|Wanna Be A Rabbit|
At a time when independent dance companies and theatre groups are struggling to stay open, one unstoppable Melbourne group is quietly celebrating its 24th year and busily rehearsing its new show, Wanna Be A Rabbit.
Far from retreating into isolation during Melbourne’s lockdown, Weave Movement Theatre’s performers banded together over Zoom to rehearse and create new works including Red Thread, an exquisite short film featuring a collage of the performers filming themselves dancing in lockdown.
Artistic Director, Janice Florence, says lockdown broke through the isolation that disabled people already dealt with, and opened a new world of online connection and creativity.
“In many ways, having a disability can be very isolating, due to the ongoing barriers to travel, transport, attending performances, and fully participating in our world. Covid19 lockdown meant that everyone suddenly experienced that isolation, and new worlds of understanding and creativity opened up for everyone.”
Weave was the first disability-led (rather than led by non-disabled people) dance theatre company in Australia, and is unique in that it involves disabled and neurodiverse performers (rather than focusing on a specific disability). Their intent is on being highly visible, not ‘fitting in’, and, to paraphrase disability advocate Stella Young, “Not being anyone’s inspiration, thank you very much.”
“In Australia, people with a disability are still treated as less-than-human. Non-disabled people still feel uncomfortable around disability, and see us as either heroic or tragic figures. We’re either sub-human or super-human, to fit society’s idea of what’s acceptable,” Janice says.
“So society tends to celebrate disabled athletes who excel…but ignore anyone who doesn’t look, sound, or behave ‘normally’. Weave doesn’t focus on performers’ particular disability; we embrace each performers’ unique style, strengths, ability and personality.”
True to Weave’s ethos of producing high-quality, subversive performances that have impact and cultural currency, Wanna Be A Rabbit promises to both entertain and challenge audiences of all ages. Through dance, physical theatre, visual installation and humour, the show unravels the human compulsion to categorise, judge, and distance ‘difference’.
“In Australia rabbits are largely reviled, so we’re touching a nerve in terms of the way disabled people are viewed… but we’re also approaching the issues of survival, identity, and belonging from a darkly humorous perspective. It’s thoughtful mayhem laced with comic mischief.”
Directed in collaboration with Yumi Umiumare.
The high-impact show includes visual and aural elements; costumes by Brynna Lowen and Joe Noonan, Cubist-inspired masks and a large-scale art installation by Thai sculptor and multimedia artist Pimpisa Tinpalit, and soundscape by Dan West.
Wanna Be A Rabbit opens at Meat Market North Melbourne on Friday 28 May.
Venue: The Stables at Meat Market, 2 Wreckyn Street, North Melbourne 3051