Constructed Realities. Concept, choreography and direction by Clare Dyson. Canberra TheatreJanuary 9-11 and 15-18, 2003, 8pm. Bookings 6251 3959.
Following her two months residency at the Powerhouse, Brisbane, where this work was created, Dyson has received support from artsACT and the Canberra Theatre Centre to bring her vision of the Australian landscape back to her home town. The work is well worth the journey in many senses.
Rather than relegating her audience to merely watching a distant performance, Dyson invites us to explore the landscape of the theatre - inside and outside - travelling from station to station, from image to image, in a kind of almost religious meditation on the central theme "for white australia, landscape is seen as similar to the unconscious". The real sensations we experience, of wind and dust, of the built environment, traffic noise on City Circle, of the darkened stage, of controlled light and recorded music, become naturally mixed with images created by dancers, images on video screens, in sets and costumes, in words you hear and read.
The effect is to change one's perception of Australia as, in Gordon White's words, "we huddle on the coast, our faces turned to the waters, and to a world that despite the vast oceans and skies between us is closer than this voiceless arid void at our backs." There is no Aboriginal perspective here, deliberately so Dyson tells me, because though she finds herself drawn to the inland country of Tibooburra, The Corner and Innamincka, she realises she has no right to interpret the landscape "that is ours only in name, because we proclaim it to be ... never to possess. Never to know."
Yet her images of the well-dressed woman rearranging nature to make a nice garden, of the young woman in her wedding gown attached to her suburban green lawn, of relaxing with sexual overtones to a popular song with a cup of tea behind a city facade, are drawn not negatively, but with humour. All this is part of the landscape, too.
So go prepared for some real wind - take a jumper. And go prepared for an hour's journey from the city to the outback and return, except that you may find a little more of the inland stays with you back on the edge of the continent.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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