Posts Tagged ‘out of the box

28
Jun
18

Guru Dudu’s Silent Disco Walking Tour

 

Guru Dudu’s Silent Disco Walking Tour

Out of the Box

QPAC Cascade Court

June 26 – July 4 2018

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

The Brisbane Guru Dudu team boasts four energetic and very brightly clad tour guides – Maja Hanna Liwszyc, Stefan Cooper-Fox, Daniel Cabrera and the original Guru Dudu, David Naylor – who take turns to take super fun silent disco walking tours.

 

The concept is not only an Out of the Box smash hit but also, a private-party-in-public-spaces phenomenon sweeping Australian and UK cities.

 

I think we all wish we’d thought of it.

 

We arrive on QPAC’s front steps to be greeted by staff in their black and red, and to greet festival volunteers in their orange. That distinction is deliberate, many of them being a bit shy, or else, not yet in character as Effervescent Festival Vollies. We are issued with a set of headphones each, and instructions to meet Guru Dudu and the green group at the top. Fortunately for punters on the first day, most of QPAC’s staff, being not quite as shy, and a number of them having survived several Out of the Box festivals since 1992, knew a good deal more about where things were and indeed, what things were, than many of the vollies. We’ll put misdirection and reticence down to opening day/night jitters. 

 

We could see our Guru Dudu (Stefan Cooper-Fox) and as soon as we had our earphones in place we could hear him, and that the party had already started! We joined the group and I made a strong offer of a classic disco move. Not being known for my enthusiasm when it comes to audience participation, I’m not sure if it was me or Poppy who was more surprised by this unusual willingness to be involved. Panic at the disco? Having to talk the talk in recent devising sessions? Actually, it’s harder not to join in; the music makes us want to move. This silent dancing/walking caper is hard to resist! It’s actual real-life living-in-the-moment stuff without the memes, instant heightened awareness, just-add-earphones increased confidence, without inhibiting levels of self-consciousness. It’s liberating and laughter inducing.

 

Of course, we’re not really aware of anything happening outside of the world created by Guru Dudu. We realise on some level that without earphones, onlookers don’t know what’s happening; all they know is what they see, which is a group of super confident disco dancers of all ages and abilities having super amounts of uninhibited, silent, silly fun. Going by the raised brows and wide smiles, it must be hilarious to witness. A mum shares her headset with a random woman, her bewildered expression transforming into one of recognition. She knows the song and she suddenly understands the set up. She offers a big smile and double thumbs up, passes back the headset and continues on her way with a new bounce in her step.

 

The song choices are good, with a few of them kitsch enough to be cool – it’s a kids’ festival after all, but the grown ups have to make it through the day with some humour too. The Mission Impossible theme is the first challenge, as we move like Super Spies across the walkway, heading towards the museum and art galleries. Bjork’s Quiet is performed conspiratorially, now that we’ve all bonded during our impossible mission, just as we might expect to see it at an early Wakakirri rehearsal (or an early evening karaoke effort), with parents getting down low to join Guru Dudu and kids, gesturing “SHHH” and singing along, although whether or not any of them are singing the same notes as Bjork is anyone’s guess.

 

Not as popular with the adults as with their children are the more literal song and dance tasks, including being dinosaurs to Katy Perry’s Roar, and dancing like monkeys to a track that was previously unknown to me: Disney Junior’s Big Block SingSong Two Banana Kind of Day. I don’t recommend it.

 

Everyone happily joins a conga line, and takes their turn At the Carwash, although Poppy thinks this one is odd and I remind her that everyone – even the kids of Rydell High – have their variation on a tribal initiation or celebration circle. We wind down with some actual circle dancing, as any sub-culture would, with parents pushing their offspring into the centre, confident that with so much live on-camera experience after this, their children are well and truly ready to be reality television stars. Walk Like An Egyptian garners massive support from tour participants and randoms, and we finish up with a fun free dance and enthusiastic high fives for Guru Dudu.

 

Despite the exquisite pressure of a tight turnaround before the next tour and a couple of unintentionally quiet moments that occur at the push of a wrong button (these are met with merry laughter), Guru Dudu has been relaxed and fun, keeping things moving at a safe, steady, contemporary, public-space-disco pace. It’s been real.

 

There is obviously safety in numbers and everyone feels comfortable to do their very best silly dance moves in a big group. Guru Dudu’s Silent Disco Walking Tour is so much fun. There’s no right or wrong; we’re free to be ourselves and have some uninhibited fun.

 

Guru Dudu is one of the most exciting inclusions in this year’s program, with a terrific payoff for participants and an awesome ongoing opportunity for artists. And the festival is always amazing – you can see its success in the smiles on small faces and the stats in the press – but I miss the amazing festival feeling of previous years, when school groups and families all settled in the sunshine, on the grass by the river, sharing the open outdoor space, a village, a common ground. Without that now, and everything happening instead within the QPAC building and cafe areas, it all feels very safe and neat and contained, a little like the development and support of the arts in this country generally. I mean, it’s hard to believe that there’s a festival on at all. I guess in good weather over the weekend, the Cultural Forecourt will come to life again. 

 

Perhaps Guru Dudu’s tour group will be allowed to venture out into the open then, since this immersive event goes some way to filling the community festival feeling void (The other great crowd event is Dance…Like No One is Watching, don’t miss it!). We’d noticed the first tour group of the day moving through that riverside space, and I can only imagine the reasons to move to a more contained concrete area upstairs (weather and workplace health and safety considerations/risk assessment factors, and comments from carers who would rather not admit that in fact, they’ve always felt a bit insecure in their attempts to wrangle small persons in open spaces). It probably looks easier on paper to take it all inside. But easier is not often better or…funner.

 

 

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said Out of the Box was a great opportunity for Queensland children to engage with amazing arts experiences, to sing, dance, move, play, paint, create and imagine. “With ongoing support from the Queensland Government for more than 25 years, Out of the Box has presented quality performance and cultural activity that celebrates and supports learning, play, and discovery for children,” Minister Enoch said.

“Since the first Out of the Box in 1992, the biennial event has engaged more than one million participants and 3721 artists. It has presented 1534 performances, 2335 workshops and 9461 activities.

“Out of the Box has presented 103 brand new works, some of which have gone on to tour nationally and internationally and creating work for Queensland artists,” Ms Enoch said.

QPAC Chief Executive John Kotzas said the delivery of the biennial Festival and associated community engagement activities connects children with a variety of arts experiences and is a great example of how QPAC inspires our community to talk about broader issues in the world today.

 

 

 

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27
Jun
18

The Arrival

The Arrival

QPAC’s Out of the Box & Red Leap Theatre

QPAC Playhouse

June 26 – July 1 2018

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

A man flees his homeland and journeys across vast seas to arrive in a strange, wondrous

new world where giant ships fly through the air and curious creatures abound. There he

negotiates dazzling architecture, bizarre foods and foreign tongues to build a new life. On his

travels the man meets fellow migrants, each with their own tale to tell.

 

 

There are no notes for a relaxed performance, though that’s what it is, with hundreds of kids spilling into the seats in the Playhouse on the first day of QPAC’s Out of the Box children’s festival, asking questions already, and right through the show. And this is the way theatre used to work, and needs to continue to work, allowing us to be involved and completely immersed and alive, feeling every moment. For a kid, more often than not, this means feeling out loud, speaking their mind in the moment, and not accepting being told, “Shhh…we’ll talk about it later”, although if you’ve been following for a few years you’ll know that that is precisely what I’ve told Poppy, now twelve, for years of attending theatre with adult audiences. (I care less now about the glares). I love the children’s chatter during the shows that are especially created for them. I also love when they are captivated and silent, and in this show there are those magical moments too, when a hush descends over the entire audience of under-eights. But not for long! It’s too interesting and exciting!

 

What’s happening? What is that? Where is he going? Why can’t they be with him? Is the tiny ship the ship he’s on? Why can’t they go on the ship too? Is this a true story? Not all of it is understood, but there is a basic family unit separated and eventually reunited, and in between there is survival, friendship, war, horror and a new home.

 

More questions. This time from Poppy, afterwards. Why can’t we see Air Play? Why can’t we see everything? Why did he have to leave his home? Why couldn’t his family go together, stay together? Did the beautiful origami bird letter reach them? Was it even a letter? Money? Was it his love being sent symbolically across the ocean? This last, not as clear as it might have been, unless of course you’ve recently read the book, which Poppy had not. If you’ve not looked at the book recently either, or never looked at it, watch this brilliant animation. I had shared it with ten-year-olds at one school before we wrote about our favourite images, and created leaving and arriving freeze frames. At another school I was asked not to use the book again, it was too much to discuss. “We don’t have time to talk about that.” 

 

Adapted by Kate Parker and Julie Nolan, and directed by Nolan, this outstanding production, like Shaun Tan’s award winning graphic novel, comprises a series of incredible images, created by bodies, and the muted colours and textures they wear and through which they weave. Set pieces slide, and fold in and out and onto themselves, offering a semblance of a pop-up storybook on stage, perfectly lit. Scenes and moods and emotions shift seamlessly in curious exploration of a whole new life and the wonderment of living it, and the challenge and contentment that comes with communicating and connecting with other living beings. 

 

 

To have The Arrival of the title, we must first have a departure. This is a poignant goodbye, preceded by the opening image of the three as one – a perfectly balanced family trinity, clutching each other in a lifted embrace before they separate, to be seen as three individuals, each with their own feelings and ways of working out the world. There is a long journey and a ship sails by, beyond the action, just as a suitcase ship is constructed downstage, in front, in the real-life world of the play. The kids get it. Perspective 101. Performers become migrants, and make a porthole of their arms, and we fully accept the style of the show now – I remind Poppy that she saw something like it for the first time in Wolfe Bowart’s beautiful works, including Letter’s End and La La Luna; his is some of my favourite visual/children’s theatre ever – combining live performance and physical theatre, puppetry, projections, silhouettes and shadows, an evocative soundscape and original music. Adults and kids alike marvel at various inspired aspects of Red Leap’s storytelling, even something as simple as swaying together to create the shared trepidation of the travellers and the movement of the ship. With only the faint hope of finding more than a day’s work, it’s the opening of Les MiserablesAt the End of the Day, played out in silent slow motion on a boat. Birds fly overhead, heralding a strange new land, and crying freedom and joy and flight and hunger and fear. Of course, that depends on who you’re asking.

 

 

The walking fingers of performers, representing the newcomers’ insignificance as much as the figures themselves, hurry along a gangplank, which rests between the suitcase ship and an official looking person, standing formidably and stamping passports, allowing them passage across the bridge to a new world. A projected image seems to be the shape from the book, which is a beautiful, spot-the-difference moment with children if you have a copy at home or at school; it’s the towering, hand-shaking figures in their boats, but it’s not as clear as the Statue of Liberty would be (and how clear is her message at the moment, anyway?), and perhaps it’s a missed opportunity to incorporate another amazing design feature, as The Rabbits had its central tower of earth. Perhaps not.

 

 

A hot air balloon is revealed before it’s miniaturised, and our man continues his journey, looking over a vast new city. This means of transportation is gentle and other-worldly, like Dorothy’s intended way home, or Charlie’s Great Glass Elevator once it’s crashed through the factory ceiling. There are oohs and ahhs all around us. We see seasons pass, and the man is rained on, snowed on, each element initially indicated by the actions of the ensemble, clustered around him, reaching and clicking fingers in the air, and more reaching, fingers pinching snowflakes, unintentionally making the “okay” sign because (the boy behind me), “Look! Everything will be okay, don’t worry, Mum”, and (Poppy beside me), “Surely someone will be kind enough to give him a home.” And someone is. The new home is tiny and strange, with strange things in it! The ensemble members become a hat stand, a shower, and the puppeteer of a stray creature, a new best friend. A wonderful moment sees the actors react to a spray of water from the shower, and kids all around us shriek and laugh! In the pages of the book we see that there are many like the man, however; this story is mostly his story, and it has not been made too overwhelming by frequently and needlessly reminding us that there are countless others in his plight, focusing instead on just a few migrant stories to represent millions. The most engaging of these, a great and terrible battle in which many lives are lost during a series of lifts and spins and balances, and a near tragedy, depicted by a woman moving over and under a continuously moving ladder to retrieve a precious book, perhaps her only possession. These are highly physical sequences, the company of actors having settled with each other and with the demands of the show over a very short rehearsal time, however; during the extended season, once they’ve really settled, you’ll see an even tighter, more precise and even more closely connected ensemble, comprising Giema Contini, Nerida Matthaei, Leah Shelton, Michael Tuahine, Charles Ball, Danielle Jackson, Kristian Santic, Caroline Dunphy, and Tama Jarman & Shadon Meredith from Red Leap Theatre.

 

 

We appreciate more and more the work of these performers, largely disguised during the journey in their on-stage-stagehand roles, manipulating the invading dragon tail dementors in the sky, and moving city walls, and later, pulling up cloth from below the apron of the stage to create a field of flowers, the perfect realisation of Tan’s original illustration. A devised imagined language also makes perfect sense, supported by comedic gestures and facial expressions, often bringing light to this dark story. There’s a very funny snozzcumber moment, when a refreshing, revolting tasting fluid is sourced from some weird vegetable at the market. A more frightening BFG/Holocaust/The Mission moment comes with the sudden, violent extraction of tiny people by enormous shadowy figures looking suspiciously like Ghostbusters (the original Ghostbusters, kids, the best).

 

It’s gorgeous to see and hear this society brought to life by accomplished performers, making this production a theatre makers’ masterclass: for physical theatre / devising / directing addicts/aficionados we see in The Arrival a stunning example of contemporary theatre, and specifically, Visual Theatre and Physical Theatre using the essential elements/ingredients of composition, including all of The Viewpoints. For example, and this is especially for my year 9 & 10 drama kids, who are used to me telling them to go see whatever it is I’ve just seen, a beautifully constructed sequence of everyday activities exploring gesture, tempo, repetition and duration, as well as a choreographed dream-turned-nightmare, and a unique game in which lawn bowls meets bottle-flipping, to the great delight of everyone-who-is-not-a-teacher-with-playground-duty-experience.

 

 

With the arrival of another Spring, comes the arrival of the man’s family, and again this moment is miniaturised, the fingers doing the initial walking, building our anticipation before, finally, a running, leaping, embracing reunion, made even more moving this way, setting up the final lasting image of the family standing together again. 

 

The Arrival comes to us with its universal story, its beautiful, powerful, theatrically conceptualised and constructed images, and Red Leap’s signature aesthetic. It’s unparalleled at this year’s Out of the Box Festival, superbly realised, designed and directed, imbued with so much meaning and emotion, and waiting for your take on it. This is the intelligent, aesthetically and emotionally inspiring theatre that kids (and adults) never forget. Take the whole family and talk about it, and about what it means to each of you, and what – if anything – you might do about the feelings that come up for you. It’s not a call to action exactly, but a gentle nudge, a reminder to love and be loved, and to be kind to those near you – family, friends, strangers – because at the core of The Arrival is the struggle to survive and stay connected, and that’s everyone’s story.

 

Red Leap Theatre – The Arrival TRAILER from Red Leap Theatre on Vimeo.

13
Jun
12

Invisible Me

Invisible Me

QPAC & Southern Cross Soloists

12th June – 17th June 2012

Reviewed by Michelle Bull

As a singing teacher, I have often found it amazing the way kids seem to be intrinsically drawn to music from an early age. It appears that until the time comes where Triple j or Video Hits determine what’s cool and what’s not, music in any style, even chamber music, can bring just as much excitement as a One Direction concert or the promise of a never-ending bowl of ice cream. It was with this in mind that I found my place on a cushion in QPAC’s concert hall foyer amidst a sea of giggles, knobbley knees and excited chatter for a playful start to my Tuesday morning.

Invisible Me, directed by Brendon Ross and composed by Joseph Twist, features acclaimed chamber music ensemble, the Southern Cross Soloists and is presented as part of the Out of the Box Festival 2012. A musical realisation of the award-winning story by author, Wendy Binks, the giggles of delight and wide-eyed wonder on the little faces around me proved this adaptation to no doubt be an exciting realisation of this heartwarming story.

The show, like the story, follows the escapades of Stripey, a baby Emu as she searches for a place to be invisible, and along the way meets an array of colourful characters.

The part of Stripey is played to perfection by actor/dancer Stacey McCallum, who has the young audience (and us oldies!) captivated by her wonderful physicality and engaging characterisation of the adventurous baby emu. Using QPAC’s concert hall foyer as an interactive performance space, the simple paneled set provides a sense of place while McCallum leaps and bounds though the space to a chorus of shouts and giggles and the odd detailed instruction from a chatty 3-year old audience member!

Providing a playful soundtrack, rich with narrative and characterisation, the Southern Cross Soloists are exquisite, as they act both as a musical storyboard and as the colourful characters Stripey encounters on her journey. Weaving physical comedy with flawless musicality, the players each embody the roles of Stripey’s father, an echidna, a goanna, birds and Toot the parrot to perfection, combining descriptive musical lines and harmony with effective and engaging characterisation.

Musically, composer Joseph Twist, has created a tapestry of sounds that tie in to the heartwarming nature of this story impeccably. From the slow, bending lines of the goanna, to the short staccato trills of Toot the parrot, each harmony and musical line echoes descriptively, the movement, disposition and relationship of each of these animals to Stripey.

Aside from common themes of belonging and identity embedded in the storyline, the show also manages to weave some educational elements into it’s narrative as a soundscape to Stripey’s adventure into the big city, as the soloists lead the audience through counter-rhythm clapping games. I would have loved to see more of this element incorporated into the show, as it seemed to come and go in a manner of seconds and the young audience were clearly soaking up the opportunity to be actively involved. The emotive quality of the music also does not go unnoticed by the young audience as they follow the atmosphere and mood created by the ensemble and are engaged with the characters for the show’s entirety.

Invisible Me is a wonderful way to introduce little people to the magic and emotion that can be created through classical music. Through engaging and interactive storytelling, the Southern Cross Soloists demonstrate not only wonderful technical skill and musicality but also a willingness and ability to transcend the role of ‘musician’ to ‘character’ in the telling of this heartwarming tale. Along with Actor/Dancer, Stacey McCallum, and a wonderful creative team, Invisible Me creates a wonderful opportunity for little people and ‘oldies’ alike to inject a little excitement and playfulness into a chilly winter morning!

This landmark cultural event has been presented every two years since the inaugural Festival in 1992 and continues to be at the leading edge of early childhood arts and learning. This year Out of the Box celebrates 20 years of nurturing children’s creativity and imagination.

2012 is the National Year of Reading and as an official partner of this initiative, QPAC has developed the entire Festival program around the arts and cultural literacy. This year’s festival will bring four children’s books to life as part of the performance program.

The centrepiece of Out of the Box is a new work based on The Flying Orchestra, a children’s book written and illustrated by Queensland author Clare McFadden, which will be presented as a world premiere at this year’s Festival.

Another program highlight is Me and My Shadow, 2011 Helpmann award winner for Best Presentation for Children. In the form of a visual poem, this spellbinding work from Patch Theatre is about a young girl who discovers a way to befriend her shadow.

The Out of the Box workshop program incorporates drama, dance, digital storytelling, circus and media. Children will have a chance to weave dreams, create virtual stories, design new 3D worlds, cook up a storm and build monsters.

The Festival also includes outside activities and welcomes Earth Visual and Physical Inc’s Dinosaur Petting Zoo and Polyglot Theatre’s We Built This City – a public construction site that calls upon energy and ingenuity to transform thousands of cardboard boxes into a new world.

“Every child is an artist; the challenge is to keep them so.”

Pablo Picasso

26
Mar
12

out of the box: tickets on sale today

GET YOUR TICKETS NOW FOR

OUT OF THE BOX FESTIVAL FOR CHILDREN 

Teachers, Parents, Grandparents, and carers take note! Tickets for the not-to-be-missed arts event of the year for children, the 2012 Out of the Box Festival for Children have gone on sale today Monday 26 March.

This year’s Festival will run from 12-17 June and offers an especially curated program for children eight years and under.

Out of the Box 2012 features an exciting program of free and ticketed events, including theatre performances, an interactive workshop program, outdoor events for families, and a symposium fostering conversations enquiring into early childhood learning. This year for the first time, the festival will also offer two dedicated venues with performances and activities especially for parents with very young children.

The Festival will take place in and across the Cultural Centre at South Bank, Brisbane, from its hub at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) to the State Library of Queensland, Queensland Museum and the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art. More than 50 000 children, parents and carers are expected to participate in the six days of Out of the Box 2012.

This landmark cultural event has been presented every two years since the inaugural Festival in 1992 and continues to be at the leading edge of early childhood arts and learning. This year Out of the Box celebrates 20 years of nurturing children’s creativity and imagination.

2012 is the National Year of Reading and as an official partner of this initiative, QPAC has developed the entire Festival program around the arts and cultural literacy. This year’s festival will bring four children’s books to life as part of the performance program.

The centrepiece of Out of the Box is a new work based on The Flying Orchestra, a children’s book written and illustrated by Queensland author Clare McFadden, which will be presented as a world premiere at this year’s Festival.

Another program highlight is Me and My Shadow, 2011 Helpmann award winner for Best Presentation for Children. In the form of a visual poem, this spellbinding work from Patch Theatre is about a young girl who discovers a way to befriend her shadow.

The Out of the Box workshop program incorporates drama, dance, digital storytelling, circus and media. Children will have a chance to weave dreams, create virtual stories, design new 3D worlds, cook up a storm and build monsters.

The Festival also includes outside activities and welcomes Erth Visual and Physical Inc’s Dinosaur Petting Zoo and Polyglot Theatre’s We Built This City – a public construction site that calls upon energy and ingenuity to transform thousands of cardboard boxes into a new world.

Tickets for Out of the Box are now on sale. For full program details and bookings visit www.outoftheboxfestival.com.au

 

QPAC’S OUT OF THE BOX FESTIVAL FOR CHILDREN

  Tuesday 12 – Sunday 17 June 2012

    QPAC and Cultural Centre, South Bank

     Performances: adults $25, children $20

            Workshops: children $15

 

 




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