Children, Mixed media, News, Reviews, Theatre

Best in show

AWESOME Review: Lemony S Puppet Theatre, Picasso and his Dog 
Dolphin Theatre, October 11 ⋅
Review by David Zampatti ⋅

My eldest son has a rascal of a sausage dog called Frankie. He also owns a print, a sweep of black curves on white paper. It’s a sketch of a dachshund, signed by the artist, Pablo Picasso.

After seeing Lemony S Puppet Theatre’s truly wonderful Picasso and His Dog I know that its name was Lump (“Rascal” in German). I also know a lot more about the whys and hows of my son’s print, about Picasso, and, I think, about artists and art.

And I’ve seen – not for the first time – how the best children’s theatre has the quality of directness and clarity that’s essential to delight young audiences and engage their grown-up handlers.

It’s the start of the day in the artist’s studio, a ramshackle jumble that looks like a small tornado has hit it. It is the debris (we imagine) of Picasso’s scattergun work the day before.

His assistants, Michelle (Tamara Rewse) and Francoise (Jacob Williams) busy themselves making it fit for human habitation and work.

Everything is in its place – brushes and paints, easels and canvases, fruit bowls and furniture – ready for Picasso (Ben Grant) to emerge.

When he does, he moves with restless profligacy from one task to another – a brushstroke or two here, moulding some clay there, holding objects up to his view. “I made this – it’s a Picasso!” he declares with delight in his production.

Then Lump arrives, and we find out who the small tornado actually was. (Lump was a real dog, a pet of the photographer David Douglas Duncan, who gave him to Picasso in 1957. The dog and the artist were inseparable until Lump died in 1973, only ten days before Picasso himself.)

We also find out how the artist worked, and, in a brilliant animated sequence, how animals and humans have interacted through art across the millennia.

The writer Sarah Kriegler, who also directed, has done a remarkable job breathing life into a story that has been well recorded but not well known.

She weaves what we need to know into what is essentially a love story between a man and a dog without ever explaining what we don’t need to know, or knew already. (In that regard, it’s admirable that she never tells us who Picasso was, even though, no doubt, the majority of the young audience would not have known of him. She lets them find him for themselves. A brave and wholly successful decision.)

She’s been supported by an exemplary creative team, designers Jonathon Oxlade and , lighting designer Rachel Burke and sound designers and composers Jethro Woodward and Ben T.D., who’ve given the production a rich look, sound and feel, as impressive as anything you’ll see on any stage.

Grant creates an entirely believable, natural and appealing character: portly, kooky and avuncular. Was this the real Picasso? Who cares!

Lump is a fabulous creation of wood and leather, skilfully manipulated by Rewse and Williams, who were the most active and involved of puppeteers.

Picasso and his Dog is as finely devised and realised piece of theatre, of any kind, as you will see. For children, who deserve nothing but the best in their early experience of the arts, it is a gift beyond measure.

Pictured: Ben Grant and his dog Lump.  Photo: Pia Johnson.

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Children, News, Reviews, Theatre

Heart-warming tale delivers wisdom and warnings

AWESOME Review: Windmill Theatre, Beep ·
Octagon Theatre, UWA, 12 October ·
Review by Lydia Edwards ·

On the day we were due to see Beep, the new production from South Australia’s Windmill Theatre Co, my three year old daughter had already watched the trailer over a dozen times. Protagonist Beep, the squat, big-eyed robot who arrives from a dying planet, had stolen her heart: and we were still several hours away from the show.

Once inside the Octagon Theatre and seated on large beanbags at the front, her demeanour changed. “Will it be scary?” she asked, looking up at the movable wooden set with its green grass, and fluffy, bulbous tree with windows in each puff. It might have been right out of Dr Seuss’ Lorax, a comparison which became more marked as the story commenced.

Once the three narrators and puppeteers were on stage, however, my daughter’s face lit up. This engaging trio  both run the show and blend into the background when the puppets take centre stage. They seamlessly transport the audience into the world of Mort, his little sister Pop, and an assortment of cute characters who live a life of cosy routine and predictability.

With the sudden arrival of Beep, however, comes a line to strike recognition into the heart of both young and old in the audience: but for markedly different reasons. “Nobody had any answers”, the narrator explains, for Beep’s presence in their world… “so they decided to be afraid”. Children will take this at face value. Many adults, I suspect, can’t help but link it to the stateless and homeless trying to make safe passage through the world, and the hostile reactions with which they are too frequently met. To “decide” to be afraid is a pointed and devastating choice, and it plays out just as badly for Beep, shivering and frightened in the storm.

Of course, Beep makes a friend in Mort, and by the end of the play she has found her new forever home with him. On the journey there the creatures discover that she has a lot to offer their community, especially when she turns an already delicious “molly melon” into an even tastier cake. Later, she uses the last of her battery power to save Pop, who is stuck up in the tree.

We are aware from the start that each day Beep’s battery, viewable through a series of lights on her belly, is dwindling. In another beautiful twist to contemporary turmoil, it is recharged through a tiny windmill placed on her head, powered through a surge of wind that is provided by the audience flapping their arms. By this point we have already learned that Beep was forced to leave her home planet because it “started to darken, and it wasn’t safe to stay”. (I don’t think I have to spell out the contemporary links here).

These darker themes are not overt, not preachy, and not necessarily even at the heart of this gentle, fantastically staged story. But they are undeniably present, and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to see Beep as a climate refugee, showing her new community that she brings worlds of experience to benefit them. Monosyllabic, tolerant Mort is summed up well by one of the closing lines: “There’s room in Mort’s heart for everyone, old friends and new.”

“I want it again!” said my daughter as we left the auditorium. If Beep should fly into Perth another day, I think we will definitely be up for a second viewing. I just hope her words of warning will carry a less urgent sting by then.

Beep plays Sunday 13 October, at 9.30am, 11.30am and 2pm.

Top image: Luke Cardew

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Circus, News, Reviews, Theatre

Having a ball and learning

AWESOME Review: Maxima Circus, CATCH! ⋅
PICA Performance Space, 9 October  ⋅
Review by David Zampatti ⋅

As you might have guessed, CATCH! is about all the things kids can do with balls (okay, okay, it could have been about fishing too – but it wasn’t).

Throw, kick, drop, juggle, hit, roll, sit on (if it’s big enough), mark, head, or even deflate.

But, in the world of the playground, balls can mean other things. You can take your ball and go home if you’re angry. You can sit on the sidelines while other kids play with them if you’re not able to connect.

Come to think of it, balls can mean a lot when you’re growing up, and teach you a lot about other games people play.

Writer and director Sally Richardson and her young performers at Maxima Circus have thought about it, and the result is a quirky little show that is as much about loneliness and acceptance than the games kids play.

The acrobatic work from the troupe (puppeteer Yvan Karlsson, dancer Isabella Stone and outstanding – and strong– circus performer Karla Scott) is neat and enjoyable. Richardson organises business effectively, and Joe Lui’s lighting and sound are as polished as we’ve come to expect from this remarkable and adaptable theatre maker.

And the addition of the experienced and emotionally charged actor Ella Hetherington as the girl on the outer gives the performance its bite.

CATCH! may not reach the heights of Tetris, the outstanding show from the Netherlands that has been an Awesome highlight this week, but that’s a very lofty bar to jump.

It is, however, a clever, thoughtful and neatly delivered show that has a point to make, and makes it well.

CATCH!’s public season has finished by the schools’ season runs until October 17.

Caption (left to right): Isabella Stones, Karla Scott (behind), Ella Hetherington and Ivan Karlsson.  Photo: Emma Fishwick

Junior Reviews by Gabriel and Sascha Bott

Gabriel Bott (10)

CATCH! is a funny, fast-paced show based on sport. It is by Maxima Circus, and we saw the show at PICA Performance Space as part of the 2019 Awesome Festival.

The show is directed at ages 3-6, but I’m 10 and I still enjoyed it. It tells the story of four friends, three of which are very good at sport, and one, not so much. The moral is that you need to practise to get better.

My favourite part was when the three sporty performers had gloves on, and they were teaching the non-sporty girl how to catch. After some time spent practising, she could juggle!

Something I didn’t like is how some of the music didn’t fit with what was happening in that moment. For example, in a scene where performers were using tennis rackets to make the shape of birds the music was sad, but I thought it was a happy moment.

Another thing that was good about this show is its humour. It wasn’t just people doing tricks all day. There was a story to it. It also was a very real concept, showing someone using resilience to overcome her fear of trying new things. This actually happens in real life.

Sascha Bott (8)

Today I saw CATCH! by Maxima Circus at PICA Performance space. Presented by the 2019 AWESOME Festival. In the show there were four circus performers who did various tricks with lots of different kinds of balls. They were telling a story about how you need to practise to get better at things you want to do.

My favourite part was when they used tennis rackets as birds and I got to put my hand out and feed one of the pretend birds.

I also liked how a performer got to go on a lady’s shoulders with a football in her hands.

I think they could have put in some talking in because it could have helped us get to know the characters better.

I think this is a good show for children over three.

 

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Comedy, News, Reviews, Theatre

A dream show for critics young and old

AWESOME Review: The Listies, ROFLSHALBOWCO ·
PICA, 9 October ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

Every now and then a show comes along with a title so long and so accurate that it’s a reviewer’s dream, because there’s nothing much more needs to be said about it.

It’s money for jam.

So here come The Listies, Matt Kelly and Richard Higgins, or, in the spirit of this year’s Awesome Festival, the Orange One (Matt) and the Blue One (Richard). Their show is called Roll On the Floor Laughing So Hard A Little Bit Of Wee Comes Out.

Need I say more?

Not really, but I will (a little bit). Matt and Richard are very funny guys (especially Matt, who’s a loony, but Richard is pretty funny too, for a straight man).

It’s got farts, lots of mess, a costume horse that’s a dinosaur, farting, bubbles, lullabies (of doooooooom), pretend wee and a large emoji poo, misbehaviour of many kinds and farts. All stuff that kids love.

It’s also got the first line from Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, the one about Grigor Samsa waking up one morning to find he’d become an insect, which went right over the heads of the grown-ups in the room but was deeply appreciated by the kids, who all know it by heart.

It’s 50 minutes jam-packed with ecstatic kid’s stuff, and clever as all get-out. Guaranteed to leave the little monsters (4 – 9, I’d guess) exhausted with laughter. And, just maybe, a tiny bit wet.

Junior reviews by Gabriel Bott (10) and Sascha Bott (8)

Gabriel (10)

ROFLSHALBOWCO was made by The Listies – Richard Higgins and Matthew Kelly – a comedy duo from Melbourne, who are funny and interactive with the audience.

ROFLSHALBOWCO is an amazing show for all ages and is great for people to get involved in. It is about Rich and Matt having people over at their house (which is the audience). They have a to-do list that needs to be completed while the visitors are over. Two of the things on the list are already ticked off, but one of them isn’t; Beddy Byes. One problem, Matt doesn’t want to go to bed yet, so he tries to do everything he can, NOT to go to bed.

I don’t have anything negative to say about this show. The Listies’ show had all different possibilities of events that might actually happen in real life. For example, Rich’s plant was growing perfectly well, but Matt’s was just a stick with a leaf stuck to it. You could probably imagine that happening if you got mad your plant wasn’t growing well.

Secondly, it was just plain funny, everything about it was funny. Even their characters were funny. Matt’s voice was funny. Rich’s moustache was funny. The way they made every possible thing into something funny was so clever.

Lastly, I really enjoyed the way they got everyone in the audience to join in. Little kids were getting up on stage and dancing. It was just a great atmosphere to be in. If I was to give a rating out of ten, it would be a 10/10.

Sascha (8)

ROFLSHALBOWCO is a comedy show by Matt Kelly and Richard Higgins, known as The Listies, and was part of the AWSOME Arts Festival. In the show we saw Richard try to help Matt get to sleep because he’s not tired. Somehow, they made all of Richard’s ideas into hilarious jokes. For example, Richard decided to ask people their favourite books for Matt to read, but Matt wrote down funny and silly titles instead of the real ones.

My favourite bit was when Matt was emptying Richard’s tidy, clean and organised sock drawer – he kept saying, “Thank it and send it on its way! Thank it and send it on its way!”

I also liked how Richard told Matt a funny version of Jack and the Beanstalk – Jack and the Beans Talk. Richard’s version was fall of funny twists (such as when Jack touched the golden duck, aliens attacked him).

I really liked the show and think lots of parents and children would love it to.

 

 

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News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

Old-school entertainment

AWESOME Review: Bear With Me ⋅
State Theatre Centre, October 7 ⋅
Review by Lydia Edwards⋅

It’s not every day you see bears entering an auditorium on the arms of their young owners. But Bear With Me wouldn’t have a show without them. That’s what makes this performance so enchanting — its hands-on yet entirely unpressured emphasis on audience participation.

The stage is set simply. The small auditorium at the State Theatre Centre is set with chairs, floor cushions and cardboard boxes, which immediately became seats for each bear, pig, sloth and rabbit in attendance. There is a screen between two microphones on which black-and-white images of an endearingly tattered bear engage the youngest while simple prompts provide guidance for the older children and adults in attendance.

Hosts Tyrone (David Megarrity), in fez and tuxedo, and Lesley (Samuel Vincent), in 1930s-style tweed trousers with braces, address their audience from the start as “bear experts”, giving a delightful sense of ownership and authority.

With gentle introductions and soft ukulele chords, their young audience is ushered into 45 minutes of a refreshingly old-fashioned show that considers the essence of that much-loved childhood symbol: the teddy bear.

With shades of Flanders and Swann, Tyrone and Lesley present a series of sweet, amusing short songs designed to appeal to children between the ages of 2 and 5 (one about bottoms went down especially well with my three-year-old), interspersed with musings on the nature of the Bear.

“Are we part of the bear, or is the bear part of us?” Tyrone asks, combining metaphysics with, perhaps, a genuine question as his audience gaze intently into the eyes of their little companions. This is a gentle and relaxed performance, far from the bright lights, colours and intense enthusiasm of many contemporary children’s shows.

That is probably because, in many respects, this is not contemporary. It harks back to a simpler mode of entertainment, with Lesley’s mute yet warm presence and Tyrone’s vaudevillian repartee.

In the disquiet of our times it is heartening to know that such a deceptively simple, comforting performance has the ability to engage and engross.

Bear With Me is on until October 11.

Pictured (left to right): David Megarrity as Tyrone and Samuel Vincent as Lesley in Bear With Me.  Photo: Jocelyn Vincent.

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Festivals, News, Reviews, Theatre

Alvin dives deep into climate change

Junior AWESOME Review: The Last Great Hunt, The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer ⋅
The Blue Room Theatre, October 8 ⋅
Review by Oliver Haluszkiewicz (14 years)⋅

The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer is a multi award- winning one-man show that is a touching story of love and the end of the world.

The seas have risen due to climate change, billions have died and those who are left live on farms, on skyscrapers and on mountains. The show combines puppetry and visual images together to produce this gripping and entertaining story for all ages to see.

The show tackles the issue of climate change and humans polluting the earth to the point of living on the once-tallest mountains at are now almost at sea level.

Alvin embarks on a journey to the depths of the ocean to find a new world for humans to live on underneath the earth’s crust and to bring it back up to sea level.

Alvin also encounters some personal losses and journeys on the way. St John Cowcher provided an entertaining and at times an emotional performance as Alvi that could be relatable to adults and kids, and is a great mix of humour and pathos.

The show is a great 50-minute watch. Parents and grandparents need to take their children to see Alvin Sputnik these school holidays, or even children take their parents or grandparents, as the big overall message about climate change ties in nicely to the whole climate change epidemic we are experiencing throughout the world that kids are importantly getting more involved in.

This show is a fun and emotional roller coaster that will have you either laughing out loud or crying in your chair. I highly recommend that everyone should definitely see The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer these October school holidays before it tours away again.

If I had to rate the show I would give it a 4/5. It’s a great watch.

The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer is on until October 26.

Read an interview with the Awesome Festival’s artistic director Jenny Simpson.

Pictured: St John Cowcher as Alvin Sputnik.  Photo: Jarrad Seng.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Team Tetris firing on all four

AWESOME Review: Arch 8, Tetris ⋅
Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, October 8 ⋅
Review by David Zampatti ⋅

I can’t claim I’m familiar with Tetris, despite its status as one of the greatest of all video games since the Russian Alexey Pajitnov completed it in 1984, when many of the parents of the kids in the audience at PICA hadn’t been born.

I do know Rubik’s Cube, though, and Twister, and Stack, and all the other games the strong, agile, funny and empathetic dancers Ivan Ugrin, Paulien Truijen, Lorenzo Capodieci and Zahira Suliman from Erik Kaiel’s Dutch company Arch 8 have brought to this year’s Awesome Festival.

The four performers (who I suspect the kids will remember, Wiggles style, as the Orange One, the Green One, the Red One and the Blue One) work their bodies through intricate recreations of the games, like organisms that fit together and break – or slide – apart.

The technical skill and the load-bearing strength of all four is remarkable. Even the hops that propel them from set-up to set-up on the bare black stage remind me of excruciating hours of judo classes at the YMCA of my childhood.

Kaiel’s choreography is tight as a drum, with an energy bordering on violent, and the kids and their wranglers were spellbound.

Even when some of them got just a little twitchy during the concluding Rubik’s Cube routine, it was soon forgotten as the performers ran and clambered amok through the audience and then led most of them onstage for a exuberant all-in finale.

Tetris is a blast!

Tetris is on each day at 1pm until October 11.

Read an interview with the Awesome Festival’s artistic director Jenny Simpson.

Photo: Didier Philspart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sara Ouwendyk as Grandma with Emma-Rose Barrowclough as Peter with Mayume Noguromi as the Bird watching on. Photo by Scott Dennis
Classical music, Dance, News, Reviews, story telling

Inspiring the next generation

AWESOME Review: West Australian Ballet, Peter and the Wolf ⋅
Perth Cultural Centre, October 5 ⋅
Review by Amy Wiseman ⋅

It is always a thrill to see a buzzing young crowd gather for an outdoor performance, particularly the morning after one of Perth’s vicious spring storms almost blew the temporary stage over.

Thankfully the weather cleared for the opening of West Australian Ballet’s Peter and the Wolf, a short symphonic story ballet presented to the next generation of ballet fans through a collaboration with AWESOME Arts Festival. This work serves the dual purpose of introducing children to the instruments of the orchestra as well as telling a cautionary fairy tale of bravery and vigilance.

Opening the performance is a short divertissement that displays the dancers’ technical skill and reinforces to the young audience that although we’re about to enter a fairy tale world, the dancers themselves are not to be feared. The cast, a selection of WAB’s corps de ballet and young artists, perform Andries Weidemann’s neat, complex choreography with aplomb.

The story itself unfolds – quite literally – in the form of a pop-up story book, in which characters are introduced in turn and adorn themselves with an additional costume piece, accompanied by a particular orchestral instrument. Design graduate Maeli Cherel’s clever sets and costumes are intricate yet functionally designed, with the potential for future touring.

Michael Brett’s arrangement of Prokofiev’s original score for Perth Symphony Orchestra is superb, but the highlight of this iteration is Julia Moody’s narration, her mellow, gravelly tones exuding warmth and character in spades.

Mayume Noguromi as the Bird with Kassidy Thompson as the Cat and Emma-Rose Barrowclough as Peter copy
Mayume Noguromi as the Bird with Kassidy Thompson as the Cat and Emma-Rose Barrowclough as Peter. Photo: Scott Dennis.

Though each character danced beautifully it was corps de ballet member Mayume Noguromi who shone as the Bird, with twinkling footwork and ethereal lightness.

The young cast felt a little too reserved for this style of performance, where exaggerated mime and facial expression are a must to establish the story. Weidemann’s musicality and penchant for comedy, however, proved entertaining in the main.

An engaging performance aside, the wonderful thing about this collaboration is the opportunity for West Australian artistic development – the young performance team and all areas of the production behind-the-scenes. And the other outcome? Inspiring a love of the arts in the next generation.

Peter and the Wolf  is on at 11am from October 7-11.

Pictured top: Sara Ouwendyk as Grandma with Emma-Rose Barrowclough as Peter with Mayume Noguromi as the Bird watching on. Photo: Scott Dennis.

Junior review by Bethany Stopher (13)

Peter and the Wolf, performed by West Australian Ballet, is a free event as part of the AWESOME Festival. Not only does this event add culture to the city, it also is an amazing experience for all ages. Peter and the Wolf is cleverly designed to be suitable for young children. Full length, traditional ballets are sometimes hard for young ones to focus on and they can get fidgety and bored. Peter and the Wolf has aspects that mean even a toddler can keep up with the story line.

Firstly, the characters are beautifully depicted. As Peter, Sara Ouwendyk is courageous and valiant, skipping and jumping merrily around the stage. Mayume Noguromi, as the Bird, is adorned in a pretty, feathered plume and tutu, and flitters about, full of personality. I especially admired her, as out of the dancers her spirit, expression and technique was most commendable.

Dancing the role of the Cat, Kirsty Clarke is also amazing, practically screaming the smugness of the animal she’s portraying. Playing Peter’s grandma, Asja Petrovski appears very little, and although she acted well she wasn’t given much choreography. I have seen Asja perform as Clara before, so I think her talent is wasted just hobbling around.

Emma-Rose Barrowclough is excellent as the Duck, making the children shriek with laughter as she paddled around on a little blue mat. Kassidy Thompson and Sarah Ross appear only briefly as the Hunters, but play their parts well, very brisk and foreboding.

Finally, Nathan Claridge, as the Wolf, is a truly sinister character, with a million-dollar snarl that could rival an actual wolf. His jumps are amazing. At the performance I saw the little boy in front of me screamed “Wolf!” to warn the characters every time he got too close. The Wolf was my little brother’s favourite character, even though he hid in my dad’s shoulder.

Providing a voice-over of the story helps engage the audience, especially younger viewers. Although the portable stage is small, the company makes the most of it, adding a raised top level to resemble a tree. The scenery is well-used and effective, though simple. When the unfortunate incident occurred between Wolf and Duck feathers blew across the stage, which made us chuckle, although we were sorry for the duck!

Another interesting element is that the different characters in the story are represented by different musical instruments, as is usually the case for this story.  For example, the flute for the bird, the oboe for the duck. The narrator explains this to the audience when the characters are introduced.

The choreography is fun and playful, the dancers frequently turning cartwheels. The choreography showcases the different characters.

Throughout the show there is audience interaction. When the audience cries out to the performers, the dancers acknowledge them by gesture. At the show I saw I think this made the younger children feel as if they were part of the story. Sometimes the performers prompted the audience to clap, when someone was executing a challenging sequence. At the end of the show all the littlies were called up to the front of the stage, where they were given a mini dance class. I feel like this really added to the experience.

Peter and the Wolf  is a touching, enjoyable piece that considers the needs of younger viewers. This free event is a great opportunity to open up the world of ballet to a new audience, but experienced viewers will also appreciate this wonderful performance. If you have spare time on your hands definitely head to the Perth Cultural Centre, where the AWESOME Festival is being held. I absolutely recommend Peter and the Wolf to everybody!

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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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