Sunday, July 1, 2012

Images from Museum of Now at PICA

Following torch light into a dark theatre space, we are led into a cave pinpricked in patterns of light through tiny holes as performers whisper "Can you see it now, how about now?" 

Artists and kids produced one of the most beautiful nights of brave, interactive and uncompromising theatre I have seen this year. As part of PICA's Spark_Lab program The Museum of Now was a promenade style performance installation through eight of PICA's gallery and performance spaces. Spark_Lab is PICA's exciting new arts learning program designed to grow innovators of the future, and this sold out show was the work of over 60 students involved in an artist residency program at Mt Lawley Senior High School with artists James Berlyn (Lead artist), Tristen Parr, Lloyd Godman and Josh Hogan.

photo by Toni Wilkinson

Led by a tour guide who sporadically surprised us with facts of what is 'now',  we journeyed from place to place in a feast for the senses and opening of the imagination through spoken monologue, light, sound, dance, song, story and sculpture:

Up the spiral staircase to the clock tower and into a room floored with autumn leaves and traces of childhood piled up around a young dj mixing sound from his laptop and drawing on his arm.  Wearing wireless white headphones collected at the top of a spiral staircase we were instructed to lay down  - the loud sound reverberated through body and mind. Literally a moving experience.

Into a room where the audience is invited to press the button to direct the action of solo performers who each hold a button and a story . Eye contact is easy and endearing as they tell us how many video games they have played, boxes of cereal eaten, homework forgotten and books read. It is a soundscape of stories begun and interrupted, unsettling the idea of the present, hinting at future and grounding years in the past.

Another room, another group of performers - A table of cards with symbols and again we drive the action, holding up triggers for response from the human 'orchestra' . As conductors we test and take the players beyond what they know and learnt responses are mixed and matched in a live re-telling of of a choose your own adventure kind of performance.

A mad hatters tea party in Victorian dress was stripped to modern day chatter and a backdrop pulled away to introduce a rock band in full force singing and swaying us back into our own memories displaced and affirmed by these teenage commandeers.

Arrival into a quiet room after so much noise. A single boy in the corner surrounded by a mountain of crumpled 'draft' pages. A short monologue on the state of the world as he lights a match and fires a candle, placing a clear container over the flame we watch as is slowly fades to black.
photo by Toni Wilkinson
"The Museum of Now asked these incredible young people to take on leadership roles, to takes risks and step beyond their prior experience to become responsible for their own creative endeavours. Their energy, honesty and commitment to this project has been overwhelming. I hope we are given the chance to present it again in the future so that it reaches the wider audience it deserves". Tara Daniel, Education Program Manager, PICA's Spark_Lab

Where are you right now? 

photo by Toni Wilkinson

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