BSSTC's production of Medea - by Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks, original concept by Anne-Louise Sarks after Euripides; at Studio Underground, State Theatre of WA; Perth, WA. Photographed on 8th August 2019, by Philip Gostelow.
News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

The power of the ordinary

Review: Black Swan State Theatre Co. with WA Youth Theatre Co., Medea ·
State Theatre Centre of WA, 10 August ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

They have been so long dead. Two thousand, four hundred and fifty years in fact.

Like the princes in the tower or the infant victims of Macbeth’s fell swoop, the sons of Jason and Medea died mute and unknown, their individual humanity unexplored and undefended.

Since then, Medea – sorceress, she-devil, spirit of vengeance, woman scorned, arch-nihilist and exterminating angel – has been reimagined and recast a thousand times, from antiquity through to Fay Weldon, her character and motivation examined, and claimed, by feminists and misogynists alike.

She has become an elemental figure in art and life.

So it’s an audacious and fecund idea to invert the focus of Medea; to bring her boys to life in their last innocent hour so that their mother’s crime against abstract nature is against real, identifiable people, however young.

In the original, Medea is in every scene, always with only one other character. The boys are never seen, and only their screams are heard as they are slaughtered. In this adaptation the boys are always on stage, and Medea is the only other character we see.

It’s risky. It’s not like, say, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, where we have the framework of the characters available to us, where we have heard them speak, seen the whites of their eyes, before.

We know nothing about these boys, and the writers, Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks, have created them from absolutely nothing other than the fact of their death; we know how they died, but we can’t be certain why.

It’s hardly through any fault of their own. Leon (Jesse Vakatini) and his younger brother Jasper (Jalen Hewitt) are just kids, locked in the toy-splattered room they share. Mum and dad are having a grown up talk: “About love”, says Leon. “That could take an hour”, replies Jasper, exasperated.

What their parents are talking about – although we never hear them – is his plan to marry Glauce, the daughter of King Creon, while keeping Medea as his mistress.

It’s not going to wash with Medea. She’s in the boys’ room, full of bad tempered mothering: “This room’s a pigsty – clean it up”.

The boys get to work, and so does she. She’s back, with a beautifully wrapped gift she wants to give Glauce. They are fond of their dad’s “friend”, and happily write a sweet card to go with the deadly present.

And then Medea is back again. This time with a blue cordial for her sweet boys.

Medea_prodpix__LR Alexandria Steffensen. Jalen Hewitt and Jesse Vakatini. image credit Philip Gostelow 10
What replaces the awful power of the original is the universal story of children becoming the victims of their parent’s conflicts and passions. Alexandria Steffensen (Medea) Jalen Hewitt (Jasper) and Jesse Vakatini (Leon). Photo: Philip Gostelow.

There’s little concession to the conventions of Greek tragedy in the writing or in Sally Richardson’s direction; there’s no prologue or chorus, and its brutal and effective catharsis – a sudden glimpse through the gates of Medea’s hell – lasts an instant and is gone.

What replaces the awful power of the original is the universal story of children becoming the victims of their parent’s conflicts and passions; we’ve seen it in countless other ordinary places; we will see it again.

The great strength of this Medea is that ordinariness; the boys play with toy guns and swords, they tease and wrestle, they snuggle up under a doona to watch the stars. Medea bustles about in jeans and shifts; she’s a harassed suburban mother with a lot to deal with, and a lot on her mind.

We know them very well. Which makes their fates even more plangent.

Vakatini and Hewitt give winning performances (they alternate with Jack Molloy and Lachlan Ives; the four were cast after an exhaustive process by WA Youth Theatre Compny, who collaborated with Black Swan for this production) and Alexandria Steffensen is convincing as their mother, even if denied the towering power of the classical Medea.

Which is, perhaps, the dilemma for the audience in this production. If you expect the mighty heights of Greek tragedy and the emotional release it engenders, this prosaic Medea may leave you perplexed and disengaged.

There is something in it, though, that reaches out in a more direct, human way. It is no great monument in a temple on the hill; it’s a couple of little wooden crosses with wilted flowers on a verge outside an everyday suburban house.

Not as powerful, perhaps, but more sad.

Medea plays until August 25.

Read a Q&A with director Sally Richardson here.

Pictured top are Jesse Vakatini as Leon and Jalen Hewitt as Jasper. Photo: Philip Gostelow.

Please follow and like us:
Vivienne Awosoga, David Whitney and Will McDonald in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (c) Clare Hawley
News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

Much Ado woos the room

Review: Bell Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing ·
State Theatre Centre of WA, 7 August ·
Review by Jan Hallam ·

What a funny night it was. First, there was the sad news that cast member Suzanne Pereira had fallen ill and was in hospital. Then followed the announcement that director James Evans would step into the breach as Antonio.

Two roles, one director’s script, highlighted and annotated to the inch of its life, and, fortuitously, a sharp opening night suit and tie. Designer Pip Runciman could not have ordered better for her clever, compact touring unit.

Did the turn of events have any effect on the safe delivery of Shakespeare’s sharp, dark comedy?

Perhaps the rhythm of the first scene or two felt unsettled and unpredictable with players looking cautiously to their somewhat sweaty boss, ready to counter any signs of faltering. But Bell doesn’t hire hey nonny no ninnies, so the play about love overcoming evil played inexorably on to a room falling madly in love with this performance, and, be still my heart, Shakespeare.

David Whitney, Duncan Ragg and Will McDonald in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (c) Clare Hawley
David Whitney (Leonato), Duncan Ragg (Benedick) and Will McDonald (Claudio).  Photo: Clare Hawley.

Evans, in his day job, has presented a thought-provoking production of a play that sends a shaft of horror down this reviewer’s spine. It is a complex discussion on what was true 420 years ago (its first outing was in 1599) and is, horrifically, true today – some men (meaning many men in this patriarchy of ours) view with suspicion and defensiveness women who are cleverer than them, and with ownership – lustful or otherwise – whenever the mood takes them. Somewhere in between there’s patronising dismissiveness.

These discourses are played out by the raking down of Hero, a young, vibrant heiress who is wooed by a Duke on behalf of one of his young officers, then consequently gifted to Claudio by an apparently doting father.

You see the problem immediately. On this occasion, Hero is pretty smitten with the idea of hitching up to Claudio. What else is she to do with her life?

Duncan Ragg and Zindzi Okenyo in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (c) Clare Hawley
Think Bogey and Bacall: Duncan Ragg as Benedick and Zindzi Okenyo as Beatrice. Photo: Clare Hawley

Then there’s the sparring, prickling, mouthy love developing between Hero’s cousin Beatrice (Shakespeare’s version of a muted but still untamed shrew) and Benedick, the Duke’s go-to-guy for good times.

Here is the model of true love, for what it’s worth. Witness Bea (a fiery Zindzi Okenyo) and Ben (a jestering Duncan Ragg) and you see how ideal coupledom will be represented in literature and theatre (and subsequently other mediums) down the ages, think Bogey and Bacall, Hepburn and Tracey.

The play gives space for these two couplings to circle and swirl, mirror and pervert, question and confirm the combative nature of relationships we have had to endure for centuries.

Enter Don John, the resident evil. A sulking, skulking bastard brother to the Duke, who hates all this laughing and goo-ing and wooing highlighting his miserable non-state, so he plots to destroy Hero’s reputation for no other reason than he can.

The tragic outrage of this single act of evil is that the other men in this play enable him to succeed. He is believed and Hero is not. He’s a man, she is so very obviously not.

This is where the Evans’ production steps out of a traditional rendering of Hero as the helpless, swooning victim.

Vivienne Awosoga’s Hero is mad, boiling mad. She does not accept her fate as fallen woman without first serving it up to her morally frail lover and her father who has turned so easily from doting to damning.

From this distance, it may be at the expense of Beatrice’s primacy as exemplar of the warrior woman. Her injunction to Benedick to avenge the wrong inflicted on her cousin falls flat. Her fabulous line, that if she were a man, she would eat Claudio’s heart in the marketplace, seems a little empty given her cousin skinned him alive in the previous scene.

Marissa Bennett and Mandy Bishop in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (c) Clare Hawley
Mandy Bishop is exquisitely unstable as Dogberry. She is pictured here with Marissa Bennett (Verges). Photo: Clare Hawley.

Where the anger leaves off, there’s the comedy and this production exploits it to the last giggle. Special mention must be made of Mandy Bishop’s exquisitely unstable constable, Dogberry, worth the entrance price alone. Ragg is a stand-up natural, and his Benedick woos the audience at times with more enthusiasm than the girlfriend. He probably needs to watch that. It might not end well for him.

These are merely ruminations. This production is such a lot of fun and the opening night audience was transported to a happy place, reviewer included. That’s until you turn out the light and remember the horror you have just paid witness to – and to which we are all complicit.

Perfect Shakespeare.

Bell Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing plays the State Theatre Centre of WA until August 10.

Pictured top: Vivienne Awosoga as Hero, David Whitney as Leonato and Will McDonald as Claudio. Photo: Clare Hawley.

Please follow and like us:
Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Firing the senses

Review: Bangarra Dance Theatre, “30 years of sixty five thousand” ·
State Theatre Centre of WA, 31 July ·
Review by Jo Pickup ·

“We are the books of yesterday”.

These were amongst the words spoken by Balladong Noongar artist Barry McGuire in his welcoming address to the audience at the premiere of Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Perth season “30 years of sixty five thousand”.

Indeed, on opening night, the bodies of 17 Bangarra dancers pulsed with stories of both ancient and more recent pasts, as they performed three works specially chosen by the company’s Artistic Director Stephen Page to comprise the company’s thirtieth anniversary season.

The three works are Unaipon (2004) by former Bangarra dancer-turned-choreographer Frances Rings; Stamping Ground (1983) by internationally renowned Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, and to make fire, a 40 minute work comprised of various memorable moments from the company’s repertoire as chosen by Stephen Page.

Tyrel Dulvarie in 'Unaipon'. Photo: Daniel Boud.
Tyrel Dulvarie in ‘Unaipon’. Photo: Daniel Boud.

Firstly, Unaipon. This is a work inspired by Aboriginal inventor and philosopher David Unaipon, a Ngarrindjeri man whose face now appears on the Australian $50 note. At first, Unaipon’s score (composed by the late David Page), resonates with mellifluous orchestral string sounds. Five male dancers clad in bright orange pants soon appear and zigzag across the stage, sliding and stretching between long elastic strings which are pulled taut like a clothesline across the width of the space.

The dancers expertly weave themselves through this maze creating small geometric kaleidoscopes at intermittent intervals. The music also builds into impressive patterns and layers that include rattling, stick tapping and deep electronic beats. The small ensemble of performers move with effortless strength and vitality, though dancer Beau Dean Riley Smith is particularly captivating here. At particular moments his physical presence eclipses his band of brothers; his unique series of flexes and strikes are achieved with remarkable precision.

As more dancers enter the stage, the work progresses to scenes of male-female duets and cyclical stage patterning. By the end, we seem to have been taken into a world of an individual whose life was layered with complex questions of identity. Through Rings’s choreography; Page’s sound score; Peter England’s set design and Nick Schlieper’s lighting, certain aspects of Unaipon’s life as a traditional Ngarrindjeri man, a man raised by a white family, and a man who was a devout Christian are drawn out in poetic and, at times, highly abstract style.

Ryan Pearson,Tyrel Dulvarie, Ella Havelka in 'Stamping Ground'. Photo: Daniel Boud.
Ryan Pearson, Tyrel Dulvarie, Ella Havelka in ‘Stamping Ground’. Photo: Daniel Boud.

This complex intertwining of different cultures and beliefs also imbues Jiří Kylián’s iconic work Stamping Ground. This piece was created in the early eighties after Kylián travelled from Europe to Northern Australia to experience a massive corroboree at Groote Eylandt. The result is a fascinating window into Kylian’s creative mind and curious spirit. To see Kylian’s response to these traditional, ceremonial Aboriginal dances, expressed through his signature balletic, yet boundary-pushing modern dance style was very interesting. Aesthetically stripped back and minimalist, the six dancers in this work (three male, three female), performed Kylian’s both profound and playful visions in dynamic fashion on opening night. Especially impressive was the performance of soloist Baden Hitchcock. His leaps were magnificent, his landings silent and controlled. Throughout the work, though especially in his opening solos, he moved with a mesmerising eloquence that was almost breathtaking and left a deep impression.

And lastly, to make fire. As a selection of best-bits and moving moments Bangarra’s archive over the past thirty years, on the whole, the piece seemed subtle in its choices. However (and almost as an admonishment for such an observation) its closing scene comes up trumps. A circle of dancers in white dust lie on a darkened stage until a moment of awakening. This waking instant is dramatic, enlivening and stirring. Yes, Bangarra continues to fire our senses in its power to connect us to the strength inherent in Aboriginal culture and stories, and “30 Years of Sixty Five Thousand” is a nourishing reminder of that.

Bangarra Dance Theatre’s “30 Years of Sixty Five Thousand” plays until August 3.

Pictured top: Courtney Radford, Tyrel Dulvarie and Gusta Mara in ‘to make fire’. Photo: Daniel Boud.

Please follow and like us:
Woman in blue snowsuit with long grey hair with background of tin foil
August 19, Calendar, Dance, Featured, Performing arts

Dance: Wonder Woman

28 – 31 August @ Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Presented by State Theatre Centre of WA and Laura Boynes ·

Imagine feminism was a superhero.
Imagine laughing together with the women of the world.
Wonder Woman is here. Time is up.

Provocative and physical, Wonder Woman unearths the everyday superhero and delivers a solid punch to the gut. A double bill of dance works choreographed by NSW artists Adelina Larsson and Julie-Anne Long in collaboration with WA performer Laura Boynes, this is an exposing, funny and intimate show that will have you furiously nodding in agreement and shouting me too.

“Laura Boynes brought her powerful presence… characteristically self aware, even self-deprecating, but always exuding a certain magnetism that leaves you unable to blink.” – Yolande Norris BMA

More info:
www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/state-theatre-centre-of-wa/whats-on/wonder-woman/

Please follow and like us:
Features, News, Performing arts, Theatre

A modern-day Medea

How do you take an ancient Greek play about betrayal and revenge, that culminates in a mother murdering her two children, and reimagine it into relevance for a contemporary audience?

Nina Levy asked this question and more of Sally Richardson, the director of Black Swan State Theatre and WA Youth Theatre companies’ upcoming production of Medea.

Sally Richardson

Nina Levy: This version of Medea is by Kate Mulvany and Anne-Louise Sarks… how have the writers shaped this story for a contemporary audience?
Sally Richardson: Kate and Anne-Louise’s Medea is very much an “of the now” re-writing of the play. This is Medea as experienced from the perspective of the two sons of Jason and Medea, and set in the boys’ bedroom in a family home somewhere in Australia. It’s a story that is over 2500 years old, with events unfolding as per the Euripides version but it is adapted into a modern vernacular and represented in a very human, poignant and moving way.

NL: When did you first come across this version of Medea? What drew you to the play?
SR: The work was first performed in 2012 and won the Sydney Critics Circle Awards for Best New Australian Work, Best Main Stage Production, Best Direction, Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Newcomers. Friends had seen the show at Belvoir St Downstairs studio space and said it was incredibly moving.

I had directed Kate’s play The Danger Age in 2010 for [the now defunct Perth theatre company] Deckchair Theatre and I was keen to do another work of Kate’s here in Perth. Given the subject matter around the breakdown of a family unit and a once passionate marriage, this work feels both timely and relevant to our audience.

In rehearsal: Young actors Jack Molloy (foreground) and Lachlan Ives. Photo: Philip Gostelow.

NL: Medea is a collaboration between Black Swan and WA Youth Theatre Company (WAYTCo) – tell me about the collaborative process.
SR: WAYTCo helped us undertake the critical first stage of the project in finding the two young casts to play the key roles of the brothers Jasper and Leon. In a process facilitated by WAYTCo, and in their space, over a single day we saw more than a hundred boys. We then ran a once a week workshop for eight weeks for the selected 25 emerging artists. The boys received an introduction to Medea and professional theatre, and it allowed the team a real chance to work with and get to know our potential cast members. There are two alternating casts, so at the end of the process two pairs of boys were selected for the roles: Jalen Hewitt and Jesse Vakatini, and Lachlan Ives and Jack Molloy.

Now in rehearsal we have WAYTCo’s ongoing support and WAYTCo Associate, emerging artist Amelia Burke, has also joined the team as an observer.

NL: The fate of the children is one of the most tragic elements of Medea. How do you look after the emotional well-being of the young performers playing the roles of Leon and Jasper?
SR: Although they are playing characters a couple of years younger, the four boys are actually aged 14-15 so in many ways they are quite mature, and even joke about the play being actually quite funny “except for the homicide at the end”. We have had some deep discussions around how this might happen and why it can happen, but it’s the tragedy of this that is also what makes the play so relevant and timely.

Alexandria Steffensen with young actors Jalen Hewitt and Jesse Vakatini, in rehearsal. Photo: Philip Gostelow.

NL: As a director you’re renowned for bringing together multiple disciplines. Describe the vision for this work in terms of your artistic practice.
SR: My creative practice through Steamworks Arts has seen me actively championing the voice, presence and creativity of women in the performing arts. This production is no exception having been created by two leading female playwrights with a female lighting designer in the incredible Lucy Birkenshaw, singer/songwriter/composer and arranger Melanie Robinson on the team, Laura Boynes as movement director and powerhouse actor Alexandria Steffensen in the lead role. We also have an all-female backstage team in Erin Coubrough and Ana Julien Martial so we balance out the boy numbers pretty well! The script also gives us lots of room to choreograph our own play and fight sequences, so there are plenty of opportunities to create an exciting physical score as well.

SR: What do you think the cast members will bring to the play?
NL: The boys are wonderful and bring buckets loads of enthusiasm, energy, a wicked sense of humour and cheeky playfulness to their roles. Never mind superb good looks and charm… (they’ll love me for saying this!).

Alex [Steffensen], a WAAPA grad recently return from over East, will be new to Perth audiences and I know her Medea is going to blow people away. Her reading is intelligent, gutsy, while also being deeply moving. All together, it’s going to make for an unforgettable night in the theatre.

You can catch Medea at the State Theatre Centre of WA, August 8-25.

Pictured top: Lachlan Ives, Alexandria Steffensen and Jack Molly rehearsing ‘Medea’. Photo: Philip Gostelow.

Please follow and like us:
Single dancer to the right of image
Dance, News, Performing arts

WIN a double pass to Bangarra Dance Theatre’s ’30 years of sixty five thousand’

We have two double passes to give away to see the matinee performance of “Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand”, 2pm, August 3, at the State Theatre Centre of WA!

Bangarra Dance Theatre celebrates its landmark 30th anniversary season this year with “Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand”; a stunning display of contemporary dance embarking on the company’s largest national tour from June to October.

Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand is a three-part program, combining a re-staging of Frances Rings’ monumental Unaipon (Clan, 2004), Stamping Ground by acclaimed Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, and a powerful collection of dance stories – to make fire – from the company’s 30-year history curated by Bangarra Artistic Director Stephen Page and Head of Design, Jacob Nash.

These works will be performed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across Australia,  who come together as a creative clan to harness a shared spirit and deliver a program representative of the world’s stage and the company’s best work.

To be in the running to win one of two double passes to see the matinee performance of “Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand”, 2pm, August 3, at the State Theatre Centre of WA, simply email hello@seesawmag.com.au with “Bangarra giveaway” in the subject line and your name and phone number in the body of the email.

Limit of one entry per person.

Deadline for entries: C.O.B Thursday 25 July. Winners will be notified Friday 26 July.

 

“Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand” plays the State Theatre Centre of WA July 21-August 3.

Please follow and like us:
Actress hugging toy robot
Calendar, Children, July 19, Performing arts, Theatre

Children’s Theatre: My Robot

6 – 14 July @ Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Presented by Barking Gecko Theatre ·

A show about making new friends – literally! When Ophelia moves with her family to the seaside, she’s not impressed. She doesn’t like the beach, misses her old home and thinks the people in this town are pretty strange. While unpacking her room she discovers a mysterious box full of gadgets, parts and pieces, and a strange note that reads ‘You. Make. Me.’

Her curiosity gets the better of her and she spends all night assembling the objects into Olivetti, a robot with a typewriter chest and an alarm clock heart. Made up of pieces, but more than the sum of her parts.

My Robot takes audiences of all ages on a rambunctious adventure filled with robot antics, laughter, daring rescues and bewildered parents, all told with the care and artistry synonymous with Barking Gecko’s award-winning shows.

by Finegan Kruckemeyer

Saturday 6 July 5.00pm
Tuesday 9 July 5.00pm
Thursday 11 July 10:00am (Gentle performance), 1.00pm
Friday 12 July 10:00am (Auslan performance), 1.00pm
Saturday 13 July 10:00am, 1.00pm
Sunday 14 July 11:00am

More info
W: www.barkinggecko.com.au/play/my-robot/
E:  gecko@barkinggecko.com.au

 

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:
Actress hugging toy robot
Children, Features, News

Kids Winter Gig Guide

“Bring your rain poncho and wear noisy shoes,” the instructions read. Now that sounds like an intriguing art installation.

Contemporary artist Marnie Orr is running school holiday workshops at the Art Gallery of WA and they are all about rain. From July 10-19 children will use their bodies and found materials to brew up a storm in an immersive exploration of rain. The AGWA workshop is one of many art activities for children launching as Perth’s creative community gears up for school holidays.

The State Theatre Centre  is brimming with events. On July 13 the building will come alive with Aboriginal art, poetry, films and culture to celebrate Naidoc Day.  And between July 6-14 the theatre will be overrun with robots as Barking Gecko take over the building. A season of Finegan Kruckmeyer’s show My Robot  (read Seesaw’s review here) will be complemented by some very cool free classes. Kids can flex their engineering and design skills by building a Lego robot, then fight it out in the Battle Arena with other young programmers. In the Super Heroes Workshops kids and adults work together using drama and creative thinking to solve problems.

Robots battle it out at Barking Gecko’s Robot Workshop

From August 13  – 16  the State Theatre will present a production of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts.  Roald Dahl’s classic reworking of The Three Little PigsCinderellaLittle Red Riding HoodSnow WhiteGoldilocks and Jack and the Beanstalk  is being brought to the stage by Shake and Stir Theatre.

There is an enormous range of art classes at Fremantle Arts Centre for children and teenagers: photography, cartoons, pottery, anime and mosaic to list just a few. And you can check out the work of 2018’s Year 12 students in Pulse Perspectives, (reviewed by Seesaw here) in an exhibition at the Art Gallery of WA.

Don’t forget to include some musical magic in your school holiday fun. The WA Youth Jazz Orchestra will present Jazz for Juniors at His Majesty’s Theatre July 9 & 10. These fun-filled concerts introduce young children to the concepts of jazz music and the instruments the musicians play. Best of all, everyone gets the chance to try out some instruments built for small hands.

Be inspired by some of WA’s best young musicians as the WA Youth Orchestra and conductor Benjamin Northey perform a concert of Australian and Russian music, including the world premiere of a piece by Australian composer Melody Eötvös. Tickets don’t come much cheaper than this for a full symphonic concert and you can be guaranteed a passionate performance.

At UWA’s Conservatorium of Music kids can leap into the world of percussion at the Discover! Percussion workshop at UWA on July 10, or a saxophone bootcamp with Emma McPhilemy on the 12-13th.

A fusion of dance and puppetry in Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s Fox. Photo supplied.

And of course Spare Parts Puppet Theatre will perform puppet shows in Fremantle throughout the holidays. Their show this time is the story of the unexpected friendship between a magpie and a dog. Fox is a fusion of puppetry and dance that will take you on a journey through scorched scrub and ochre desert where the true meaning of friendship and loyalty will be discovered.

WA’s performing and visual arts companies are reaching out this winter to engage young people with the arts. There’s no better time to dive in!

Pictured top: A real robot is part of the cast in Barking Gecko’s My Robot. Photo supplied.

Please follow and like us:
Single dancer to the right of image
August 19, Calendar, Dance, July 19, Performing arts

Dance: Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand

31 Jul – 3 Aug @ State Theatre Centre of WA ·
Presented by Bangarra Dance Theatre ·

Bangarra Dance Theatre celebrates its landmark 30th anniversary season this year with Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand; a stunning display of contemporary dance embarking on the company’s largest national tour from June to October.

Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand is a three-part program, combining a re-staging of Frances Rings’ monumental Unaipon (Clan, 2004), Stamping Ground by acclaimed Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, and a powerful collection of dance stories – to make fire – from the company’s 30-year history curated by Bangarra Artistic Director Stephen Page and Head of Design, Jacob Nash.

These works will be performed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from across Australia,  who come together as a creative clan to harness a shared spirit and deliver a program representative of the world’s stage and the company’s best work.

More info:
www.ptt.wa.gov.au/venues/state-theatre-centre-of-wa/whats-on/bangarra-30-years-of-sixty-five-thousand/

Please follow and like us:
Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

An exhilarating ride

Review: Rachel Arianne Ogle, precipice ·
Studio Underground, State Theatre of WA, 29 May ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

Silence.
Two thin beams of light mark the stage with a giant “x”. A dancer in each corner.
Standing. Waiting.

From the opening moments of precipice, local independent choreographer Rachel Arianne Ogle places the viewer on edge. The prolonged silence at the start of the piece – before two of the four dancers tip off-balance into a run – sets the scene for a work in which movement, light and sound unite to repeatedly push the dancers and, by extension, the audience to that edge… to the precipice.

It’s a wild ride; visceral and invigorating. Though the work is abstract, there are clear arcs – sensual rather than narrative. And though precipice is unquestionably a contemporary dance work – the movement is often athletic in that way that makes you draw your breath sharply – it’s the deft interweaving of the choreography with the lighting and visual design by Benjamin Cisterne and score/soundscape by Luke Smiles that makes the ride feel so immersive.

Niharika Senapati and Tyrone Robinson in the 2014 season of 'precipice'..
The female dancers become perilous dolls: Niharika Senapati and Tyrone Robinson in the 2014 season of ‘precipice’.. Photo: Traianos Pakioufakis.

And finally, though it is designed around ramping up the senses, there is a poetic quality that infiltrates precipice. Now the stage is sliced in two by one of those beams of light from the opening. Against a swathe of ghostly electronic sounds, we see a dancer (the wonderful Tyrone Robinson) twisting, falling, staggering, limping. On the other side of the line, the remaining three dancers (Niharika Senapati, Yilin Kong and Linton Aberle) move through a series of supine tilts, rolls and suspensions that trace circular patterns on the floor and through the air.

Those circular patterns repeat throughout; we see them again as the two female dancers move through balances in which their legs and arms bring to mind the hands of a clock marching endlessly through time.

Though it’s hard to pick favourite sections (there are many), the synchronised male-female duos are a highlight. Apparently immobile, the female dancers become perilous dolls, to be manipulated by the male dancers who diligently insert themselves between the women and the floor. This morphs into a dance of fanning and falling counterbalances as the lighting gently oscillates between warmth and cool. The strength and focus required to pull off this movement material is considerable and on opening night, Aberle, Kong, Robinson and Senapati ensured this section had the audience mesmerised.

Another memorable movement phrase sees the dancers lie across one another as though their bodies have been plaited. To a soundscape of lightly pattering beats interspersed with electronic surges, a pattern of planks and folds ripples through the quartet; a strange caterpillar labouring through a field of light circles.

Storm Helmore, Tyrone Robinson, Imanuel Dado and Niharika Senapati in the 2014 season of 'precipice. Photo: Traianos Pakioufakis
Though the work is abstract, there are clear arcs: Storm Helmore, Tyrone Robinson, Imanuel Dado and Niharika Senapati in the 2014 season of ‘precipice. Photo: Traianos Pakioufakis

There is relatively little to separate audience and performer at the Studio Underground and in the penultimate scenes of precipice, the energy from the stage feels encompassing. Engine-like noises become increasingly loud and urgent as the dancers variously move as one, separate, pause, and explode into the space. The tension builds and builds until, with a blinding flash of light, it hits an almost unbearable peak. No spoilers – you’ll have to see the show to find out what happens next.

As aforementioned precipice depends heavily on the physical and mental discipline of its dancers. On opening night Aberle, Kong, Robinson and Senapati gave an outstanding performance.

This is not precipice’s first outing. The work was originally presented in the same theatre in 2014. As Ogle notes, it is rare that independent work is granted a second outing. Watching precipice for a second time, it’s easy to see why the State Theatre Centre of WA and Perth Theatre Trust chose to break with tradition and program this work.

Together with her creative team, Ogle has made a work that is exhilarating.

precipice plays the Studio Underground until June 1.

The sequel to precipice, i have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night, plays PICA, June 5-8.

Read a Q&A with Rachel Arianne Ogle about the two works here.

Pictured top is a scene from the 2014 season of ‘precipice’. Photo: Traianos Pakioufakis.

Please follow and like us: