Tag: North Melbourne Town Hall

Dance Massive Presents DIVERCITY

An experience of joy

By Joana Simmons


When you live away from home and reside in the city, on someone else’s land, does it change your relationship to country?”

In Divercity, Bundjalung/Yaegl choreographer Mariaa Randall guides us with dance, colour and conversation to explore this idea. Presented by Arts House and performed Henrietta Baird and Waiata Telfer (who also choreographed) this was one show to catch this season. Set in front of a projection; the movement, dialogue and structure are all impeccably defined. This work is a look at indigenous cultural celebration delivered in a beautifully artistic way.

Individuals self-identifying as women of the audience are invited in first to learn some simple movement and words for ‘woman’ ‘girl’ and ‘feminine’ in the language of their country. It is lighthearted and Randall eases the tension. There was a sense of hesitation initially, but it felt special to be part of the performance, and fostered a sense of community among us. lluminated by an evocative filmic backdrop by video artist Keith Deverell, Baird and Telfer performed traditional and contemporary dance whilst speaking native tongues and English. The choreography is dynamic and looked fantastic with the projection. The use of coloured chalk on their clothes that they swept up and banged in the floor work was stunning. The extension, energy and execution of the movement was breathtaking, and this wonderful intensity was sustained for so long.

The conversational nature of the dialogue draws us in and is at points authentically funny, making the performance enjoyable on so many levels. I was impressed by the stamina of the performers; twisting and rolling into and out of the floor, covered in vibrant colourful chalk, connecting with each other and the audience the whole way through. Randall is a genuine creative star and should be highly commended for bringing this work together. Deverell’s sound design fits well with the projection and movement and allows the spoken word to be heard and the movement to pick up and become complex and thrilling. The space was used well and performers captured from the light from the four follow spots on the corners. The stage is left covered in vibrant colour from the chalk on the performers’ bodies, with the shapes from the tape they pulled up stencilled in the tarquet, and we the audience sit in silence as we soak up and share the clever cultural creation we just experienced.

This show, structured around Aboriginal spiritual and traditional cultures of Women’s Business created and performed by indigenous women, is one that gives us so much inspiration and excitement. Divercity shows us, no matter where we are from, where we are now, what gender we identify with or what our heritage and language is, we all have bodies which can be beautiful vessels for communication and expression.  I loved every part of it- the celebration of community and how movement brings people together: the playful nature and the synchronisity of the projection and language and being made part of the performance. If you got a ticket before it sold out, you too enjoyed a real treat.

Divercity played in March 2017 as part of Dance Massive at North Melbourne Town Hall.

Image by Keith Deverell

Melbourne Festival 2016: THE SECRET NOISE

Hidden music is brought to light, movement and sound

By Joana Simmons

In our world full of commercial pop music all sounding the same (looking at you, Taylor Swift) we are rarely challenged with sounds that are out of the ordinary. Sydney-based company Ensemble Offspring brings us The Secret Noise as part of the esteemed Melbourne Festival, with concept and composition by Damien Ricketson, and direction by Carlos Gomes. In a performance that sits somewhere between music, dance and installation, the multi-talented cast of seven (including Narelle Benjamin, Katherine Cogill, Katia Molino, Jason Noble, Claire Edwardes and Bree van Reyk) creates a world full of secret music; sounds that have slipped under the rug.

The Secret Noise.jpg

The beginning of the performance is small pop-up scenes and installations around the North Melbourne Town Hall where we have intimate exchanges with the performers. They take our drawings we coloured in upon arrival, and use them as inspiration for their contortion or composition. It’s a wonderful connection and exchange that gives each individual something different – not “we are performing this for everyone”, but “this is just for YOU.” The audience roams between these, and gathers in their seats. For the next hour, the cast plays a range of instruments – some of which I don’t know the name – but all make interesting sounds. There’s sacred forms of ceremonial music, legally extinguished compositions, a DJ playing an LP backwards, love songs and my favourite, whirling different tubes and pipes around really fast like helicopters that made interesting bird-like wind sounds. Strong fluid and flexible contemporary dancers integrate the interesting sounds and music to bring the whole thing together. Their incredible strength, technique and stamina captivates us.

The well-designed lighting (Fausto Brusamolino) gives the intimate installations at the start a special glow, and lights the full performance in a way that makes us feel like we are in a secret world. The costumes are simple and effective. I did find it difficult to see sometimes, as we were all sitting on the same level and some of the dance was on the floor or down one side of the room, so if you are vertically challenged, try and find a spot close to the front, but there is still plenty to listen to if you can’t see.

It is unclear what the journey of the show is, if there is one, but the skill level is so high and varied that is pay-off enough. It’s one of those performances where it resonates as something different with everyone: some moments weren’t quite my cup of tea but there were many that were. Challenge yourselves to explore something brilliantly different, The Secret Noise is defying genres and discovering magical creative gems for audiences of all ages to share and enjoy.

The Secret Noise was performed as part of the 2016 Melbourne Festival.
14-15 October
North Melbourne Town Hall


REVIEW: Melbourne Fringe Presents SUBURBIA

Driving out into the dark streets for immersive theatre experience

By Myron My

Most people dream of having their own little slice of the suburban dream; a loving family, a dog and a place to call home. What could be better than that? However, if you look under the surface, you’ll find that things are not always what they seem. Playing as part of the 2015 Melbourne Fringe FestivalSuburbia offers a glimpse into these lives we know little about.


My fellow two passengers and I meet at the steps of the North Melbourne Town Hall and are led to a parked car and the driver takes us through the streets of North Melbourne, stopping intermittently at various locations where we get to witness our neighbourhood in a very different light. We don’t stay at any location more than a couple of minutes and there is barely any dialogue exchanged. The soundtrack composition by Simone Gustafsson that plays in the car is perfectly suited to the theme of the night, provoking feelings of uncertainty and curiosity.

It is up to us to determine the scene, relationships and mood purely by what we see. There’s the couple having a heated argument in their car and the woman who is crossing the roundabout with determination. Suburbia is about showing us these snippets into the lives of those around us: those we don’t know and those we don’t see. The most striking moment of all was something that lasted just mere seconds but is the creepiest thing I have seen in “real life” in a very long time and I wonder what would have happened had someone from the public just happened to walk by.

Timing is of the essence with this show. As we drive from one vignette to another, there is no doubt that the rest of the cast (Cazz Bainbridge, Xavier O’ShannessyRoss De Winter, Anneli Bjorasen, Claudia NugentDavina Wright and Carolyn Butler) is frantically racing to get to their next location on time (not that this haste is ever obvious, however).

As we are driven around, my voyeuristic urges begin to slowly take over and I begin to look through other people’s windows and watch as local people walk past or cycle by or take their dog out for a late-night walk. I wonder if they’re aware of what is also happening right in front of their eyes.

Suburbia is an enjoyable immersive experience that will linger in your mind long after the car pulls back up to the North Melbourne Town Hall. The shared experiences with your fellow passengers can be varied (ours were), but the performance is a reminder that just because we don’t see these people in our own neighbourhoods doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

*Playing at Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall until Oct 3, the current 2015 Melbourne Fringe season of Suburbia is completely sold out*

Image by Rebekah Kamsky, featuring Davina Wright and Xavier O’Shannessy

REVIEW: Arts House Presents ENDINGS

Finding words about death

By Myron My

There is a familiar smell in the air as I take my seat at Arts House theatre space in North Melbourne Town Hall. Even though I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, it feels like rain on a cold, wet night with mist and fog in the air, which subsequently fits in poignantly with the show I am about to see: the show about death. In Endings, Tamara Saulwick explores our attempts to stay connected with loved ones after they have passed away.


Saulwick explores this concept in a very intimate setting with pre-recorded conversations with people who have lost loved ones as well as opening up about the death of her own father. These recordings and conversations describe not only the moments leading up to the death but the thoughts and actions immediately following. One person mentions photographing the deceased with family members and another recalls the shock of hospital staff at a request to bathe the deceased.

For those who have been affected by death, there are many emotions to be felt, and while most of the show deals with the nostalgia and sadness of death (the more ‘gentle’ of emotions), Saulwick also captures the fear and terror perfectly in a scene that, even though it lasts just seconds, lingers on for quite some time after.

There are numerous poignant moments in Endings, including the musical interludes by Paddy Mann. His songs are heartfelt yet simple with a soothing voice that brought up my own experiences of death and memories that seemed long forgotten. Approaching the seven-year anniversary of my mother’s passing, I couldn’t help but get a little emotional and once the lights came up at the end of the show, it was clear I was not the only one.

Speaking of lights, the lighting set and design by Ben Cobham is perfectly executed in Endings, capturing the profound mood and the themes of the show flawlessly. Spotlights appear on the performers, swinging lights cast shadows over the set pieces and the way the lights themselves move feels like they are spirits themselves, floating on stage.

Everyone will die. It is inevitable, yet it is also one of the most difficult things people can face. It comes as a surprise when death happens, as if we were supposed to be spared from this experience. Endings reminds us how to keep the memory and the stories we’ve shared with these people alive. It is the perfect tribute for anyone who has ever lost somebody they loved.

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

Season: Until 17 May | Thurs-Sat 7:30pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 5pm

Tickets: $30 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: Arts House

REVIEW: Arts House Presents FLUVIAL

Hypnotic, evocative and engrossing performance

By Myron My

It begins with a single chime that resonates through the room. It lingers in the space, bringing a calming, meditative state over the audience, and just as it ends another one begins and another and another.


I can only begin to wonder how composer and performer Matthias Schack-Arnott even began to visualise his installation for Fluvial. It consists of two rows about five metres long, of various metal rods, aluminum tubing and glass bottles running parallel to each other. A number of bottles and chimes hang from above with fishing wire, seemingly floating in the air. The pools of water along the rows and the name of the show itself, make this “river of percussion” a sight to behold.

Planted between the two rows is Schack-Arnott, our sole percussionist. As he slowly travels his way down, he creates a variety of sounds, some harmonious and some chaotic but even these latter create a sense of stillness in your mind. He is completely in the moment and the focus and concentration on his face is evident. You get the impression that every single drop of water splashed out of the pool and every clinking glass have been meticulously planned by Schack-Arnott.

The lighting design by Travis Hodgson works very well with the environment that is being set up. There is only a low light following Schack-Arnott, with everything else remaining in darkness. The only exception to is the sharp flashes of light that are formed by the materials on display. The feeling that the past and the future are not worth thinking about and our focus needs to be on the present is prevalent in the piece.

It’s no surprise that Fluvial won Schack-Arnott the 2014 Green Room Award for Outstanding Work by an Emerging Artist. It’s an enchanting piece of work that allows you to slow down and not only truly appreciate what you are watching and hearing, but also reflect on the effect it is having on you.

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

Season: Until 17 May | Thur-Sun 6:30pm, Fri 8.45pm, Sat 3.30pm, Sun 4pm

Tickets: $30 Full | $20 Conc

Bookings: Arts House

REVIEW: An Appointment with J Dark

Do you dare?

By Bradley Storer

The event began mysteriously:  a text message calling me to a rendezvous with a stranger named J Dark. Sent directions as if on a treasure hunt, I attended with an equal mixture of anticipation and dread for the coming events.

In this journey through the catacombic backrooms of the North Melbourne Town Hall, the participant is guided through a series of questions, choices, locations, situations and judgements, all incredibly personal but never exploitative, in search of revelation and new knowledge.

The enigmatic but gentle J Dark is at times therapist, partner, confidant, monster, and lover – the only constant in your guide, much like the labyrinth itself, is their unpredictability and mutability.

A piece like this is incredibly difficult to review, as each person will of course experience something as unique and varied as they themselves.  To describe any further would ruin the surprise and inherent joy of this piece, which is the thrill and danger of interacting directly with a performer (who may or may not be a performer) without the restrictions of traditional theatrical performance – like free-falling without a safety net.

While I cannot vouch for everyone’s enjoyment or revelation, this evening left me with a series of beautiful and striking images which haunt me still – a pale vampiric face lit by candlelight; the gloomy gothic ring of striking bells; a mesmerizing love song delivered directly in my ear; and, most important of all, an unopened door behind which lies a terrifying and thrilling adventure.

An Appointment with J Dark is an amazing and vibrant piece of theatre for those willing to take the plunge into the unknown.

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

Season: Wednesday, 18 April – Sunday, 6 May 2012

Time: Wed – Sun, 3pm, 6pm, 7pm, 8pm and 9pm. 35 – 50 minutes no interval (pending audience engagement).

Tickets: Full $20 / Conc $15

Bookings: artshouse.com.au or 03 9322 3713


An extraordinary performance of two remarkable new dance works

By Anastasia Russell-Head

Clouds Above Berlin, a double-bill presented by choreographers Melanie Lane and Antony Hamilton, showcases two pieces very different in aesthetic and expression, yet united by a finely-honed, precisely-crafted movement and attention to detail – and are both firmly rooted in the urban.

Melanie Lane’s Titled Fawn opens the evening with an abstract study into space and sound. A lone dancer manipulates brick-shaped cardboard boxes, creating fantastical highrise developments – at times like a miniature Le Corbusier cityscape. Tiny speakers inside the boxes create interesting sound landscapes; especially effective when the boxes are in motion. The movement of the boxes creates a subtle tension and release without the involvement of narrative – we wonder what she will do with the boxes next, will she be able to carry them all, will some of them drop?

Breaking into this very contemplative mood is a too-short interlude of disjointed, almost grotesque dance – in platform shoes. Lane’s movements in this section are fluid and hypnotic, and the sudden burst of energy a welcome counterpoint to the restraint of the rest of the piece. 

After interval Antony Hamilton’s Black Project 1 opens with a post-apocalyptic, post-traumatic bleakness where two dancers, almost camouflaged against the grey-black set, move in fragments, seeming to express an urgent narrative. This is both moving and engaging, drawing the audience into an abstract world of tenderness, tragedy and discovery.

The graffiti-inspired techno brilliance of the later part of the piece is simply stunning, with sound, light and movement all combining and overlapping to create an arresting and captivating panorama. Hamilton uses simple techniques, such as peeling off strips of masking tape, to create striking effects that look like digital wizardry.

I walked into the North Melbourne Town Hall not knowing what to expect from this show, and came out with a new appreciation for choreography, movement, and physicality. Highly recommended.

Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall
Until Sunday 11 March
Fri 9, 7.30pm
Sat 10, 2pm & 7.30pm
Sun 11, 5pm

Tickets: $25 / $20

Bookings: 9322 3713 or www.artshouse.com.au