10
Nov
14

Blak Electric

 

Blak Electric

QPAC & ACPA

QPAC Cremorne

6 – 8 November 2014

 

Reviewed by Michelle Bull

 

blakelectric

 

A great show can leave a lasting impression on me for weeks after its curtain falls. Sometimes it’s the right words at the right time, a display of brilliant skill, a moment of complete sincerity, and sometimes it’s something I can’t quite put my finger on, an energy that stays and burns particular moments and images into my heart and mind.

 

On Thursday night, I experienced this and more as students from the Aboriginal Centre of Performing Arts performed their new work Blak Electric. Playing to a full and vocal audience at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, Director Stephen Lloyd Helper and these young artists propel this work forward with an enthusiasm and force that is undeniably likeable and equally as thought provoking.

 

The work explores the personal journeys of young Indigenous Australians leaving their homes and their loved ones to chase their dreams in the urban chaos of the city. Through each of the character’s journeys, we see these young people discover their identity and strength through a connection to culture, the land and ultimately each other.

 

Featuring song, dance and drama, Blak Electric showcases the skill of these young developing artists who perform with heart and vivacity, displaying versatile skill across the art forms. The personal connections between the artists and story are tangibly felt through sincere and thoughtful performances that contest the idea of stereotypes and lead to a more positive message. Poetic compositions written and performed by the students express this personal relationship to the work.

 

While a deeper conversation runs through the production, a sense of fun and cheekiness throughout makes for a joyful and highly engaging piece of theatre.

 

Leonard Donahue in his cheeky role as The Sweeper adds a dash of contemporary Shakespeare to his portrayal of his adorable Puck-like character, charming the audience in the delivery of physical comedy and drawing our attention to the messages embedded in each scene.

 

His continued clean-up throughout the production leads to a particularly poignant moment towards the end of the work where the entire cast is needed to move the weight of his broom. This reference to the power and strength in community once again drives this message of connectedness home.

 

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With a live band providing dynamic musical accompaniment, the ensemble is strong, and enhanced by some standout vocals delivered with control and heartfelt musicality. Original composition Blue in my Heart (written by music student Manduway Dutton) is a standout moment, beautifully delivered by vocalist Naomi Summers whose performance shows maturity beyond her years.

 

Energetic choreography by Niki-J Price, Bradley Chatfield, Nik Hills and Andrew Toby weaves indigenous culture with contemporary forms and pulses with life, the final ensemble song Blak Electric infectiously joyful and a rousing end to the production.

 

Blak Electric is a fantastic and refreshing voice for young Australian theatre that engages, provokes and inspires with its joyful message of connectedness and strength. The students of Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts are fearlessly talented and filled with a passion and enthusiasm for their art that I know will see them continue to grow as young artists and inspire all who have the opportunity to be a part of that journey.

 

 

 

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