From Somebody Everybody, with artistry and love

 

Review by KIERAN FINNANE. Photos by ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Without the love, the artistry might have felt abstract; without the artistry, the love might have felt sentimental. As it was Somebody Everybody, a theatrical performance by the StArts with D ensemble, united both in a satisfying, moving experience.

 

Members of StArts with D are people with disabilities and, as the show reveals, unsuspected depths of ability. The achievement of the production, developed in four stages over two years, was to shape the troupe’s creative and self-expressive abilities into a series of vignettes around key images of loss and discovery, and then to have them partner with artistic collaborators – on and off stage – who could support their performance without taking over.

 

Thus the set, designed by director Kat Worth, was simplicity itself while also operating in a sophisticated way. Constructed from innumerable cardboard boxes forming a high wall it served as metaphor – for our tendency to put people ‘in boxes’ –  while also creating the theatrical space. Sometimes it was used as a surface for projection or, most effectively, multiple projections; at other times the boxes, some with doors, became elements of a domestic setting, places where you might lose or find something.

 

At either side the wall of boxes broke down into wings at seat height, like enfolding arms. Performers and stage hands all sat together here when they weren’t central to the action. This contributed to the ease of entries and exits as well as to an atmosphere of intimacy.

 

On stage, collaborators James Loveday, Melissa Kerl, Miriam Nicholls and Stephanie Harrison worked alongside the ensemble with a mixture of respectful tenderness and sheer enjoyment which the well-conceived structure of the show fostered. The mood, colour and imagery changed from vignette to vignette, giving the different performers their moment to shine.

 

The images were straightforward yet poignant, things like ‘the shoe being on the other foot’. It was the physical and emotional range of the performance that lifted the content to a whole other level – stretching, I imagine, the performers’ experience of their own bodies; stretching too the preconceptions, however unconscious, of many in the audience. Here were acrobatics, comic routines, playfully flirtatious sketches; here was some light satire; here was rock ‘n’ roll!

 

But above all here was an enabling strength of relationship between collaborators and the ensemble, given artistic form. This is what was so moving. Loveday lifting Daniel Benson high in the air and bringing him down again (pictured, left and right), the trust and tenderness between the two; the acrobatics Loveday supported Trew to achieve; the affectionate ease between Kerl and Nicholls and their various partners, no doubt built over time, the confidence that it has unleashed allowing the performers to present disciplined song and dance routines and dramatic sequences – all this was very memorable.

 

And it gave real depth to the production title, Somebody Everybody. Between audience and performers passed a wonderful experience of shared humanity.

 

The show was presented by Incite Arts in collaboration with Acacia Hill School and Life Without Barriers. Formerly Incite Youth Arts, this year the organization has amalgamated with Arts Access Central Australia. Rebadged as Incite Arts they will continue to deliver arts programs to youth, people with disabilities, Aboriginal and other diverse communities.

 

Below: Michael Wallace and Harishma Katakarinja.

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3 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Victoria Monk
    Posted November 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Congratulations to Virginia Heydon, the long standing energy behind InCite Youth Arts, making a difference in the community through the creative industries.

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  2. Sandy Taylor
    Posted November 19, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    What a wonderful performance experience for me; explained best by Kieran, but the simplicity of the set was what struck me most!
    Then, the abilities of the performers and the complete trust which they had to have in their collaborators; especially the lads who worked with James.
    I was in awe at the talents of each and every individual, so aptly brought out by the Director Kat Worth.
    Impressive to say the least. We are so lucky to have so many talented and compassionate people working in this field, breaking down the barriers of life. Congratulations to you all.

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  3. Posted November 19, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Thanks Kieran for your heartfelt words and images of this amazing, moving performance. ‘somebody everybody’ was the reason I was in Alice Springs last week and I was blessed to have time at a rehearsal, then backstage, front of house and at the after parties.
    Best of all, I saw all four performances and I can only imagine the hours of work leading up to these sometimes different, always wonder-filled shows which you wrote about with such sensitivity and insight.
    Thanks too all you dedicated generous loving and talented souls who made ‘somebody everybody’ possible.
    Literally every moment spent in the company of this extraordinary troupe has opened my heart to what is possible when true seeing and listening are combined with professional skills, humour and love. More please, Incite and Kat.

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