Monday, 11 July 2016

Perhaps Dramaturgy: Vincent van Berkel @ Edfringe 2016

'Best Original New Circus' - Melbourne Fringe 2015. Rockie Stone (Circa, Circus Oz) and Vincent van Berkel (Knee Deep, Circus Oz) present a new work exploring forward momentum in the face of a climatically changing, environmentally de-stabilizing world.
Perhaps Hope - Company Here and Now (Australia)

A changing world, becoming dirtier, more cramped, and warmer. Most of us don’t care. Why should we? Framed as a dreaming on climate change and the destabilisation of our planet’s environment, Perhaps Hope invites the viewer to see the humanity within the masses, the beauty in the ugliness and the truth underneath the lies.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
The pressing nature of the topic at hand (climate change), combined with an inquisitive mind-frame for the experimental and cross-medium style we have investigated. Part circus, part physical theatre, part experimental sculpture, part abstract left-wing climate change propaganda.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
Rockie and I chatted long into the night when we met up at Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2014, both eager to explore work that was both conceptual and meaningful. She’d just made an incredible show called Fright Or Flight and I was doing some cabaret shows and then joined Casus shortly afterward. She had an acrobatic partner at the time who was also a sculptor, and so the core team was born.

How did you become interested in making performance?
A beautiful circus festival in Tasmania stole my heart 6 years ago. I have now performed professionally for 6 years for small and large companies (ThisSideUp, Casus, Circus Oz) and created my own work for nearly as long.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
This creative process was organic, and didn't easily fit into a methodology I was familiar with at the time of creation. It was fascinating, but also something that I find difficult to convey to people. We addressed what needed addressing immediately: we jumped from whiteboard to rehearsal room to editing suite to video review to text and video, depending on the day or mood. 

Building basic acrobatic and movement languages and textures to sit within the context of the show was essential and something I feel we are still progressing with as time goes on.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Something personal. We don’t spoon-feed a message to our audience or shove it down their throats, but rather create a context and environment for them to draw their own conclusions. Our show is more a mirror than it is a narrative story or lecture. Kind of like a hall of mirrors: after you’ve seen yourself in all those warped reflections you might see yourself a little more clearly. We hope they enjoy themselves, or not, but come out effected in some way, which may make them see our point of view about the necessity for the world to change before it’s too late.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
We stayed away from the literal, and tried to simplify where possible. When something looks like a boat, we don’t need to bring out the fake oars and row it across the stage.  The action and the music coexisting is a big priority for us, with neither one leading or following at any one time. Symbolism is important: of the cyclical nature of things, of man’s tendency to repeat past mistakes. 

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
My first circus show as an adult was Acrobat’s Propaganda (The legendary Simon Yates and Jo Lancaster, and their children) and I feel that has undoubtedly influenced everything I’ve ever done after that moment. I’m not sure if it’s in any particular tradition however - one could call it Australian, but in recent years with Circa’s explosion that definition has changed. Some Australians say that Perhaps Hope is European in style, whatever that means. I’d simply call it New Circus. 

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