Expect the unexpected, that’s probably the best advice I can give you regarding Gabrielle New’s production of Creature. Having never seen the Japanese performance art of Butoh before, little did I anticipate the sometimes shocking, sometimes elegant but mostly incomprehensible imagery I was about to encounter.
Described by the director as a trip down Alice’s rabbit hole and into Wonderland, New also borrows themes from Dorothy’s journey though OZ. Creature sets out to explore the journey’s we may encounter as we discover our place through the different vortex’s (read: stages) of life.
The opening act; Void unfolds as the performers’ slowly strip away their cocoon like costumes to reveal the avian creatures inside. The incredibly slow to start piece is at times difficult to grasp as the light/shadows created often hide the performance from view. This is, I can only imagine to create an air of ambiguous mystery around the performance and was quite effective in garnering my attention as the “blink and you’ll miss it” performance was played out.
Butoh is the Japanese performance art first seen after WW2 during the student riots. Developed by Japanese dance legends Tatsumi Jijikat and Kazuo Ohno, the performances are often ambiguous and involve taboo topics while using extreme environments. Butoh has no set style and ranges from extreme movements to absolute stillness.
The strongest theme I found throughout Creature was that of life and survival, as the dancers embodied creatures that were indicative of the evolution process.
Including an all Melbourne cast, the heroine of the performance Medea Jones was the stand out performer whose technical ability was one of the more lovely to watch.
I found creature utterly confusing to watch, but if the origins of the performance art are to be believed, then this was the desired result. In managing to confuse and disorientate the audience, Creature remained true to its origins and somewhat sketchy history of Butoh.
Creature left me wondering and asking many questions about art and dance. If you enjoy being taken on an exotic journey through the weird and wonderful this is the performance for you, mind you leave the kids at home however as the nudity may not be appropriate for younger audiences.
The Space Between Performance Collective presents
Directed by Gabrielle New
Venue: TheatreWorks | 14 Acland Street, St Kilda
Dates: 14 – 17 September, 2011
Tickets: $27 Full, $22 Concession