Tag Archives: Seymour Centre

Seven Kilometres North-East

11 Mar

What is the purpose of Art? To remind the miserable that there is happiness, and the happy that there is misery.

Kym Vercoe’s self devised piece does just that. There are moments that are charming and beautiful, and others that are confronting and disconcerting.

Vercoe narrates her multiple trips to Bosnia, and her growing understanding of the region’s very troubled history. Her stage presence is confident, strong, yet vulnerable – a mix that powerfully evokes the magnitude of the historical events and offers a truly human response.

Seven Kilometres North East is a deeply moving and thought provoking piece.

Photo by Heidrun Lohr

Photo by Heidrun Lohr

 

One of the most unnerving moments occurs when Vercoe realizes that the men responsible for the most shocking of war crimes are probably still living in the town she has repeatedly visited. An acquaintance attempts to calm her, “Don’t worry. They won’t rape or shoot you. It’s not the 90’s.”

In the 90’s,  safely in Australia, I lost friends to arguments about what was happening in the former Yugoslavia. One friend, of Serbian background, went from simply shaking her head and moaning “They’re all crazy” to an intense and painful partisanship. Another friend, defended the NATO air strikes on Belgrade with a fearsome logic: “But we’re the good guys.”

Has theatre the ability to deal with this sort of political and historical complexity? Does it need to? Vercoe’s focus is moral, and she does not offer analysis; she offers judgement. This is not a criticism, though many might think it is. In navigating the human experience empathy gets you further than explanation.

But the piece is far from simplistic. In fact, it’s provocatively self aware. Vercoe refers to thano-tourism; that is, the touring of sites of genocide and mass death. What is the perverse attraction? And we’re forced to ask, is this what Vercoe has succumbed to? After all, why does she need to tell this story? She wasn’t there at the time. Neither were any of her relatives. It’s not her story. (Unless, of course, you subscribe to the idea that we’re all brothers and sisters. As an idea it’s dreadfully unfashionable, and absolutely vital.)

Veronica Kaye

 

Seven Kilometres North-East by Kym Vercoe

Seymour Centre til 22 March

 

 

The Dead Ones

21 Feb

A woman stands at a podium. She reads from a script, softly and calmly. To her left is projected a series of family photos.  Margie Fischer shares with us her experience of clearing her family house, once the last of her family are gone.

It’s a wonderfully generous sharing.

Dead Ones Margie 2

And it’s fascinating because it encapsulates two of the fundamental features of our world; our materialism and our sense of lost time. Were anthropologists from another time and place to find this performance, it might be their Rosetta stone. (Another time and place – see how I struggle to disentangle myself?)

As Fischer decides what to keep and what to discard from the now empty family home, she’s only too aware of how objects are imbued with value through their connection with people, and that this stored value will slowly leach away. She realizes there’s little use in keeping much.

As we are shown photos of family members who have passed, I’m reminded of the strangeness of the medium. Do photos capture a moment? Or do they stop time? Stop it like a dam stops a river? Stop the flow of a river, and is it a river anymore?

Our culture is obsessed with movement, with the passing of time, with history. And the trouble with history is that, in it, people go. In every culture people die. In ours, they are gone. And photos, often our most treasured objects, can do only what objects do; they retain value for a while, and then they fade to mere history.

Fischer does not make all the philosophical and cultural generalizations I’m making. Her story is personal, honest and powerful. Powerful like the gentle flow of a river.

Veronica Kaye

 

The Dead Ones by Margie Fischer

Seymour Centre til 22 Feb

http://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/the-dead-ones/

Singled Out

4 Oct

I had a friend, who desperately needing to get somewhere, stole a car. I don’t know where it was he was so keen to go, but unless his desired destination was Goulburn Correctional Facility, his decision proved an unwise one.

When he was released, I asked what it had been like. Apparently, apart from the obvious fact he couldn’t leave, the experience wasn’t so bad. Free food. Free accommodation. The only problem? The company. “I had to spend a whole year of my life with a bunch of criminals,” he said.

Other people.

They’re a challenge.

And increasing numbers of us are choosing to live alone.

Why we are choosing this, and what are its consequences, is the subject matter of Augusta Supple’s Singled Out.

Josipa Draisma in Grace De Morgan's "Ikea". Photo by Marnya Rothe

Josipa Draisma in Grace De Morgan’s “Ikea”.
Photo by Marnya Rothe

Supple has pulled together a brilliant team of writers and actors. In a series of playlets, this team explores the phenomena from multiple angles. It makes for a fascinating night of theatre. There’s powerfully delivered monologues, cute puppetry and some good laughs.

I don’t write reviews. I write about what theatre makes me think about.

This production made me think about solipsism – the belief that other people don’t really exist.

It made me think this because the choice to live alone smacks strongly of a desire to avoid others. I make no moral judgement. In fact, I’m going to argue the opposite of what you might suppose.

Solipsism, or the question of whether other people actually exist, is a fascinating philosophical issue. I don’t mean it’s interesting in the sort of silly way, that as an undergraduate student, I cut my teeth on arguments about whether the chair I was sitting on was actually there. It’s interesting because it asks me to question how seriously I take the proposition that other people are independent of me and hence equal to me.

The acceptance of the actual existence of others is the great ethical challenge.

A clever monologue begins Singled Out. Performed by Roland Baker and written by Luke Carson, it cheekily asks what are the economic ramifications of the trend to single living. People are reduced to dollars.

It’s only too easy to reduce those around us, both locally and globally, to something less than human. Other people become extras in our private movie, tin soldiers in our conflicts, annoying randoms in the crowd. We don’t take them, or their needs, seriously.

Accepting that other people are independent of us (that is, real) doesn’t mean we’re isolated from them. In fact, the contrary is the case. Acceptance of true otherness is how a relationship begins. Otherwise it’s just exploitation. Or neglect. I can only understand someone else’s needs when I actually listen to them and not merely play games with the toy version of them I have in my head.

The decision to live alone is an assertion of independence. It’s also a potent symbol for an authentic life, the beginning point where both ourselves and others are given the space to be acknowledged and appreciated as individuals.

It was an exciting theatrical decision for Augusta Supple to explore the concept of living alone, and with an engaging and no doubt deliberate irony, the result is stimulating examination of our relationship with others.

Veronica Kaye

Singled Out

Seymour Centre til 12 Oct

http://www.seymourcentre.com/events/event/singled-out/

Writers: Vanessa Bates, Wayne Blair, Sarah Carradine, Luke Carson, Emma Magenta, Grace De Morgan, Tim Spencer, Alli Sebastian Wolf

Performers: Amanda Stephens Lee, Bali Padda, Rosie Lourde, Josipa Draisma, Leofric Kingsford -Smith, Amber McMahon, Roland Baker, Eloise Snape, Richard Cox, Alex Bryant-Smith, Paul Armstrong and Kate Fitzpatrick