Monday, May 5, 2008

Back From Front

First up in May is Dean Walsh's BACK FROM FRONT at the Performance Space at Carriageworks. BACK FROM FRONT began as a short solo work called EX-SERVICED in 2002. It was according to Mr Walsh "a personal response to my grandfather's disclosure of some very disturbing circumstances he experienced " in the Second World War. This work has now grown to cover a much larger canvass of interest. "a poetic reflection on the cycles of violence from a global perspective to domestic and individual unrest". Other reflections are "on the loss of innocence" and "about deep hope-hope in individuals realising the need to change and embrace their humanity ". Dean Walsh goes on to say “he has chosen to make this work via physical language and visual media" This work has been developing over the past 4 years. The first night performance was cancelled because of some computer difficulties and on the following night one could appreciate the problems that may have caused the delay. The Media Artist ROLANDO RAMOS has made a considerable contribution and with the Composer/ Sound Designer ROSALIND PAGE; the Lighting and Software Design by SIMON WISE had a Herculean task. My experience of the performance was that Dean Walsh had taken on more than he can do at this time. Not only were the technical demands enormous the combined Direction/Choreographer responsibility were great as well. The direction was languid it lacked propulsion and a clear path of communication. The choreography appeared to be under rehearsed and approximate. (The exception was Marnie Palomares.) Although the seminal idea for the concept has merit and some nobility the Dramaturgical work, NIKKI HEYWOOD, seems to be perfunctory. The work has nothing new to say and it has been said before and in much more satisfactory ways. The statements were hackneyed. Once again this work fails at the beginning of the process. The Concept/Text has not been structured rigorously enough and nurtured searchingly throughout the process. If this were workshop then the remedial work can be begun. It is exciting to see artists exploring across creative and technical intergradations to express their concerns. One thought immediately of Garry Stewart, Nigel Jamieson (in HONOUR BOUND), and in my most recent experience of this, Lloyd Newsome's Company DV8 at the Adelaide Festival and his work TO BE STRAIGHT WITH YOU. I thought it would be great to have an artist like Mr Dean with this kind of vision to be mentored to one or all of these companies. While studying the program subsequently I found that this had in some kind of fashion occurred. Certainly this work can only become better with focused continued development as is, but I do feel the dramaturgical approach is the basic flaw no matter how much time passes for the work to tighten up.

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