Sunday, May 1, 2011
TRAPTURE presented by Sands through the Hourglass in association with Tamarama Rock Surfers Theatre at the Old Fitzroy Theatre.
TRAPTURE, says the blurb, is bleeding theatre into performance art. Oh, yeah. "Outrageous and visceral"! - mmm? For who?
A woman (Sarah Enright) dressed in slinky full length dress and gag greets each of us as we enter the Old Fitz theatre space. The walls are draped in plastic, the seats are covered in plastic. There is an air of fun (and potential danger?) Above the stage there is a technical arsenal of sound gear, being treated by Basil Hogios, live, for our atmospheric immersion, who is nattily dressed in contemporary suited-hipster style - black famed spectacles and all. We notice a dinner-suited gent (Simon Corfield) standing on the side.
Once all of us are in this titillating space, the two move to each other and begin an intimate tongue in each others cheek and sexual embrace and "maul" (steamy) and gradually they escalate into a night of sex game play and aberrant fantasy. For instance, she operates on him under blue plastic covers and he ends up with a vagina. We get plastic snakes thrown at us (oh, come on, where is the pigs bleeding innards, at least?) He pisses into a bowl from his new vagina. She is forced fed his shit. She cuts out his heart and cooks it for us. And so much more.
Think low budget THE WAR OF THE ROSES, with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas or MR AND MRS SMITH with Angelina and Brad. This is a fun show that wants to believe that it is 'dirty', 'edgy' and raunchy but it's actually highly sanitised, and is suitable for all ages.
Those of us that have grown-up attending Sydney fringe venues of over too many performance-art-history-years; those of us that have been assaulted and confronted and splashed with real bodily fluids from the late sixties up to now, 2011; those of us that get to the QUICK AND DIRTY, Mardi Gras events or fondly remember the Man Jam exploits or Gurlesque or the Kingpins or Mike Parr’s toilet exhibition at the Biennale time before last; those of us who still get to the Red Rattler or PACT Theatre Space or Performance Space; those of us who remember AKHE - Russian Engineering Theatre’s WHITE CABIN in the Playhouse at the mainstream Sydney Festival a few years ago, may find TRAPTURE a pallid, but endearing night of naughty children's games.
But those of you that have never encountered sexual boundary riding (real or pretend) will find this a nice and safe entry point to whet your appetites for the real thing if you really, really like it and really, really look for it. This won the Sydney Morning Herald’s “Most Thrilling Theatrical Event Award” in 2010 and is definitely aimed comfortably at the SMH general reader.
Shannon Murphy directs, Lucilla Smith has done a neat design, Teegan Lee, the lighting. Sarah Enright and Simon Corfield are serious and fun. But the best bit, if you are a jaded performance art attendee like me, is the 'genius' of the live performance of Basil Hogios. He was great on my night.
What do you reckon? A laksa and a silly, fun show that might encourage ‘adventures' at home afterwards. The TAMARAMA ROCK SURFERS REALLY expanding our possible theatre boundaries. Go.
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From one blogger to another, congratulations on the success of your site and your conviction and passion for the arts which I see inspires it.
In the spirit of artistic freedom, I wanted to offer up some comments to your review of Trapture which I feel have been missed.
I’m honestly just plain curious, was it necessary to list all the different actions of what takes place, which upon first read seems to yank out the individual elements that support the storytelling? Doing so seemingly has the potential to lead your readers into an ill pre-conceived notion and judgement of what all those elements are actually about. Surely it would be better to wet the appetite for potential viewers, not lead them to believe that ‘this is what the set menu is for this evening’s performance’. Can I ask, as a boy did you pick out all the chocolate chips from the cookie and leave the biscuit on the plate :-)?
I stumbled across Time Out’s review this morning and thought they managed to leave just enough bread crumb and chocolate bits on the plate for their viewers to lick a little and want more http://www.au.timeout.com/sydney/theatre/events/25094/trapture.
I experienced (on the 2 occasions I saw the piece) a witty articulated story on the nature of romantic love and monogamy, at times striking a few chords to close to home, “oooh crap I’ve done that”, more so than being an example of sexual boundary riding (have you listened to a conversation on the bus lately of what 16yr olds get up to, shish!). These specific actions that you share, to me are huge metaphors for what occurs in all relationships, that many in society go out of their way to hide and deny as the truth of anything they would ever do. This is bold truth saying “ahh look at what we all do & how absurd it all really when in the end there is only love”. Did you catch this? I don’t think it’s about the lubed up snakes being thrown into the audience (which as a side note makes your hand heat up if you happen to catch one!). I’m sure if you threw em a few extra $$ something a little more hygienically extravagant (beyond pig carcass) could be arranged.
Being quite a passionate follower of NIDA peeps in recent years, this director appears to me to be one of the more exceptional & open minded ones (no we aren’t in bed together physically or metaphorically) seeking to collaborate with artists and tell stories a little differently from the norm (and if you blink at the wrong spot you can miss the point). As a working artist who has performed in the US and parts of the UK & Europe, this show has the potential to go gangbusters when it tours overseas and I get the feeling, from a perhaps more global perspective, your review falls a little short of its depth and integrity.
I hope you’ll enter into this discussion and allow this post to go live un-edited, as I believe I have missed the point of your intention of your review and how it serves the piece and the artists involved. I’d love to know this from you.
I also think it’d be a fabulous idea to come back and watch it again a second time through fresh eyes and see what you take away from it...actually bring your partner! Surely there is a way you can make this review a little sharper to what it actually is offering audience members...
Thanks for your reply. Great to have such an interrogative and extensive response.
In reply to your question. I grew up in an environment that was fairly austere in terms of treats. So when I had the opportunity to eat a chocolate cookie I ate it all. Biscuit and chocolate. If my own ‘greed’ allowed me, I was also willing to share both the chocolate and the biscuit with my similarly deprived siblings and friends. If TRAPTURE is a chocolate cookie, I wanted to eat it whole but wanted, as well, to share the possible pleasures with as many of my siblings and friends. I did believe that this particular cookie was a bit like one of the new fangled concoctions you can now buy, say, a chilli chocolate cookie, and felt it might be best to prepare the ‘eater’ , if they were not very adventurous in their eating habits , of the very different ingredients that they might expect, so that they could maximise their pleasure.
You guided us to the TIME OUT review and I really didn’t see how much different it and my own blog were in our appraisal or encouragement. Adam Moussa believes that this work, as I was intimating with my selective itemising of some of the elements of the production (there was, as I say, “so much more”), “A spectacle way out on the outskirts of theatre tradition” and that “it might divide audiences into great love or unbridled hatred….”. He seemed to find it a bit “in yer face”, relatively (I, also, think “unbridled hate”, not a likely reaction. “Hate”, perhaps, but not “unbridled”). I was simply attempting to encourage or coax the more conservative theatre goer to go and eat this “ chilli chocolate cookie” with as open an appetite as preparedness would allow them.
The sophistication of your insights into the sub-textual investigations of this piece are arresting. That I did not read so deeply, as you, has to do with the presence of “my self’ on the night I attended, and my ability to read what I did from the work, according to the experience itself and any other information that I had access to in assessing the performers and other collaborators about the work and its intentions. The publicity, including the interview with Shannon Murphy in TIME OUT, indicated that this was a ‘thrilling ‘ night in the theatre (it has won a prize for that). The subterranean sub-text was not made a selling point ( or alluded too) and I did not ,in the experience of the performance, have any reason to think or connect to the possibility of that kind of depth. Sensation was the main effect for me. That is the experience that I had. The work was a visceral stimulant to “thrill”.
If I did miss the clues in the performing and or direction, to any deeper concepts, I may have been, as you suggest it is one of Ms Murphy’s strong points, unfortunately, “blinking at the wrong spot and so missed the point”. The conscious raising, that the piece had for you, in that you recognised your own recent behaviour in the work, was, probably because of your present self in your life journey and you weren’t blinking in the relevant moments. Chekhov and Stanislavsky (let alone Freud etc.) suggests we see and hear what we need to see and hear to advance our own life objectives / needs. It rang a bell for you on a deeper level, at the time, because of your conscious or unconscious need. Perhaps? For me it did not. I had a slightly different experience of the work, than you, that is all.
My intention in my theatre going diary blog on TRAPTURE was to enthuse an audience to go to what I think is an unusual theatre presentation, which on my experiential terms, is relatively tame but fun, but prepare others for the ‘chilli chocolate cookie’, rather than just the chocolate cookie, something that is available on ‘the outskirts of theatre tradition’, but not often in the other more traditional spaces. I definitely wanted those that go, as a result of reading my blog, to be thrilled not offended, by preparing them as best as possible. Several of my friends who have gone to a performance, directly from my verbal encouragement, have had a great time, if not a deep time.
May Europe embrace TRAPTURE as thrilling work or intellectually otherwise. Good luck with the adventure and intentions to the artists, over there.
As to going to the work again, maybe we could go together. Certainly with the new insight of your experience of the work I would see it with different eyes. I would have a new edge to enjoy it by, or not.
I hope I haven’t laboured too much your cookie analogy. I had fun doing it. Again, thanks, and your artistic freedom, or is that our critical freedoms? More of it, with respect and enthusiasm, for the forms of it we are engaged in.
Love your response Kevin! Much gratitude for your dance of words with me on this one. I would have loved to have seen it with you again however I was otherwise occupied this past week. I do look forward to future run-in's with you where I may just reveal myself ;-)
Yours in anonominity!
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