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Young Creatives Blog

My journey Within, with a side trip underground.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

  • Review

It was Wednesday the 10th, Festival eve, I was sitting in the green room at Kings Street Arts Centre waiting for my dance class to start, and as I looked through my diary at the three weeks that were to come, out of the corner of my eye I see Aditi Mangaldas and her ensemble of dancers, (a.k.a. the cast of Within) walk in to a rehearsal studio. I looked down at the words written my diary and I realised they were about to become a reality.

The next day I attended the media call for Within. Having never been to a media call before I was excited to experience something new. As it turns out the ten seconds you see on the news of journalists tearing apart politicians over new policies is quite different to a media call for an arts festival. The great scenes in my head of hundreds of journalists trying to get every last piece of juicy gossip were soon crushed by the reality of what a media call is, and my realisation there’s not too many scandals surrounding the dance company. The dancers performed a short section from Unwrapped the second piece of the double bill, and then the media interviewed Aditi Mangaldas in a very tame, friendly manner. Despite being disappointed by what a media call actually is; getting to see the company from the best seats in the house was pretty exceptional, and got me excited to see the rest of the show. 

When I arrived back at the theatre to watch a dress rehearsal of Within, a series of technical difficulties and general theatre drama prohibited me from viewing the rehearsal, so a change of plans saw me end up going to the Studio Underground to the media call and dress rehearsal for The Object Lesson. When I woke up in the morning I can’t say I was expecting to sit on a cardboard box eating cheese and bread whilst I watched lettuce be cut with the blade of an ice-skate, but I can honestly say I was more than pleasantly surprised. When I first walked in to the venue I saw one of the most incredible sets, of what had to be made up of thousands of cardboard boxes, all stacked intricately on top of each other.  The boxes contain objects that had been sent in from members of the public ranging from aeroplane toiletry bags to stuffed animals, making me wonder if it was time to empty out my wardrobe of my stuffed toys that I haven’t touched in ten years. As I walked around in awe of the set, at that point I didn’t really care what the show was like because the set had already made the show and my day. The show was an absolute delight, with a series of events and stories that came out of nowhere, but seemed to flow impeccably. The final scene felt as if it dragged on slightly, but the pure absurdity of what I was watching, pulled me back in when I drifted off at moments. I would say you have to get yourself a ticket but the show has sold out, and I can understand why.

That night I returned to the theatre to watch Within. Watching the show I could understand the technical difficulties from earlier in the day because the lighting and set design for the show could have been a show in itself. When I had to write my first written response in year eight dance class I couldn’t believe they wanted me to talk about the lighting, but I would be more than happy to talk about the lighting in this show.The first piece Knotted combines classical kathak with contemporary technique in an amazing fusion. Mangaldas has taken the best components of kathak and given it a modern touch. The piece takes a universal theme, but as a result of events that occurred during its creation in India, has a very current issue at its core, and the combination of the two genres displays this beautifully. Unknotted, the second piece of the evening was a display of pure kathak, and a complete joy to watch. The dancers moved with such speed and precision that at times their limbs became a complete blur. I found that their movements were so mesmerising on mass that solo moments in the show just felt lacking in energy, and purpose. The dancers were joined on stage by four musicians who were sensational, however I wish they had been highlighted more and made a more integral part of the performance as they were a pure joy to listen to and watch.

The next day I headed back to the State Theatre Centre for a kathak workshop with the company dancers and musicians. It was amazing to see the instruments up close and personal and hear the quality of the sound from a few metres away. Having watched the performance I wasn’t expecting the workshop to be easy, however the most challenging part was when she asked us to create a variety of facial expressions that they use in traditional kathak from angry to jealous to brave. Despite my best efforts, they all looked the same and none of them were particularly great.

Every Brilliant Thing, Home and Refuse the Hour:

After hearing a number of glowing reviews from a number of people, I decided I had to go check out Every Brilliant Thing, at the State Theatre Centre. After the show I was raving to one of my friends who looked very puzzled when I said I saw a play about depression and suicide and it was hysterical.  The show took a sensitive issue; and had the audience in stitches, but did it in an incredibly sensitive manner, in a way that allowed the audience to engage without making the issue seem trivial. As someone who has a crippling fear of audience interaction, I was thoroughly unimpressed when I was called up on stage to play the vet who had to put down a seven year-olds dog. As I was called up on stage I was anxious that I would ruin the show for everyone, by not being an entertaining vet. However I overcame my fear and the audience laughed as I put down the dog (an audience member’s jacket) with a lethal dose of poison (an audience member’s pen)either as a result of my delightful charm and wit, or the fact that the show was just so brilliant that it didn’t really matter what I did up on stage. My hatred for audience interaction spreads to most aspects of my life and meeting new people, leaving my comfort zone and being the centre of attention are all things I avoid at all costs until I become very comfortable with the people I’m around and networking is a word that sends a shiver done my spine. However being a Young Creative has helped me to come out of my bubble and become a more confident person. As I’m writing this blog the Festival has only been going on for four days, but I’ve already had to go up on stage in front of an audience of complete strangers and go up to families at Home to hand out lanterns. I was not looking forward to either of these but by the end I felt that I had grown because of the experience and by the end of the Festival I might just be running up to strangers on the street.

Back to the show, before it starts audience members are given a number and a word or sentence. When the show’s lead character’s (whose name we never actually learn) mother first attempts suicide when he is seven, the lead character starts a list of everything that is brilliant in life, from staying up past your bedtime and watching TV to dressing up as a Mexican wrestler. I was 1,009 ‘dancing in public, fearlessly’, preceded by 1,008, ‘dancing in private’. The entries written by his girlfriend and later wife, Sam, had tears forming in my eyes, in their honesty and beauty. If Sam can open up about her feelings then I can overcome my fear of audience interaction and get up on stage and put down a dog. If you have a chance to see this amazing show, don’t think about it just go!

On Saturday night I headed in to the city to watch Home. After seeing The Giants open the Festival in 2015, I did not envy the job of Wendy Martin to try and live up to the spectacle that was The Giants. However she delivered in what was a truly spectacular show. Meeting with the other Young Creatives, a sense of anticipation was building amongst the crowd, and as the sun went down and the stage lights came up I knew I was in for one treat of an evening. The Welcome to Country was a beautiful moment, and as The Drones took to the stage straight after to blow the roof off, I realised that the programming was not going to play it safe, and I was pumped. The animations that were spread across the screen were incredible and gave the show a natural flow that took the night from an outdoor concert to the opening event of an arts festival. A personal highlight was Josie Boyle taking to the stage with nothing but sand, a glass table, a camera and her voice and managed to have the entire audience on the edge of their picnic blankets. John Butler and Tim Minchin were the two I was most looking forward to seeing and they did not disappoint. As Tim Minchin was singing and I turned around to see a procession of lanterns, I couldn’t help but feel so incredibly grateful to live in a beautiful city, where a community can gather together to create such an event that can touch the hearts of so many. It made me proud to see that throughout the show we acknowledged the fact that Western Australia is not perfect and we’ve done some pretty horrible things to anyone who’s not white, and I’m glad that were owning up and not trying to sweep any of that under the carpet. Western Australia has an indigenous population, and we have people that have come from across the sea, right from the 1800’s through to today, and were not all white, but we are all Western Australians. As I sat there among the crowds I felt like a Western Australian, and regardless of the colour of the crowd’s skin, or where they were born or how they came to live in WA, we are all Western Australians. I don’t think that Western Australia should be a place of hatred or ignorance, we’ve already contributed our fair share, but instead it should be a place of love, and sitting among the crowds at Home I felt nothing but love.

The next day I headed to the Perth Concert Hall to watch Refuse the Hour. In year eight English class we were handed Animal Farm by George Orwell and with my limited knowledge of communism and Russia’s history I found the book entertaining but nothing special. However picking it up recently with a much greater understanding of communism and Russia’s history I could understand why my teacher spent so long raving about in class. I feel as if it’s the same with Refuse the Hour, as when the show ended the audience, which was generally older than I was, seemed to have loved the show and thought, it was brilliant. I thought it was ok. My dance teacher once said to me ‘When you’re choreographing a piece remember audiences generally take a while to pick up on things, so you have to repeat things a few times until they pick up on what you’re trying to say.’ William Kentridge evidentially has never been in class with my dance teacher, because I was pretty hopeless at trying to pick up on what he was saying about the philosophy of time and I definitely needed it repeated, several times, or maybe the program should come with ‘The philosophy of time for dummies.’ The set was absolutely incredible, with drums being played hanging from the ceiling either by magic or technology I don’t understand, there was a live band, singers, video projections and dancers as well as Kentridge reciting his philosophy. There was so much to take in at one time and possibly too much. I would be trying to understand the philosophy, then I would be distracted by the projections, and then I would look at the dancers, and then the singers and I would realise I wasn’t listening to the philosophy anymore and I then couldn’t connect with what I was seeing. So I was in a bit of a constant struggle as to what to look at, for about 20 minutes when by that point I realised I was never going to understand what the show was about and I should just enjoy seeing the dancing, the set, the projections, the singing and the music and appreciate everything that the cast was doing to create the spectacle in front of my eyes, even if I couldn’t understand what I was watching. Maybe in 20 years I’ll have the chance to watch Refuse the Hour again and I’ll think it was as amazing as the majority of the audience did, but in the meantime I’ll just have to appreciate the beauty of what was unfolding in front of me from a rather un-academic viewpoint.

Young Creative: Dance

Written By Ariane Beyer