The Age I’m In

“…conversely, there is an overwhelming sense of universality that elements of what is being expressed could apply to almost any era in many languages.”
Jill Sykes, Sydney Morning Herald – Read more…

THE AGE I’M IN

Young, old or somewhere in the middle, this piece captures a bit of us all in its affectionate look at Australian society.

Young, old or somewhere in the middle, this piece captures a bit of us all in its lively and affectionate look at Australian society. You laugh, wince and could even weep at times for the poignancy of the points it makes.

The choreographer, Kate Champion, and her crew of performers make effective use of a technique honed by the animated television show Creature Comforts: the dancers lip-sync to the words of Australians who were recorded as they discussed matters ranging from the banal to the profound. Some are refreshingly politically incorrect, others sound quite shocking for being said on stage rather than across the water cooler.

Several things set these recorded thoughts above the level of ordinariness. One is the theatricality in which they have been cradled – Champion makes clever use of hand-held video screens to extend the production well beyond the workshop process that spawned it. Then there is the sense of identification: this is us, here and now. And, conversely, there is an overwhelming sense of universality that elements of what is being expressed could apply to almost any era in many languages.

Offering the words mostly as a voice-over – sharing a soundtrack with an entertaining selection of music from Benny Goodman to my favourite, Treme Brass Band – gives the performers a chance to move freely without having to worry about speaking. The lip-sync can sometimes add a comic ingredient. For instance, a classic female exchange to our ears takes place for our eyes between a woman and a tall man with a beard.

The dance comes in the form of movement that expresses thoughts and relationships, often entwining bodies such as the endearing family trio of clasped and broken embraces, and several sensitively intimate duets. The differences in dance skills give veracity to their meanings.

As director of this piece and the company Force Majeure, Champion has chosen a wide range of people for her cast of 10. They include well-known dancers Kirstie McCracken and Byron Perry, who show a gift for comedy; the indefatigable Brian Harrison who declares himself to be 78; the eloquent middle-years dancer Roz Hervey; a very good actor and dancer Daniel Daw who has cerebral palsy and works his physical challenges into his performance; and an actor who became an outstanding mover, Vincent Crowley.
They make a great team with something to communicate. Catch it if you can.

Jill Sykes, Sydney Morning Herald

“Is this really contemporary dance? Is it really theatre? Does it matter? It’s Kate Champion’s Force Majeure and it’s brilliant”
By Diana Simmonds – Read more…

THE AGE I’M IN

Equal elements of theatre, hi-tech and low jokes

To make this new work, Kate Champion gathered a troupe of disparate Australians: young, old, agile, not so agile, dancers, not so dancers, able, not so able, actors and not so actorly and put them in a room until she and they discovered their stories, hopes, dreams and nightmares. The recorded messages from inner space that were the result of this process were then spliced with music, sound, video technology, laughter, wit, imagination and truckloads of humanity to make one of the more glorious events of this festival.

The Age I’m In is grouped in the About an Hour dance series but it has equal elements of theatre, hi-tech and low jokes and crosses so many boundaries it probably ought to have a passport. As well as the laughs there are moments of poignancy and sorrow as well as startling home truths and great beauty.

The use of handheld video screens is innovative and integrated, adding an unexpected and occasionally shocking dimension. For instance, how better to depict the effects of a fragmenting mental state than to see that person literally split apart in separate screens. At the same time, disembodied pre-recorded everyday interviews with “real” people are brought to life through mimed performance in a human version of the ABC TV clay-mation series Creature Comforts. And just as happens on telly, the disjunction between the utterances and the mouthpieces somehow permits a wide and often outrageous spectrum of mundane (or profound) viewpoints.

The Age I’m In is an ensemble piece where the choreographer is the off-stage 10th member of the troupe whose witty work lifts her performers to another level – sometimes quite literally – and depicts their characters and emotions in startling ways (men as women, women as men, partings, greetings, happiness and sorrow all evoked through movement that is separate from but integral to the spoken elements). Is this really contemporary dance? Is it really theatre? Does it matter? It’s Kate Champion’s Force Majeure and it’s brilliant.

Diana Simmonds, Stage Noise

“…one of the most poignant, humorous and unforgettable pieces of theatre you’ll see.”
LiveGuide.com

“…funny and utterly uplifting…filled with beauty, constructed of simple and innocent moments of truth, hope and pure emotion”
Alex Lalak – Daily Telegraph

Photos: Heidrun Löhr / Byron Perry / Tony Melov