Archive for the 'Music' Category

11
Apr
18

Alchemy

 

Alchemy

Zen Zen Zo & Festival 2018

Southbank Cultural Forecourt

April 5 – 8 2018

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

ALCHEMY is the fourth collaboration between renowned Australian composer/musician Richard Grantham and leading contemporary performance company, Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre. ALCHEMY is an exploration of the ancient process of transforming base metal into gold. A potent metaphor for the Commonwealth Games, ALCHEMY celebrates the journey towards realizing our full potential, and the power of transformation. The dancers move like shamans or spirit walkers along the path, weaving their way through the inspirational soundtrack, until they finally “spin out of nothingness scattering stars like dust” in the dramatic climax. This is a moving performance work that is a meditative homage to the long passage towards greatness.

 

The highlight of Brisbane’s Festival 2018 – a performing arts program staged at Southbank Cultural Forecourt to coincide with the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games – was Alchemy, a little show with a lasting impact, bringing butoh back to Brisbane.

 

Zen Zen Zo’s ALCHEMY brings our imagination and our senses to life, melding startlingly original live music – a living, breathing, beating-heart score – and ancient movement to stir our souls, light our hearts and transform our view of ourselves in the world.

 

 

Alchemy is a stunning sensory contemporary performance showcasing Zen Zen Zo’s unique brand of movement and original live music to create a world in which audiences feel free to lose themselves in wonder, and linger in a soulful, joyful experience long after the lights have gone down.

 

Undergoing some transformation themselves, the company has focused on the training arm of the business for a number of years, and also on developing new projects including taking to New Zealand for the first time, their renowned rigorous actor training residency, Stomping Ground, and reconfiguring their popular internship program for inclusion in the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Master of Professional Practice (Performing Arts)

 

This production boasts a current student of the course and two graduates from the inaugural year in 2017 (and this review is written by another!), further testament to Lynne Bradley’s proven track record of training and mentoring multi-skilled performing artists of the highest calibre in this country and overseas. 

 

USC would do well to start shouting about their Masters courses in Performing Arts and Creative Writing

 

 

Alchemy sees a continuation of the collaborative relationship between Zen Zen Zo and composer/musician, Richard Grantham, and brings on board another couple of gifted Australian composers in Iain Grandage (When Time Stops, With Love and Fury, The Rabbits, The Secret River) and the Sunshine Coast’s Joshua Curtis.

 

While DUSK had a festival audience entranced during its meditative moments, Alchemy lures with more potent force an entirely new crowd to its cross-cultural open-air experience, fusing traditional butoh and contemporary classical music by way of an original composition, and a compelling performance by Curtis.

 

With the addition of Grantham’s viola crying and lilting and lifting its exquisite voice, the bold essence of this work takes us beyond ordinary and into ecstasy before we’re released and dropped gently back into a more contemplative place. Incredibly sensual and cinematic in some of its transitions, the music resulting from this meeting of minds is a truly evocative gift. Even re-reading, it sounds as if I’m overstating the fact…until you’ve heard it. And you’ve not heard anything like it since the pairing of Aaron Hopper and Kacey Patrick-Bare AKA Stringmansassy (Aaron’s stunning solo album is available on iTunes).

 

 

But first, without a sound, other than the murmurs of the audience members as they – the children first, always the children first – look up to take in white painted performers in lush costumes of red and silver layered robes (designed by Bill Haycock) and red full-circle skirts beneath (designed by Kaylee Gannaway, who very kindly made me a black one for opening nights…and for twirling), the performers, elegant and other-worldly, slow-walk to take up positions against the city lights and the ever-changing Brisbane River.

 

While this is a perfectly picturesque backdrop for a 20-minute public performance as part of a larger event, the open-air venue is less than ideal. Performance spaces placed too closely together left techies with little control over the sound bleeding from multiple stages, resulting in competing productions rather than a program of complementary and perfectly timed events to be seen and appreciated as separate entities.

 

With so many years of successful Brisbane Festival outdoor staging inside the same perimeter, you’d think there’d be enough experience on the ground to avoid any rookie errors. But the opening night performance was unable to go ahead due to the sound from the nearby Orbit Stage drowning out Alchemy’s soundtrack and thus, the performers’ cues, and adding insult to injury, show times throughout the weekend were continuously updated in a last-ditch effort to solve the problem. It’s actually amazing that anyone at all found themselves in the right place at the right time to experience Alchemy.

 

If you missed it (or if you saw it and loved it), get onto the company’s Facebook page or send an email and demand its return. There’s nothing quite like a return season by popular demand! While you’re at it, demand that it also comes to Ocean Street and NOOSA alive! (The only footage available for the moment is embedded below, a sneak peek at rehearsal, very brightly lit!).

 

It’s interesting to note that during the process, a question arose around the “pop-up” nature of the work, with the assumption perhaps that a public performance would be (should be?) light and funny. Hmmm… The company’s Artistic Director and director of this production, Lynne Bradley, responded, “We do do comedy, but everything we do is attempting to dig deeper, not flit across the surface of life.”

 

Indeed, the performers resist flitting and move fluidly, like liquid gold, with Gina Limpus contributing warm vocal harmonies to complement Curtis’s early melody before joining other accomplished physical performers, Travis Wesley and Jamie Kendall, in an extended sequence of the fluttering (fluttering being vastly different to flitting), floating, falling, rising and twirling that had us entranced during DUSK, as well as sharper, more angular and deeply grounded gesture. Limpus is captivating and not just because she’s front and centre, holds the audience gaze with ease.

 

WE COME SPINNING OUT OF NOTHINGNESS

SCATTERING STARS

LIKE DUST.

RUMI.

 

Zen Zen Zo’s signature performance style begs us to respond emotionally rather than letting us off the hook with an easy narrative. When asked about this type of very visceral contemporary performance, we’re likely to respond with “It was beautiful!” or “It was amazing!” or “It was so moving…” without being able to explain exactly what it was about. The intention is not to offer just one hero’s story with its happy ending but to inspire and slightly – or deeply – unsettle, urging us to look inwards and to consider our own stories, recognising which of those are limiting or damaging, and which will help us not only to survive in this world of overload, but to thrive and find our way to gold. 

 

 

Images by XS Entertainment

#iPhoneonly

 

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20
Mar
18

HOTA – Home of the Arts Officially Opens with Tim Minchin

HOTA – Home of the Arts officially opens with Tim Minchin in free open-air concert

 

Tim Minchin 2018 HOTA: Lexi Spooner LEXIMAGERY.

 

Australia’s brilliant showman and provocateur, the internationally acclaimed Tim Minchin performed a history-making first concert on HOTA’s spectacular outdoor stage on Saturday evening, to a capacity audience. Saturday’s special free concert – Minchin’s first in Australia for two years – officially launched the HOTA outdoor program for 2018.

 

 

HOTA, Home of the Arts officially came to life on the Gold Coast last month, with the announcement of the new name, introduction of the spectacular new outdoor stage and release of the Outdoor Program featuring big names, collaborations and local talent. Saturday’s concert marked the beginning of an exciting new era for the Gold Coast.

 

 

Tim Minchin 2018 HOTA: Tyronne Fitzgerald LEXIMAGERY.

 

Other standouts in the 2018 program include the Concert for the Planet on Saturday, March 24, and then concerts by Australian music legend Neil Finn, the mighty Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and in a major coup for the region, multi-award winner and pioneer, musician and film director, Laurie Anderson will leave her home in New York to take up residency at HOTA.

 

Tim Minchin 2018 HOTA: Lexi Spooner LEXIMAGERY.

 

Tim Minchin 2018 HOTA: Lexi Spooner LEXIMAGERY.

 

“A new name, a spectacular new venue, and a wonderfully energised new program comes as the result of many years of planning and hard work by multiple teams and a huge commitment from the City of Gold Coast,” said HOTA Chair Robyn Archer AO.

 

 

“The Tim Minchin concert this weekend is the inspirational beginning of a new era for the Gold Coast, for both its residents and its millions of visitors. At last, the sixth largest city in Australia has created a brilliant state-of-the-art platform for the commissioning, producing and presenting of the most exciting artists from the region, the nation and the world,” she said.

 

Tim Minchin 2018 HOTA: Tyronne Fitzgerald LEXIMAGERY.

 

13
Mar
18

Converge

Converge

Expressions Dance Company

With Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University

Conservatorium Theatre, South Bank

March 10 – 17 2018

 

Reviewed by Ruth Ridgway

 

 

Programs such as Converge are essential—a choreographer not only has to have talent, they need to practise their art; it is through these experiences that they can learn their craft and develop distinct choreographic voices for now and into the future.

Natalie Weir

Artistic Director, Expressions Dance Company

 

In its Converge program, Expressions Dance Company gives four choreographers a chance to create new works, as well as to collaborate with emerging composers and an ensemble of 16 musicians performing live on stage. This is the Queensland Conservatorium’s first such opportunity to work with a contemporary dance company, and a rewarding experience for performers and audience alike.

 

The first piece on the program is by Melbourne-based Stephanie Lake, who is now an established choreographer with her own company. Her high-energy Ceremony, originally conceived as an abstract expression of the music (by György Ligeti, Chinary Ung, Javier Alvarez and Steve Reich), evokes the intricacies of fast-moving machinery, its pace and varying rhythms sweeping the audience along with it.

 

 

Ceremony is an exhilarating experience, particularly the sequence for the dancers alone, using body percussion and breath, followed by the hypnotic energy of Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood. Together, the six dancers and the musicians create complex rhythms, intertwining movement and patterns of coalescing and unfolding with magnetic precision and energy. The green and white costumes designed by company member Alana Sargent — tunics, shorts, kilts and Tshirts or singlets — have a sporty style that suits the energetic movement.

 

Of the four works in Converge, Lake’s is the most polished and tightly connected to the music.

 

Second and third on the program are works by two of Expressions’ own dancers: Richard Causer and Jake McLarnon. Causer worked with composers Isabella Gerometta, Padraig Parkhurst and Michal Rosiak, and McLarnon with Tanya Jones and Jarvis Miller.

 

 

Causer’s Imposters is about layers of identity, and how we show different layers in different circumstances. Sargent’s costume design contributes to the visually intriguing expression of this idea: pale orange lampshade-shaped skirts with a reinforced hoop in the hemline can be inverted to conceal the dancers’ upper body and heads.

 

A pile of lemons was another symbol of layered identity, the lemon’s enticing colour and smell concealing its sourness and bitterness. The dancers bite into the fruit and spit out chunks onto the floor. (Was this inspired by Will Holt’s 1960s song Lemon Tree with its refrain Lemon tree very pretty …?)

 

 

Elise May is a powerful figure in this work, crouching amongst the lemons, shielding her face, and showing a fear of the other five cast members, which is reciprocated. At times, the dancers appeared to be performing a surreal ritual, twirling like dervishes in their long skirts.

 

Jake McLarnon’s Isochronism is a promising choreographic debut. This duo expresses the theme of performing movements at the same time, or, like a pendulum, performing the same movement within the same time irrespective of how big the movement is – like dancers of different sizes when dancing in time to music. McLarnon also refers to the work of artist Jasper Hills as an inspiration for his piece.

 

 

The movement is athletic and close knit, and on first night was danced by Scott Ewen and McLarnon with a masculine power and energy. It would be interesting to see how the duo differs when danced by a male and a female dancer, as originally cast.

 

Xu Yiming’s Aftermath completes the program, his involvement in Converge being part of EDC’s Chinese Australian Dance Exchange Project. Aftermath brings a complete change of mood and style, although it has a surreal quality in common with Causer’s earlier piece.

 

It shows four people struggling with what life throws at them — a perplexing mix of demands and responses, introduced by the dancers laughing wildly, yelling orders and responding with actions. In keeping with these random challenges and the sometimes clumsy way we meet them, the movement is often hunched and awkward or grotesque, interspersed with moments of fluidity.

 

In contrast, the music (Georgi Gurdjieff/Thomas de Hartmann) is serene and meditative, with its plangent chords and echoes of religious ritual. The feeling is of an underlying harmony behind all the struggle, which is worth it in the end.

 

As always, the Expressions’ dancers give a powerful performance. The dancers are a strong ensemble, with Elise May’s dramatic force, Alana Sargent’s razor-sharp energy, and Jake McLarnon’s expansive strength particularly standing out.

 

With the musicians upstage centre, and the rest of the stage bare, the lighting by Ben Hughes is crucial in creating the different moods and environments for the four pieces.  The musicians are softly lit, but still clearly visible, enabling the audience to experience both the way they convert movement into sound, and the way the dancers respond to the sound with movement. Feeling this interaction adds another dimension to the performance.

 

 

Converge is a program of great variety, with many intriguing and exhilarating moments.

 

 

 

 

Converge Masterclass with Jake McLarnon –

 

Saturday 17 March, 2pm-3:30pm at Expressions Dance Company Studio, Fortitude Valley

 

An insightful 90-minute workshop with Expressions Dance Company (EDC) ensemble member and choreographer, Jake McLarnon. The workshop will explore the creative process behind Jake’s new contemporary dance work for Converge, EDC’s thrilling first season for 2018.

Foundational contemporary dance training required.

Tickets are $30
A $10 discount is available to the masterclass for patrons who have purchased tickets to the performance.

BUY MASTERCLASS TICKETS

 

19
Feb
18

APAM 2018 begins!

 

APAM 2018 CEMENTS BRISBANE’S PLACE ON THE GLOBAL STAGE

 

The Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM 2018) officially opened today at Brisbane Powerhouse, an event that has brought an influx of visitors to the city and will shine a light on Australian arts and culture.

 

APAM is Australia’s leading internationally focused industry event for contemporary performing arts, held this year from 19 to 23 February. More than 670 delegates from 39 countries have been warmly welcomed onto country through song, story and dance, and celebrating Australia’s oldest living culture. They will witness extraordinary contemporary performing artists and companies present 46 (15 Pitches and 31 Showcases) Australian and New Zealand showcases and pitches.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) was an example of Council’s vision for Brisbane to become a premier location for thriving creative industries in Australia.

“Brisbane is proud to again host this exciting creative showcase, which will welcome hundreds of delegates from 39 different countries to our New World City,” Cr Quirk said.

“APAM will give our international visitors an opportunity to see why Brisbane is a top destination for arts and culture and create more leisure and lifestyle opportunities for Brisbane residents.

“It is fantastic to celebrate another exciting event for our city’s creative and performing arts scene.”

 

APAM will host over 265 Australian and New Zealand artists and companies across the range of performing arts genres, who will present or pitch their work to festival directors, venue managers and program executives from around the world to find touring partners and investors to take their shows to audiences in Australia and overseas.

 

This will include renowned Sydney hip hop dance artist and choreographer Nick Power’s work Between Tiny Cities; a hilarious and deeply moving work about family, language and culture from acclaimed Australian actor Jimi Bani and Queensland Theatre;  leaders in contemporary circus Casus showcase their work Driftwood in a dazzling journey of explosive encounters, hidden looks and humorous discoveries, while All The Queens Men’s The Coming Out Ball blends showbiz bells and whistles, community celebration, heartfelt storytelling dinner and dancing.

 

 

At the opening event guests were given the opportunity to experience one of the FREE events on offer to the general public during this week long industry event.  String Symphony, a large-scale interactive performance installation, hand-woven using more than one kilometre of rope uses puppetry to explore connection, community and collaboration. Another free evening event for general public access will be A Night Across Asia (Thursday 22 February ), with performances by SsingSsing (Korea),  Senyawa (Indonesia) and Hiroaki Umeda (Japan) on the Turbine Platform, Brisbane Powerhouse.

 

 

Australia Council CEO Tony Grybowski said; “Since the Council established APAM more than 20 years ago it has grown to become one of Australia’s leading performing arts platforms, attracting more than 1200 influential Directors, Executives, Creatives, Associate Producers, CEOs, General and Program Managers, Artists and Agents from around Australia and the globe. This is the third time we have partnered with Brisbane Powerhouse on this signature event, which is a key part of our commitment to showcasing vibrant new Australian art and investing in the capacity of the sector to reach new markets.”

Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development Kate Jones said APAM would round off a blockbuster summer of events in Queensland.

“APAM is a fantastic contemporary arts experience which will showcase Brisbane’s cultural scene and will attract  visitors to Queensland. It will cap off what has been a spectacular summer of events in Brisbane, from the Rugby League World Cup and the Battle of Brisbane 2 to the Brisbane International, Brisbane Global Rugby Tens, and now APAM. The event will also help kick off this year’s It’s Live! In Queensland calendar, which is expected to generate a $780 million economic boost for Queensland in 2018.

In addition to providing the premier platform for Australian and New Zealand contemporary performing arts companies and artists to build international and national tours, APAM champions the ongoing exchange of ideas and dialogue.   It is through this philosophy a focused program of ongoing First Nations Exchange, the innaugual Performing Asia program as well as our First Timers program, all offering a deeper engagement for delegates were created.

 

Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Queensland Government was delighted to welcome APAM back to Brisbane in 2018, reinforcing Queensland’s reputation as a world-class arts and cultural destination.

 

“APAM provides the unique opportunity to showcase our local talent to the rest of the world, and I congratulate the six Queensland artists and companies selected to pitch this year, including Bleached Arts, Casus Circus, Dancenorth, Leah Shelton, Queensland Theatre, and Thomas E.S. Kelly,” Ms Enoch said.

“I am also delighted that BlakDance, supported by the Queensland Government, will be providing increased visibility, mobilisation and promote outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander producers and artists at this year’s event.”

Representatives from London International Theatre Festival (UK),  Théâtre National de Chaillot (France),  Tanz in August (Germany), National Arts Centre (Canada) and China Shanghai International Arts Festival will join Brisbane Powerhouse Artistic Director Kris Stewart at one of the most popular activities at the market.  A series of curated ‘Talking Circle’ sessions also provide participants the chance to uncover exciting and up-to-date information about topics and regions relevant to their interests and touring objectives.

 

Brisbane Powerhouse Artistic Director Kris Stewart said Brisbane Powerhouse was once again proud to be hosting APAM Australia’s leading biennial industry event for contemporary performing arts, showcasing the very best performances from Australian and New Zealand.

 

“APAM 2018 is the only arts market that provides international presenters with the opportunity to see and find out about contemporary performance works by Australian and New Zealand arts companies and independent artists. It showcases new Australian performances including First Nations and provides an opportunity to collaborate and secure tours that will wow national and international audiences,” said Mr Stewart.

 

APAM 2018 will be presented at Brisbane Powerhouse with additional events held across local partner venues including the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Sofitel Brisbane Central.

 

APAM 2018 is presented by the Australia Council for the Arts in partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse.  Brisbane City Council is the Principal Supporter of APAM. The Queensland Government, through Arts Queensland and Tourism and Events Queensland, also proudly supports the event. A Night Across Asia and the performance by SsingSsing is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Korea Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

 

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19
Oct
17

One The Bear

 

One the Bear

La Boite Theatre Company

Campbelltown Arts Centre and Black Honey Company

Roundhouse Theatre

October 10 -21 2017

 

Reviewed by Katy Cotter

 

 

One the Bear is a magical journey about identity and discovering your true self. It is fun, unexpected, loud and proud, and full of heart. Growing up, pursuing your dreams and learning who your real friends are is hard, and some of us get lost along the way. This show presented by La Boite Theatre Company, Campbelltown Arts Centre and Black Honey Company validates the importance of remembering your history and where you came from, and celebrates individuality.

 

The story follows the friendship of two grizzly bears named One (Candy Bowers) and Ursula (Nancy Denis), who live in a grungy alleyway next to a dumpster, spending most of their time keeping out of sight from the “Hunters.” In this dystopian world, capturing bears is paramount for humans to survive. They are skinned, even their organs are used in medicines. One vividly remembers the day when her mother was killed in front of her. It fills her belly with rage, but this little cub has hope, and dreams of a better future where bears are free to return to the forests. One has a passion for hip hop music and she and Ursula rap about their trials and tribulations.

 

 

When One is discovered by a hot shot producer, she walks a fine line between using her fame as a platform to give voice to the discrimination and torture of bears, and losing herself completely in the bright lights and screaming fans. She alters her appearance, gives into vanity and pride, and worse she abandons her friend Ursula. One finds herself being consumed by a world that takes advantage of the weak to make money. She finally hits rock bottom, roaring out against it all, and returning to the dumpster. Ursula is there waiting and ready to help One find her purpose again.

 

 

Written wholly in rhyme by Candy Bowers and accompanied by an incredibly fresh and funky sound design by Kim “Busty Beatz” Bowers, this is a must-see show for young people. It delivers important messages regarding our time and how we view fame. People are urged to present the best version of themselves, and yet the media, the internet, Facebook and Instagram are filling our heads with idealistic and often unachievable ideas of happiness and success. One the Bear is a beautiful reminder to have the courage to define yourself and carve your own path.

 

 

Walking into the show, I was unsure what to expect, though I was pleasantly surprised at how invested I became in the story. There were moments the sound was loud and overpowered the performers, making it difficult to hear what they were saying. All the production elements ensnared the senses, particularly the stunning video projection by optikal bloc and Sarah Seahorse’s bright and bold costume designs.

 

 

Candy Bowers and Nancy Denis were next-level, never dropping their energy for a second. Their physicality was outstanding, you couldn’t look away for fear of missing something. Even though it was a tale of two bears, the message about friendship, identity and empowering women, were all too clear.

 

One the Bear is for the cubs, the next generation of strong, opinionated and passionate young feminists who will change the world. The audience fell in love with One and Ursula, and it was thrilling to see so many young people enjoying themselves. The emotional arc of this work is superb, and the reason you’ll leave the theatre filled with hope and a big smile on your face.   

   

15
Sep
17

Orpheus

 

Orpheus

Brisbane Festival & Datacom

The Tivoli

September 12 – 16 2017

 

Reviewed by Stephanie Fitz-Henry

 

 

What do you get when you cross a 1930s jazz music club in the middle of Paris with a tragic tale of Greek mythology? A delightfully whimsical and uniquely entertaining theatre experience that is sure to remain with you for a long time.

 

As I enter through the doors of The Tivoli for the Australian premiere of Little Bulb Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre’s production of Orpheus, it feels like walking through the clubs of 1930s Paris after midnight. The instantly recognisable French accordion melodies fill the space and set the tone for laissez-faire. French fashion adorns the floor. The staff and many of the guests have embraced the invitation to dress in feathered headbands, strings of pearls, pinstriped vests, braces and berets.

 

 

The allure of the Tivoli is intoxicating with the anticipation of a night of fun and frivolity, which intensified with the show starting almost half an hour behind schedule in true French style – not that anyone seems to notice. The main auditorium is set in true cabaret style where groups can enjoy table service. The rest of the audience is seated in rows around the periphery. The performers encourage the audience to move around the room and to enjoy the wine and French inspired food throughout the duration of the show.

 

 

From the moment this company steps onto the stage until the final curtain call, the show is peppered with a myriad of laugh-out-loud moments that carry us from one action to the next. The moments of hilarity will tickle the funny bone of even the most cynical of spectators.

 

The performers are so hilarious and tragic that you can’t help but laugh and cheer them on. It’s like watching a silent film of the same era. The music takes centre stage and steers the direction of the piece for the duration of the show. The intentional choreography of simplistic movement and gesture, and melodramatic facial expressions, is like watching Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom and is just as hysterical. The cast are all highly trained musicians who play double bass (Clare Beresford), violin (Miriam Gould), accordion (Shamira Turner), Piano/Organ (Charlie Penn), clarinet (Alexander Scott), percussion (Tom Penn) and guitar (Dominic Conway), who are led by the very funny and Peron-esque qualities of Eugenie Pastor (flute/swanee whistle). They skilfully use their comedic talents, physicality and harmonious voices to entertain us. The acts, scenes and settings are projected onto the stage to guide our journey amid the amusing commotion. 

 

The marriage of Hades and Persephone receives loud applause when re-enacted by 2 male cast members.

 

There is beauty and power in simplicity and this is one reason this production is so good. Clever use of striking costumes, props, puppets and masks (Max Humphries & Cheryl Brown), stunning lighting (Michael Odam) and an emotive set design (Mary Drummond) enhances and envelops the show. The focus is on the detail; its specificity brings authenticity to every moment of this production and conveys the company’s professionalism. The cast doesn’t take themselves seriously and performs the roles with incredible generousity, earning 2 curtain calls and a standing ovation.

 

All the way from the UK for the Brisbane Festival, this fabulous production is totally exclusive to Brisbane audiences for two final performances on Saturday at 2pm & 7:30pm. Orpheus is not just a show – it is an all-encompassing experience. Turn off the television and forget about the footy. This is the most fun you can have in 3 hours at the theatre and the best value ticket in town at Brisbane’s most cherished venue.

 

 

The Company

Double Bass: Clare Beresford

Guitar: Dominic Conway 

Violin: Miriam Gould

Piano/Organ: Charlie Penn

Percussion: Tom Penn

Flute/Swanee Whistle: Eugenié  Pastor 

Clarinet: Alexander Scott

Accordion: Shamira Turner 

 

The Orpheus Team

Written and Devised by: The Company
Directed by: Alexander Scott
Designer (Set & Costume): Mary Drummond
Sound Designer: Ed Clarke
Lighting Designer: Michael Odam
Mask and Puppets: Max Humphries and Cheryl Brown
Scenic Artist: Rebecca Chan
Production Manager: Daniel Palmer
Sound No.1: Thomas Wasley
Company Stage Manager: Laura Hammond
Deputy Stage Manager: Laura Page
Tech Swing: Mitch Hargreaves
Tour Producer: Rosie Scudder
Little Bulb Producer: Fiona Baxter

In association with Farnham Maltings

 

The VAN DIJK 3

Jan Van Dijk: Violin
Miranda Deutsch: Guitar
Rick Caskey: Bass

03
Sep
17

DUSK

 

DUSK

Restrung 2017: The Viola Cloning Project & Zen Zen Zo

Restrung Productions

Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre

Saturday August 19 2017

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

 

DUSK is the third collaboration between renowned Australian composer and improviser Richard Grantham (aka The Viola Cloning Project) and leading contemporary performance company, Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre.

 

DUSK is an exploration of the liminal, the space between, the threshold which facilitates transformation. The dancers move like shamans or spirit walkers between the light and dark, life and death, music and silence, weaving a shadowy web through the bitter-sweet original score of Richard Grantham’s live looped performance.

 

I’m becoming more and more familiar with Zen Zen Zo’s work from the inside. I’m completing my masters this year with founder and Co-Artistic Director, Dr Lynne Bradley, and training weekly with the company. A small group from the masters course recently spent time in Japan with Lynne to train and perform with Akaji Maro’s acclaimed butoh company, Dairakudakan, and we came back to experience DUSK.

 

A close collaboration for Restrung Festival with the extraordinary composer and performer, Richard Grantham, DUSK features original music and movement to lull the senses and at the same time, heighten the live experience. Grantham’s compositions are built from looped layers over melodic drones. From a basic viola line, the increasing complexity is deceptive; it’s such easy, meditative music to listen to, to dream to…

 

Having spent the best part of the last decade performing and touring with a multitude of bands, Grantham has become an adept improviser upon a large number of stringed, keyed and woodwind instruments. The loop recorder and other effects pedals turn his customised five-string carbon-fibre viola into a one-man string and percussion orchestra.

 

Grantham also sings into the viola, or across it, creating a mesmerising, ancient effect, not unlike spiritual singer, Sheila Chandra (now mute), bringing the piece to an intoxicating conclusion, which at both performances held the audience in silent reverie for the longest moment before thunderous applause, with many up standing.

 

Lynne was thrilled to work once again with Grantham. She told me, “This is my third time collaborating with the amazingly talented Richard Grantham. He is such a joy – huge talent, small ego, and willing to try anything! His openness and willingness to explore experimental contemporary performance modalities make him the perfect creative collaborator.”

 

The challenge for Lynne’s performers in this production was to stay in “minor” and allow Grantham the spotlight. Indeed, our focus at first appears to be on Grantham, but our eyes are naturally drawn to movement and it’s the dance of the four we mainly follow, as they meld in and out of the light, the shadows, and the haze; evocative states that have been sensitively and imaginatively realised by Simon Woods, while Grantham remains front and centre, beneath shades of white, on a raised dais for the duration.

 

 

The dancers are primordial, curled and rolling into the stage space from the wings. Unfurling, they gradually come to standing, demonstrating superb control and focus, which their (Suzuki and butoh) training brings. Their body stockings barely visible, we notice intricate vines of delicate blossoms winding around the bodies. When they step into Kaylee Gannaway’s luscious red full circle skirts, there is palpable excitement, because anyone who’s seen Zen Zen Zo’s In the Company of Shadows will know the joy of anticipation preceding Sufi whirling, to which these skirts are so well suited. I was terrified to try it, but to finish my first ever training session with the company we whirled for 25 minutes! The sensation was a long-lost memory of a feeling from childhood, spinning in the tall grass beyond the back yard, with arms outstretched until we fell down dizzy and giggling and crying out, “Again, again, again!” Throughout DUSK the dancers retain this sense of joyful abandonment, and also offer a sense of immense peace and calm, and quiet contemplation.

 

“I invited four of my favourite performers to appear in DUSK,” Lynne explains; “long-term collaborator Jamie Kendall, Travis Weiner, Gina Tay Limpus and Aurora Liddle-Christie. Their stage presence is mesmerising – I never fail to be profoundly moved watching them dance.” She says, “I can only equate it to the sensation of falling into a well which travels deep inside the earth – their connection to profundity is palpable.”

 

 

Their connection to profundity earns our complete commitment to the performance, regardless of whatever it was we might have been expecting. A loyal Zen Zen Zo fan might be surprised to see less of the grotesque, which is a bit of a butoh trademark and one that is embraced by the company. But this is not that show. These gentle shadows offer a chance to pause and reflect on the quietude that escapes us on a daily basis. DUSK is a meditation; a contemplation and a chance to dismiss the noise.

 

DUSK is as simple and wondrous as the sun setting over the sea; it’s so beautifully realised, and exquisitely delivered by Grantham and Zen Zen Zo, and it gives us a sense that there is something more to life, something other-worldly; a precious in-between… If only we can come to a stop and allow ourselves to be immersed in the magic, if only from time to time, if only for a little while.

 




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