Serena Chalker combines imagination, wordcraft and dance to create a totally new thoughtscape for each participant in her latest FringeWorld offering.
Handed headphones with iPods and instructed to enter one at a time, at staggered intervals, none of the audience knows what to expect. Pressing play as I step through the door, Serena Chalker’s voice directs me to stand, look and be part of the anteroom before entering the performance space.
The performance space itself, when I enter, has lamps, chairs, an old telephone stool and some steps leading to a light, as well as the audience members who preceded me, all in various positions, some moving, some standing, some sitting. The voice in the headphones further fills the space with other furniture, other people, other views out of the windows, while instructing me where to move, to take my own place in the experience of everyone else in the room. Each participant’s progress is different, so one person draws part of a map on a wall while another stands on a step and turns off a light while another person goes near neither point but writes a letter in an armchair.
Being a dance performance, Chalker performs through the midst of this. She is in constant progress, but the dance itself is hard to observe – while it keeps changing, much of it goes unseen by each individual. Each participant has a different perception, as the dancer slides out of sight on the floor, behind props, behind other people, or simply because the narrative tells us to turn and face the wall. Chalker continues to move, stretching, stepping, taking a person by the hand and skipping them about the room. The heat sees her soaking wet with exertion but she does not stop, not until the last person has retraced their steps and departed.
Combined with Chalker’s movements, the sensation of watching other people move in the space is part of the experience, each participant responding to unique instructions and individual interpretations of directions and imagination-seeding visual cues.
While it can be distracting and a break to the flow of performance to have dancers deliver lines, Chalker’s voice issuing instructions and describing scenes creates layers of experience in this piece. Her assured voice recordings enrich the sparse hall, describing a series of vivid scenes, watching pebbles crumble to sand, a woman crossing the street and men in hi vis gear walking by. A painting of horses hangs on the wall, a tartan rocking chair teeters and each participant grows their own space in response.
A space that could be everywhere, nowhere and so specifically grounded in our emotions and experiences and memories, is created from moment to moment as we walk around the space, sit, stand, write, draw, gaze up through the ceiling and remember. every/nowhere is an intriguing concept that has been executed with care and will transport audiences bringing trust and willingness to participate.
Perth FringeWorld 2015
Concept, Performance, Sound and Original Text by Serena Chalker
Venue: The Chapel Space, North Perth
Dates: 4 – 8 and 11 – 15 February 2015