Posts Tagged ‘installation


The Paratrooper Project


The Paratrooper Project

Phluxus2 Dance Collective

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

June 25 to July 4 2015


Reviewed by Ruth Ridgway


Enter the trenches in this immersive new production…

Phluxus2 Dance Collective




The Paratrooper Project is promoted as an immersive experience, and this it certainly delivers. Described in the brief program notes as a dance theatre installation, it is the theatre that dominates.


War and conflict and their effects are the subject. Richard Matthaei, grandfather of Phluxus2’s Artistic Director Nerida Matthaei, was a paratrooper in World War II, and this work was inspired by mementoes he left behind.


The audience stood (or occasionally sat or lay) on the floor of the performance space in the Judith Wright Centre, with white parachutes and webbing suspended above us, sometimes billowing up and down, and covering the performers.


Their layered costumes (Lisa Fa’alafi) are all also white – pants, tunics, shirts, and military-looking coats with wide lapels. This makes the performers stand out amongst the audience, but could also connote ghostliness, death, and the afterlife.


the paratrooper project


The audience starts out standing huddled in a crowd under a tent-like parachute. Is it going to fall on us? Is there going to be sudden blackout? No, there are performers in there with us, they start speaking, and the parachute lifts.


The creators and performers – dancers Nerida Matthaei, Gareth Belling, Gabriel Comerford, and actor Margi Brown Ash – move through different areas of the performance space, the audience shifting (or being directed to shift) around them.


The sound design (Andrew Mills) includes clinking sounds like dishes or metal in a workshop, waves breaking, and a plaintive fragmentary tune.


Belling and Comerford represent soldiers or fighters, engaging in much violent, grappling movement, frequently crashing with full force onto the floor. They also enact roles of the wounded or dead, the torture victim, and the rescuer.


Matthaei is at first a grief-stricken woman, widowed by war; later, a chilling torturer; and then a rape victim. She and Brown Ash also speak of matters on the domestic front, such as tea and biscuits, and borrowing sugar.




Brown Ash is the dominant, compelling force in this work, her mesmerising authority and the power of her voice unequalled. In a surreal evocation of domesticity, she paces around while knitting and trailing an unravelling ball of wool behind her.


In this she echoes Madame Defarge, from Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, who incorporated the names of intended guillotine victims in her knitting, and also the Three Fates from Ancient Greek stories, who created and destroyed people’s lives by spinning and cutting thread.


Brown Ash also parodies a Churchillian wartime leader, exhorting and haranguing us; and huddles and flinches as a terrified torture victim.


This is not comfortable escapist theatre.


The audience is instructed, harangued, and physically directed around the space. Brown Ash took people by the hand and led them where they were meant to go, until the rest of us understood we were meant to follow. Others were invited to take part in some of the action.




Brown Ash orates at the end about the idea of war continuing on, and affecting us now. Moving amongst us, she then asks us to remember the dead, and give them a voice. Most of the audience engaged in a very personal way with this, seeming to forget where they were, and becoming totally absorbed in the moment.


This work is gripping and moving, and pulls you into its orbit.


Occasionally, though, the attention lapses when some parts go on a little too long (such as the dancers hurling themselves to the floor over and over at the end).




In Phluxus2’s previous work de-generator, the audience also followed the dancers around the space, but moved out of the way of the action without any guidance.


This current work is a more sophisticated and choreographed development of audience involvement. It is more powerful, covering more dimensions of experience, but also more coercive and controlling for the audience.






Metro Arts & Julie Vulcan

Metro Arts Basement

April 1 – 4 2014


Reviewed by Meredith McLean




We all take journeys in our lives. You might take a journey on the bus to work. You take a journey to the coast for a weekend away. Some of us go on personal journeys and find the tourist attractions of our own lives that help us change. When you close your eyes and dream, that is a different journey into the psyche all of its own. Sometimes we have a clear heading and know exactly where to go through these journeys. But people are afraid to admit most of the time we just drift along. Julie Vulcan’s durational performance encapsulates this in her experience called DRIFT.


Some journeys are clearer than others. Drift is not one of them. Prepare to be at first mystified, then petrified and finally unsatisfied. To be fair, each session of Drift offers something different so perhaps your experience would be different. But I can only share what I felt on my night drifting through on a strange vessel.


In the first phase, the mystification, we try to quietly tiptoe down the stairs into Metro Arts submerged basement theatre. The stage looks fragile and beautiful with the lights hanging about the rafters, and we are about to enter it. Lined up in the room are rows of beds covered in straw. Sure enough, it is our job to lie in them and wait.


During the phase of petrifaction, or perhaps a kinder word, purification, you are approached. You receive a strange edible bead in your mouth and Julie places wireless headphones on your head. Your mind is filled with ethereal music and voices. Meanwhile, Julie gives you a surprisingly relaxing hand massage. I found myself drifting off while she massaged my hand and filled my nostrils with sweet, hand oils. Once you have been completely mesmerised by this experience she covers you in a silvery space blanket and leaves you to rest.


And that’s all. After that you lie there, drifting in uncertainty, “Do I go?”, “Do I stay here?”, “What’s next?”. But that is all. This is what disappointed me. I was sure there was something else she could do. The experience was so odd and consuming, that once nothing else happened it was unsatisfying.


Quietly, we got up and we left with a small hand-made boat in our hand.


I’m still not sure of the point, or if there was supposed to be one. But I do know I would like to see more of this kind of theatre around Brisbane. It is odd and intriguing and bizarre. But ultimately, it is wonderful and shows amazing potential.


Go to Metro Arts to find more peculiar journeys to satisfy your curiosity.






CROSS-STITCH: Thunderbox

Metro Arts

6 December – 7 December 2013


Attended by Meredith Walker


“Somebody suggested this might be a fun thing to come along to,” someone ahead shared as we followed the blue stairs to level four of Metro Arts (who knew there was a level four?), unsure of what awaited. Turns out that ‘a fun thing to come along to’ is a most apt description for the CROSS-STITCH: Thunderbox art party.




CROSS-STITCH: Thunderbox, the two night event at Metro Arts led by Artistic Director Britt Guy, is a diverse collection of performance and installations works, the experience of which is like traversing through a scrapbook of ideas. And what an assortment of experiences it is, from playing Robert Millett’s short text computer adventure game, to contributing to Lenine Bourke’s Something Said collection of amusing and evocative lines from life that have made you feel something.


M’ck Mckeague’s Hiding Place is a definite highlight, as it allows audience members to crawl inside a custom built cubby house, one at a time; the experience booked out quickly on both nights. Another standout is Nathan Stoneham and Park Younghee’s I will sing to you, during which you share an elevator with two others, who soon begin lamenting love in words and melody, crescendoing in a rich rendition of song (thanks to amazing elevator acoustics) chosen for you and sung to you (not just for you).




Like any cultural celebration, this event is not only about the individual shows; it’s also about the experience of seeing them and sharing that experience. And in a well-worn tiki-lounge-esque chill out room, featuring tranquil projections of beach scenes, sunsets and flowers, conversations about art flow naturally as patrons share experiences, compare favourite Something Said lines and share the nooks and crannies discoveries of Edwina Lunn’s Mouse Art.


CROSS-STITCH: Thunderbox is a Metro Arts initiative aimed at providing opportunity for emerging Artistic Directors to develop their craft, however, it is also allows audiences to experience art in its many forms as they self-curate a journey through the predominantly interactive works. Indeed, the most remarkable thing about the event, apart from how unconventional it is – is that it showcases such an impressive collection of contemporary Australian artists, featuring names such as theatre-maker Thomas Quirk and choreographer/dancer Matthew Day.


Thomas Quirk asks people to walk with me from A to B, as you follow vision of his footsteps to anecdote narration of past personal experiences, on an IPOD.  Melbourne based Matthew Day is amenable and charming in his experiment Open Relationships, in which he explores unchoreographed encounters with single participants. And this was my definite highlight – being quietly followed and mirrored in movement, dueted in dance and twirled by Matthew Day above the sounds of a city in festive season celebration.


Stay tuned for what Metro Arts has in store; their 2014 program will be launched early in the new year.

If, when you envisage theatre, you imagine a stage, a seated audience, a couple of hours of your time and maybe an usher closing the doors as he house lights dim, then perhaps you should give Metro Arts and events such as this one a look, as a means of invigorating your usual theatregoing experience.

Not only is CROSS-STITCH: Thunderbox a free event, but it is a surprisingly fun thing to head along to!




CROSS-STITCH and the end of an era at Metro Arts


Metro Arts presents CROSS-STITCH:

Thunderbox Led by Artistic Director, Britt Guy

Friday December 6 and Saturday December 7 2013 from 6pm at Metro Arts


Closing the year at Metro Arts is CROSS-STITCH: Thunderbox, Brisbane’s unrivalled immersive two-night art party curated by Britt Guy. Site-specific, interactive and live, Britt has curated a collection of contemporary Australian artists sharing their latest partners in crime – communities and you the audience.


Artists include Zane Trow, Robert Millett, Lenine Bourke, Mck Mckeague, Matthew Day, Andrew Tuttle, Edwina Lunn, Gerwyn Davies, Nathan Stoneham and Thomas Quirk. Each work is a conversation between an experimental artist, an Australian community and Brisbane audiences. Expect to witness work fleetingly, engage in conversations, and contemplate your connection with place, community and art making as you traverse through these interstitial performance and installation works.


Starting at the bar, audiences pick from the program of works, self-curating a journey through the online gaming world, intimate duets, hidden spaces, mouse size galleries, the sounds of nameless towns, suburbs and cities while traversed across the country through an ode to landscape and corrugated iron.


“I believe that contemporary artists are seeking a stronger connection and engagement with audience and the place where they are creating and presenting their work. Simultaneously, I believe audiences today are just as hungry for a richer understanding of contemporary art making,” explains Britt.


“With CROSS-STITCH: Thunderbox, I hope to encourage discussion around the relationship between art, engagement and audience interactive practices.”


An independent producer, curator and community arts and youth worker with extensive experience across festivals such as Brisbane Festival’s Under the Radar and This Is Not Art’s Critical Animals, as well as sitting on various selection committees in organisations in Darwin, Queensland and Melbourne, Britt has in depth knowledge and is engaged with emerging artist development, experimental art practice, site specific and pop up work, youth run events, community cultural development, events planning, strategy writing and research.


Leveraging on Metro Arts’ traditional and non-traditional spaces, and resources to realise the event, CROSS- STITCH is a platform for an emerging artistic director to test and strengthen curatorial skills.


eve_metroarts kiss_motherland prehistoric_band

The End of an Era of Independents at Metro Arts





See Marcel Dorney’s vital play before December 7


Award-winning playwright and director Marcel Dorney and his fellow co-founders of Melbourne theatre company Elbow Room conclude Metro Arts’ 2013 Season of the Independents with Prehistoric.


It is fitting that Marcel Dorney, with three works under his belt in The Independents, should also be the final work to be co-presented under this banner. The Independents has been an important platform for presenting Brisbane’s independent performance makers for 12 years, in that time presenting more than 50 works, commencing with Three Points of Contact by Shaun Charles.


Prehistoric was generated entirely within the walls of Metro Arts,” says Dorney, “first through a commission from the recently defunded Backbone Youth Arts, and then as part of the Season of Independents. I got my start as a director through Metro Arts at 19; I’m immensely proud to have come back here to work every five years or so, and watched the organisation change. To be part of the ‘last’ of the Independents is also – I hope – to help push open a new door.”


In 2014 Metro Arts will continue to co-present the performance work of practitioners making and presenting performance works under their own creative control. We will respond to what is needed at this time – a flexible platform appropriate for a new context and new challenges.


The Independents started as a vehicle for playwrights to test their writing in production and enable them to continue to develop their craft. The list of writers it has supported reads as a who’s who of Queensland playwrights including Linda Hassall, Maxine Mellor, Sven Swenson, Robert Kronk, Simon Brook, Daynan Brazil, Daniel Evans, Elaine Acworth, Sasha Janowicz, Margi Brown Ash and Katherine Lyall Watson.


Sue Benner who founded The Independents says, “I was surrounded by a sea of potential theatre talent and a staff and Board that were ferocious in their commitment to the place and willing to taking the risk necessary to support these artists’ careers. And so The Season of Independents was born with borrowed and invented stuff, seats held together with gaffer tape, minimal lighting (to be polite), front-of-house non-existent but for a bevy of volunteers, and Workplace Health and Safety? I won’t even go there… Three Points of Contact had exactly the fresh, controversial, edginess that the year 2002 needed, and exactly the mad energy required to launch a season of new independent work.”


Over its 12 years The Independents has continuously evolved and expanded in response to performance makers’ needs. The platform has morphed to service and showcase directors and actors; developing the skills of designers, stage managers and producers. It’s changed in response to theatre form, embracing contemporary performance, music, dance and all the combinations and spaces between. It has broken out of the Sue Benner Theatre at the call of artists making more experimental work, wanting to challenge spatial and audience relationships. Who can forget the transformation of the Basement by Motherboard Productions in 2011 for 지하Underground, a work that continues to develop and will return for its third Brisbane season in 2014.

Exposing artists and work to a national audience and enabling work to transition to other stages has been a focus in later years.

In 2010 The Kursk travelled from the Sue Benner Theatre to 37 venues around Australia and we are now in preparation to showcase the escapists’ work Boy Girl Wall in the US – a little work made for the Sue Benner Theatre with not much more than a piece of chalk an overhead projector.


Liz Burcham, CEO of Metro Arts says, “We stand at a point where we don’t need a label or a sign post that says this is independent. Metro Arts stands by daring and exciting theatre and performance, in all its many forms and in 2014 will present under its own name, Metro Arts, a program of work in collaboration with artists that breaks form and style, blends performance and installation, engages cross culturally and in some cases are co-presented with our peers nationally.”