Tag: Bryony Jackson

Asia TOPA Presents TIME’S JOURNEY THROUGH A ROOM

Gliding through time and tragedy

By Myron My

The inaugural Melbourne festival Asia TOPA is the opportunity for Australia to celebrate the contemporary arts with its neighbouring Asian countries. Time’s Journey Through a Room comes to Melbourne from Japanese theatre company chelfitsch, and is a meditative and meaningful exploration of life, death, the in-between and the hereafter. Written and directed by Toshiki Okada, the performance is set a few days after the 2011 earthquake and Fukushima nuclear accident, but if you think the performance is actually going to be about those events, think again. Okada instead focuses on the relationships a young man has with his deceased wife and his new girlfriend.

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The cast of three – Izumi Aoyagi, Mari Ando and Yo Yoshida – deliver deeply nuanced performances in roles that on the surface do not seem to demand much, but the subtleties of their characters and the delicate spoken nuances are where the complexities of hope and hopelessness are explored. There is an significant emotional detachment present by the performers throughout the show that is well-balanced and effectively manifested.

Okada’s direction is detailed and specific to the most minute of detail, including how Arisa holds onto a pleat in her skirt or the way Hanako’s feet stretch out when she is resting against the dining table. The contrast of Arisa’s unnatural movement and constricting sweater and skirt to Hanako’s ethereal-like movements and light, loose-fitting clothing further emphasises the idea of transformation and re-births in the face of tragedy in order to live a fulfilled life.

Tsuyoshi Hisakado‘s set design is simply ingenious, with the three actors spending virtually the entirety of the show on the far left hand side of the stage with a table and a few chairs as props. The rest of the space is adorned with fans, various lighting structures and other miscellany that build on the idea of timelessness, and along with Norimasa Ushikawa‘s sound direction and Tomomi Ohira‘s lighting design, create an environment of reflection and introspection while allowing us to follow the narrative on stage.

Time’s Journey Through a Room is an entrancing performance where you will both find yourself slipping into the moments that are being so vividly described on stage or allowing them to trigger memories of your own. Its exploration of hope is beautifully captured and gently insists we consider a different perspective when tragedy occurs.

Venue: Arts House, 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne
Season: 
Until 12 February | Sat 7:30pm, Sun 5pm
Tickets: 
$45 Full | $35 Conc | $30 Student
Bookings: Arts House

Image by Bryony Jackson

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Arts House Presents ANICCA

Elusive, engrossing and enlightening performance art

By Myron My

In Buddhism, anicca (impermanence) is seen as the first of three marks of existence, and evokes the idea that existence is, by nature, evanescent and inconstant. With his new show, Anicca, composer and performer Matthias Schack-Arnott manages to bring these beliefs into the thoughts of his audience as we reflect and ponder on the transient nature not only of moments in our lives, but of life itself.

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While his previous show Fluvial had its own impressive concept and visual design, Schack-Arnott has truly outdone himself with the design of the instrument for this performance. An array of bamboo sticks, pebbles, shells, felt and other tactile items are glued on to a flat round surface and with the use of a motor from an electric pottery wheel, Schack-Arnott gets the instrument spinning, where it begins to resemble a large roulette wheel. This variable-speed rotating instrument created with engineer Richard Allen has no name, and this adds to the mystery and wonder of the show.

Schack-Arnott teams up with Eugene Ughetti for this performance to use cymbals and bamboo sticks to scrape, strike and interact with the objects on the spinning wheel. Even though they are on stage together and using the same instrument, Anicca could almost be described as a solo performance with two performers. They may be occupying the same space yet there is little acknowledgement of each other, reminding you of the singular journey we ourselves are on.

Through their precision timing and expert speed, Schack-Arnott and Ughetti create music that quickly fades in and out, disappears or suddenly changes into something completely different. The exceptional lighting work by Richard Dinnen similarly creates an ever-changing environment where nothing is constant, and at times, where the performers are shrouded in darkness and mystery.

Schack-Arnott continues to build on his reputation as a musician and composer who is not afraid to experiment with what music can be, as well as what it can make people feel. Anicca is an incredibly thoughtful and inspiring piece of music that creates an opportunity for audiences to open themselves up, be vulnerable, and to consider and embrace the fleetingness that is life.

Venue: Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

Season: Until 6 November | Thur-Sat 7:30pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 5pm

Tickets: $35 Full | $30 Conc | $25 Student

Bookings: Arts House

Image by Bryony Jackson

Arts House Presents TRILOGY

An incredible exploration of modern feminisms

By Myron My

Before Trilogy begins, Nic Green appears on stage to inform us that due to unforeseen circumstances, her co-performer Laura Bradshaw would not be participating this evening. Rather than cancel it, Green has fortunately decided to make some changes to allow the show to work. I say fortunately because Trilogy ends up being a brilliant feminist performance art piece on women reclaiming their bodies and their rights, and it would have been an absolutely shame to miss out on this experience.

Trilogy

The first part of Trilogy examines how women’s bodies are presented in the public eye and how women view their own bodies. Green begins with a humorous cheer-leading routine that eventually turns into a group of about thirty Melbourne women performing a dance with a freer choreography. However, these volunteers are naked and cover all shapes, sizes, ages and race. They dance joyfully and connect with each other, allowing all their body parts to move along to the music uninhibited. These women are proud and will not conform to the expectations that they must be quiet and passive. It is a physical celebration of women and their bodies, of being a woman and of what it means to be a woman.

Part two focuses on the historical context of feminism with use of the documentary Town Bloody Hall, a debate on women’s liberation that took place in 1971 and was moderated by Neil Mailer. The panel of feminists included Germaine Greer and Jill Johnston and excerpts of their speeches are projected onto the screen. Joining Green on stage are Murray Wason, Bron Batten and Candy Bowers, and together they share their own experiences of gender roles and expectations and how these moments shape how society forms. What is revealed is the stark realisation of how much further we’ve got to go for equality and representation, despite how far we have seemingly come.

The third section, which appears to be most affected by Bradshaw’s absence, has Green giving a lecture on women creating their own “herstory”. Using the English hymn Jerusalem by William Blake, which was the official song of the suffragette movement, Green encourages women to reconnect, reclaim and re-frame their gender, which culminates in an empowering and liberating moment.

It is virtually impossible to walk out of Trilogy and not be determined to want to create change in society, regardless of what your sex or gender may be. But Green is specifically encouraging women to unite and explore their feminism, to make a stand, to fight for what they want, what they deserve, and as she declares at one point, “to start your own fucking movement”. Perhaps this is when the next revolution finally begins. 

Venue: Arts House, 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne, 3051

Season: Until 26 June | Thurs – Sat 8.30pm, Sun 2pm 

Tickets: $45 Full | $35 Conc | $30 Student

Bookings: Arts House

Image by Bryony Jackson