Experience Collider ⋅
Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, October 4 ⋅
Reviews by Gabriel (10) and Sascha Bott (8)⋅

Experience Collider is a show about two different groups of people having experiences that they wouldn’t have normally. For example, a man who couldn’t walk was up on a rope while a circus performer was down on a patient lift.

It was produced by DADAA and CircusWA and included performers such as Hugo Favelle, Caleb Barret, Evan Gallant-Harvey, Samuel Freeman and Richer Mortensen.

Something I liked about the show was how it was split up into sections. The first section was called Hold, the second was called Boss Together, the third was called Aerial Entanglement, and the fourth was called Train Collider.  Each section focused on a different idea and physical skill.

Second, I think the show overall was a bit long, and some of the things could have been cut out. For example, at one point in the show, there were people being dragged around on crash mats by dancers, and I didn’t understand why.

Lastly, the costumes were really good, I liked the back of the costume of the circus performers, which had a line down the middle. The costume was basically smock-looking overalls.

– Gabriel Bott (Aged 10)

 

Today I watched Experience Collider at the State Theatre Centre. It was a show made by DADAA and CircusWA. In the show there were people with disabilities (some in wheelchairs) and young circus performers. They performed different circus skills like hula-hoops, silks and tumbling.

I liked the section called Train Collider because a man with a disability got to go on a rope in the air, and I was really impressed by what he could do.

I think I would have changed how long it was because it was too long.

I also liked how they let people with disabilities have a turn of controlling the music. Some of them even got to sing.

I liked the show and I think more people should watch it.

– Sascha Bott (Aged 8)

Pictured: Cast of ‘Experience Collider’.  Photo: Rachael Barrett

Read our senior review of Experience Collider by Robert Housley.

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Children, Circus, Dance, News, Physical theatre, Reviews

Blueprint for the future

AWESOME Review: DADAA and CircusWA, Experience Collider ⋅
Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, October 4 ⋅
Review by Robert Housley ⋅

Experience is fundamental to our passage through life. It is how life manifests itself and how we interact with the world.

When significant boundaries inhibit the physical and psychological experience of existence, finding ways to enrich it are even more critical to a life well lived.

The 28 young people in this Awesome 2019 show – half with high-needs disabilities, half from the CircusWA Youth Troupe – embrace the joy of collaboration that has doubtless enriched the lives of all involved.

At the heart of this Sam Fox-directed performance is the desire to create a world of equality which, he suggests, could be “a blueprint for the future.”

Inclusiveness and equality go hand in hand, just as hold, the first of several themed components of the performance, proved.

The simple intimacy and symbolism of holding hands permeated the opening scenes, which had the entire cast and a fair number of the support crew intermingling on stage together. When an aerialist suspended about seat-height from the ground wrapped her arm around an electric wheelchair-bound performer and he literally took them for spin, the night was off to a brilliant start.

Electric wheelchairs abounded as did a range of circus props including aerial apparatus, landing mats and hula hoops.

Movement of all kinds – from dance to gymnastics – was integral, as was a sense of fun.

A film crew kept popping up and occasional shorts were projected onto two large screens either side of stage.

Between the screens was a large-scale revolving door-like entryway, which provided tactile curtaining and featured strongly in the most heart-warming of the short films.

The heart strings were pulled to breaking point in the joyful pas de deux between Mohammed Waheedy and Lila Campbell. Waheedy climbed unaided from his wheelchair on to a long mat, where circus performer Campbell waited, and together they choreographically rolled around for the sheer pleasure of it.

Onstage composer/musician Roly Skender provided beautiful atmospherics, enhanced with periods of live acoustic guitar.

Music for teenagers was most aptly celebrated near the end of the show with a full run of Perth band Tame Impala’s hit song “Let it Happen”.

Fox and the team of professional collaborators involved in the 18-month show development certainly did everything their power to guide this remarkable event and let the experiences happen for everyone.

Pictured top (left to right): Leila, Maddie, Hugo and Arlo   Photo: Peter Cheng.

Read reviews of ‘Experience Collider’ by Junior Critics Gabriel and Sascha Bott (age 10 and 8).

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News, Perth Festival, Physical theatre, Reviews, Theatre

Brutal ghosting

Perth Festival review: Dickie Beau, Re-Member Me ·
Studio Underground, February 27 ·
Review by Jonathan W. Marshall ·

Near the commencement of Dickie Beau’s Re-Member Me the audience is treated to a silhouette of a man seated in a pose reminiscent of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker, accompanied by a synchronised voice-over provided by the actor Ian McKellen. McKellen claims blithely that “Anyone can play Hamlet!” before clarifying that Hamlet is such an open theatrical part that it can be easily re-shaped to be about anyone. We are then rapidly treated to an array of distorted Hamlets, now accompanied by the live lip-synching Beau, leaping about and posing while dressed like an extra from the film version of the Village People’s YMCA.

Complete with Max Headroom-style stutters and reboots and a dazzling day-glo disco projection, the combination is deliberately jarring, garish but also stilted. It’s full of light, colour and joyous action, but it is also — like the best drag performance — slightly distanced, or as Susan Sontag used to say of Andy Warhol, affectively flat and hence “camp”.

Although Re-Member Me focusses on a version of Hamlet performed by the late Ian Charleson (best known for Chariots of Fire) it is, in fact, about the gay subculture of London and West End theatre. Beau playing the late Sir John Gielgud bookends the evening, initially with a recording of Gielgud’s incomparable vocal performance of Hamlet, returning to perform a rather tragic late recording of Gielgud discussing how horrible becoming truly old is since all of one’s friends are dead and one knows that one is next. Gielgud was charged in 1953 for “persistently importuning men for immoral purposes”, while Charleson played Hamlet shortly after it had become known to friends and colleagues that he was dying of AIDS. Both Gielgud and Charleson suffered, albeit in different ways, for their sexuality.

Beau sets up a horizontal space running across the back of the stage, which is bounded by partially see-through plastic curtains, as in a hospital. Above this is hung a wide projection screen onto which four versions of Beau’s head are beamed. For much of the production it is these heads, not the “living” actor below who lip-syncs interviews with Charleson’s friends and colleagues such as McKellen, the former director of the Royal National Theatre, a one-time costume assistant and others. Representing that generation of very English thespians who were taught that correct pronunciation and the Queen’s English was the very essence of their trade, these voice-overs themselves sound vaguely unreal and staged. The equally mannered, exaggerated movements of the mouth and face which Beau adopts when seeming to recite this material increases this sense of unreality and distance.

At a crucial point one of the subjects asks if maybe they are all now creating this romantic myth about how this was one of the best Hamlets ever out of nostalgia, and from their retrospective knowledge that this was to be Charleson’s last major role. Having put this forward, the speaker immediately rejects this, insisting it really was one of those once in a lifetime moments in the theatre. As if to prove this, a recording of a critic from The Times reciting a frankly ludicrous, hagiographic review is then played. One is therefore left with a niggling doubt that, tragic though the tale of Charleson’s death may be, the show is something of an act of smoke and mirrors, an attempt to “re-member” something that maybe never was. It is less a deeply affective myth or piece of stage magic than perhaps a rather brutal, deliberately clunky mixtape of memories and incomplete actorly presences — like the lifeless plastic mannequins which Beau sets up below the disembodied heads.

This is therefore a rather more thoughtful and jarring show than it might at first appear, both homage and debunking all in one, and all the more fascinating for this.

Re-Member Me is playing at Studio Underground until March 3,

Pictured top: Dickie Beau conjuring the ghosts of Hamlets past.  Photo: Sarah Lewis.

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A man pulling faces
Fringe World, News, Physical theatre, Reviews

Minimalist show, maximum charm

Fringe World review: Kallo Collective, Only Bones v1.0 ·
The Blue Room Theatre as part of Summer Nights, 12 February ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

Before I begin writing about Only Bones v1.0, I have some advice. Go and book your ticket now. I’m in two minds about whether you should then read this review, or wait until after you’ve seen the show. Maybe wait until after you’ve seen the show.

Because a great deal of the pleasure of this witty and eccentric show comes from its surprises.

Described by its makers – New Zealand’s Thom Monckton and Gemma Tweedie and Finland’s Kallo Collective – as “minimalist micro-physical theatre”, Only Bones 1.0 is understated. The performance begins in near darkness. All that is visible is a pair of incredibly articulate hands (belonging to solo performer Monckton) that swim through a small circle of submarine blue light; rippling and twitching, inflating and collapsing. The soundscape, provided by onstage-but-barely-visible technician Tweedie, is ambient, soothing.

So far, so chill… but things are about to change for the funnier.

For the next 40 odd minutes, the tracksuit-clad Monckton uses his wonderfully mobile body, to entertain and delight. Initially, we see only his limbs. A sock-masked hand is an interloper between a pair of feet. Two hands have a melodramatic nail polished-based duel.

Gradually more of Monkton’s body is revealed but there’s trouble with the head – it just won’t stay put on top of his neck. The antics that follow have the audience gasping with laughter and disbelief in equal measure. Monkton’s body has a rubber-like capacity to change shape, while his mobile face appears to be made of plasticine that can be pulled into any expression.

It’s all accompanied by a mix of cleverly-timed sound effects from Tweedie as well as various wordless squeaks, grunts and mutterings from Monkton himself. Without giving too much away, a game of mix-the-animal-sounds is a highlight of the show.

The intimacy provided by the Blue Room Theatre’s performance space is just right for this small-scale show.

My own non-plasticine face ached from grinning. Only Bones v1.0 is an absolute treat.

Only Bones v1.o plays the Blue Room Theatre until February 16.

Pictured top: Thom Monckton’s mobile face appears to be made of plasticine that can be pulled into any expression. Photo: Dmitrijus Matvejevas.

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News, Performing arts, Perth Festival, Physical theatre, Reviews, Theatre

Olympian spectacle

Perth Festival review: Dimitris Papaioannou, The Great Tamer ·
Heath Ledger Theatre, February 8 ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

Dimitris Papaioannou’s The Great Tamer begins with a slow, simple contest. A man’s naked body lies on a white panel on a grey/black stage. A man covers the body with a sheet; another man blows the sheet away. They enter, play their game, leave. Enter, play and leave. Again and again.

As it transpires, all of Papaioannou’s spectacle (it can’t be meaningfully described as a play, or a dance) is a game, the subject of which, the rules it adheres to or breaks, the bats, balls, dice, cards it plays with, is time. Time is the great tamer.

Papaioannou, who is best known as the creator of the opening ceremony for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, is by training and inclination a visual artist, and The Great Tamer is most satisfactorily approached as an animated work of art.

The set, a captured ocean swell, consists of a seemingly disordered jumble of those panels, like a jigsaw puzzle all of whose pieces are the same colour and shape. On and through this monochromatic landscape, Papaioannou’s troupe of ten actor/dancer/acrobats form and reform into tableaux, mutant creatures, or body parts, appearing and disappearing through unseen fissures into some unimaginable underworld.

It’s a world of art, sometimes specific (Dr Tulp gives his anatomy class, Kronos/Saturn devours his children) sometimes suggested (there’s much of the spirit of Dali in Papaioannou’s visual imagination; Escher and Bosch also), always playful.

Unsurprisingly, the forms and images of classical Greek art recur throughout. A figure has its marble surfaces cracked away to reveal the boy beneath (the debris is the rubble of time, swept up, bagged and thrown into the void), disembodied arms, legs and heads scurry from holes across the stage

For all the visual thrills of The Great Tamer perhaps the most brilliant effect Papaioannou creates, with his colleague Stephanos Droussiotis, is its music, a remarkable attenuation of Strauss’s An der schönen blauen Donau (The Blue Danube). It’s signature passages are excised, gradually dissolving into separate phrases and, finally, single notes, the musical equivalent of the aforementioned disembodied limbs. It’s a game, of course, a playing with the time that tames sound to make it music.

The Blue Danube is also, of course, a recurring motif in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Lovers of that similarly disconcerting visual extravaganza (I bet Papaioannou is) will recognise other references to it in the incongruous spacemen who float awkwardly across the stage, the light behind their helmets’ visors, like the reflections of the eye of HAL.

The cast of The Great Tamer are superbly skilled and superbly choreographed. Some of the physical effects they create defy logic, their acrobatic and circus skills are of the highest order, their wordless expressiveness compelling.

Because this is a world without words, and without narrative. It’s Plato/Socrates’s world of forms, of timeless ideas, of sight and appearance, the original Twilight Zone.

It’s Papaioannou’s playground; it’s where Estragon and Vladimir wait and Lear is exiled. It’s Beckett and Eliot and Shakespeare distilled, first into images and then to thought.

It’s no surprise, and no accident, that Papaioannou’s final image is of a skeleton breaking apart into rubble like a ruined Greek statue. Its skull rolls off the stage and comes to rest against . . . a book.

Perhaps waiting, in the marvellous game of The Great Tamer, for a Danish prince to play with.

The Great Tamer is playing at the Heath Ledger Theatre until February 12.

Pictured top: Platonic forms – the cast of The Great Tamer animate classical works of art

Photo: Julian Momert

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2 comedians in garbage bins , one leapfrogging
Calendar, Children, Circus, Comedy, Fringe World, Performing arts, Physical theatre

Children: Circus: Trash Test Dummies

18 Jan- 3 Feb @ Big Top @ The Woodside Pleasure Garden ·
Presented by Dummies Corp ·

Everyone put your bins out, tonight’s bin night and the Trash Test Dummies are on duty! This award winning, sidesplitting, slapstick comedy, circus routine takes the household wheelie bin to new heights, and delivers a dump-truck full of hilarity!

“Dungeree’d Dummies from down under create an adventure playground out of dustbins.” The Herald Scotland ★★★★

More info
W: https://www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/trash-test-dummies-fw2019
E:  producer@dummiescorp.com

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Charles Horse Lays an Egg
Calendar, Comedy, Fringe World, Performing arts, Physical theatre

Comedy: Cam Venn – Charles Horse Lays an Egg

18 – 27 January @ The Gold Digger, Fringe Central ·
Presented by Cam Venn & Brodie Butler-Robey ·

On a lonely space station one unlikely hero holds the fate of humanity in his hands. A surreal physical comedy, unlike anything you have ever seen. An interactive visual feast of stupidity and joy with a bizarre collection of props and spectacular costumes, the comedian is set to take comedy-lovers on an interstellar adventure like no other.

“The most beautiful train wreck of an experience that I have ever seen, and I mean that as the highest compliment I can possibly give.” The Advertiser
“A master of comedic balance yet can push the boundaries beyond anything his crowd may be expecting.” The Music
“Venn is natural, he is relatable, and he gives the audience an abundance of warm fuzzies.” Weekend Notes
“Peak fringe” The Age

18+: Contains nudity, sexual references and bumholes.

★★★★★ The Music
★★★★★ Weekend Notes
★★★★★ Funny Tonne

WINNER MICF Golden Gibbo 2018
WINNER WA Tour Ready Award 2018
Nominated Best Comedy Melbourne Fringe 2018
Nominated SA Tour Ready Award 2018

More info
W: www.camvenn.com
E:  camvenncomedy@gmail.com

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Garry Starr Performs Everything
Calendar, Comedy, Fringe World, Performing arts, Physical theatre

Comedy: Garry Starr Performs Everything

29 Jan – 2 Feb @ The Blue Room Theatre ·
8 – 9 February @ Funtavia, Geraldton ·
Presented by the Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights and Milke ·

Theatre is dying. Garry is our only hope.

Disgraced actor Garry Starr defies his critics by performing  every genre of theatre possible, thus saving the performing arts from its inevitable extinction. Starr tears through styles with little regard for personal safety and even less regard for art, proving his talents to himself, his adoring fans and those who dare question his ability.

Directed by Cal McCrystal (The Mighty Boosh, Paddington 1 & 2,
One Man: Two Guvnors)

“Comic genius” The Guardian, 2018
“Uproariously funny” The Scotsman, 2018
“An anarchic play-date with a six-foot-two toddler” GLAM Adelaide, 2018
Winner of Adelaide, Manchester and Brighton Fringe Awards 2018
Nominated for Best Newcomer and the Golden Gibbo at MICF 2018

More info:
www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/garry-starr-performs-everything-fw2019

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PlaySpace Good Moves
Dance, February 18, Performing arts, Physical theatre

Fringe World: PlaySpace

14 – 18 February @ 7pm @ Perth Cultural Playspace ∙
Presented by: Good Moves ∙

Catch them, spot them, slot in with them and look again. See if you can find them, and yourself, in the here and now. This is a site specific work based in Dance and physical theatre.

More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1154605721342663??ti=ia

Pictured top: Stacy Teuber

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Dance, Features, News, Performance art, Performing arts, Physical theatre

A future that looks like the past?

Described as a one-woman, one-Roomba show, Future’s Eve will also feature a paddling pool, breakfast made live on stage and lasers, according to its maker and performer, Michelle Aitken. The Perth-based independent dance artist took some time out to tell us more about Future’s Eve and the path that’s led her to creating a work that asks why our vision of the future looks so much like the past.

Michelle Aitken

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?
Michelle Aitken: I don’t know when I decided to chase arts as a career. I was aiming to do something creative at high-school and, having not really danced before, fell into the ballet program because it meant I didn’t have to do phys ed…

I remember saying quite early on that maybe I could do dance as a career and my mum just laughing. And I don’t think I was serious at that point, but I never stopped thinking that, and maybe it’s happened.

S: Where did you train?
MA: After dancing at school and as part of STEPS Youth Dance Company, I went to WAAPA for three years to do the contemporary dance course. I graduated in 2016 with a BA (Dance). Since then, I’ve learned about who I am as an artist by doing a lot of things for the first time in a professional context. I recently performed in Unveiling: Gay Sex For Endtimes, where I had to learn to juggle wearing a full head latex locust mask and nine inch heels, while naked, while wielding a microphone on a lead, sexy dancing, and (most terrifyingly for a dancer) using my voice. In a lot of ways that show is the most challenging thing I’ve done. It’s also probably shaped my practice the most. I wouldn’t be making Future’s Eve without everything I’ve done since leaving uni.

Michelle Aitken in ‘Unveiling: Gay Sex For Endtimes’.

S: Are you new to Fringe World?
MA: No! I made my first show Milk, Moonlight for Fringe last year, as part of the double bill “Topographs”, at The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights.

S: Tell us about Future’s Eve, your 2018 Fringe show!
MA: Future’s Eve is about women and the techno-scientific future. Between sex robots, developments in AI, and sci-fi images in pop culture, the majority of female-appearing robots fulfil stereotypically female roles: as receptionists and aged care workers, as the voices of our digital assistants, and as hyper-sexualised objects. So I wanted to ask, why does this vision of our possible future look so much like the past? And how can we think about shaping a more equal future?

The show itself is not actually a dance show – I’d call it an experimental performance. Expect me dressed in full body lycra, a Roomba, a paddling pool, breakfast made live on stage, lasers, popping balloons… It’s got this DIY futuristic vibe, it’s really fun to make, and I hope it’s ultimately thought provoking.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe?
MA: I’m looking forward to catching all the other shows at Peaks, as well as heaps of other new works from local theatre makers! Off the top of my head, Squid Vicious’ godeatgod, Rhiannon Petersen’s The Big Dark, Bow & Dagger’s The Beast and the Bride, and as much contemporary dance as I can possibly fit in.

S: What is your favourite playground equipment?
MA: My favourite playground equipment would have to be the monkey bars. No reason. I like swinging around.

‘Future’s Eve’ plays Paper Mountain, 5-6 & 9-10 February, as part of Fringe World.

Top and above: Michelle Aitken. Photos: Marshall Stay
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