No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: No Strings Attatched

Interview: Zoe Barry and Howling Like A Wolf

The abandoned warehouse space which is Queens Theatre seems to have hit a new stride and has, all of a sudden, become my favourite place to see theatre. In a city which seriously struggles in performance spaces I’m really excited to see the Queens claimed in earnest by interesting artists both during and outside of fringe time. We desperately need these flexible performance spaces, and because of the particular challenges of the Queens we are really getting an opportunity to see artists stretch their creative muscles.

Next in the venue we’ll be seeing Restless Dance Theatre with their new work Howling Like A Wolf. Director Zoe Barry and I meet one chilly Sunday morning to discuss the show she has been working on for two and a half years with performers from four disability performing arts companies in Adelaide: Restless, No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability, the Tutti Ensemble, and Company@.

The show began when Barry was invited by Kate Sulan, the artistic director of Melbourne’s Rawcus, to work with the companies on a weekend residency. The two companies worked together on The Heart of Another is a Dark Forest at the Melbourne Fringe, and this was an opportunity for members of Restless’ company to see how Rawcus develops work.

As they were trying to come up with a theme for the weekend, Barry says she had just read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink.

The book, she says, was:

looking at how we take in information in the blink of an eye, how we read situations and all the levels of information that we read, and what goes into our reading a situation. What is assumed, what prejudices do we hold, what implicit associations do we have, and then also how does our brain compute.

He’s fascinated with psychology so he went into a lot of psychological investigation about that. And there was a lot of stuff about reading people, and he looked at lying and micro-expressions, and I thought that would be really interesting for the performers, because they’d all have really different experiences of reading others, and also being read, as well, by others.

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Fringe Review: Sons & Mothers

Sons & Mothers: titles don’t get much more explanatory than that.  This show, quiet and simple, yet swelling with ideas, stories, heart, and, eventually, making our eyes swell with tears, is the stories of those relationships.  Seven sons tell the stories of their seven mothers, of childhood and adulthood and all the fun times and stumbles along the way.  These sons lovingly introduce us to their lives, their stories, and their mothers.

In 2005, director Alirio Zavarce returned to Adelaide from a visit to his mother in Venezuela.  The trip wasn’t a happy one: he had returned to say good-bye to his dying mother, a huge loss in his life, his family, and particularly in the life of his older brother who had been blind since childhood.  In Adelaide, he was comforted by the men he has worked with for many years through No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability’s Male Ensemble.  These men told him stories of their relationships with their mothers: some alive, some no longer with us, but always in their hearts.

From these conversations, Alirio and these men eventually built Sons & Mothers, a devised work sharing their lives and loves for their mothers.  For many of these men, Alirio tells us, the relationship with their mother is probably the closest relationship they will ever have with a woman.

The work is embodied not only with pathos, struggle, and great heart, but perhaps all the more importantly, with great humour.  They have demonstrated an acute understanding of how to play their audience (“Clipsal makes me angry” is proudly proclaimed by Duncan to the no doubt arty audience who has been putting up with the sound of hornets and road blocks), but also a want to show the joy and loves in their lives.  Some of these men have lost their mothers, they have all certainly faced (and will continue to face) discrimination and difficulties, but we are privileged enough to see them at their most joyous, doing something they love, and are good at: performing on stage, telling their stories, and sharing their loves and fears with an audience who are absolutely there along for the ride.

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