Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Natural Conservatorium for Wise Women

Clockfire Theatre presents, THE NATURAL CONSERVATORIUM FOR WISE WOMEN, at the Old 505 Theatre, Eliza St Newtown. 3rd October - 21st October.

THE NATURAL CONSERVATORIUM FOR WISE WOMEN, is a newly devised work by Clockfire Theatre, under the Direction of Emily Ayoub, with a set of collaborative artists that have created a remarkable experience.

The subject is the story of the Patriarchy at war with the other elements of his world. Whilst sitting in the defended achievements of his home space he receives letters of provocation from the Yours in truth, La Femme du Jardin. Preparing for invasion the patriarch is surprised when, instead, the women make an exodus from his influence. He has nothing to fight and is left only with the bitter/sweet fruit of his enterprise - a lemon and its tree and ultimately left begging for entrance to the world of the wise women.

What is arresting in this performance is to be immersed into a form of symbol - metaphor - where the use of deliberate abstraction is the means used to tell of the concerns of this collective. It is a welcome technique in contrast to the norm of communication in our theatre. It is, particularly welcome because of the quality of the skills and the passionate commitment to the mode of storytelling by this Clockfire Theatre collective. The confidence of all the artists sweeps all hesitation or initial bewilderment from the audience, away.

Its first conceit is to have it spoken in both French (with sub-titles) and a highly poetic English (inspired by the letters of Emily Dickinson). The next is a physical movement language that is stylised from the subtle to the broad, performed by the individual and as a company collective. (Three of the devisors/performers are graduates of the Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris.) The next is a Design Collaboration of striking image led by Amanda McNamara - a surreal comic book - charmingly disconcerting,which is sympathetically lit by Ryan Devlin. The Composition and intrusively powerful Sound Design from Ben Pierpoint has dramatic impact and is a container for supporting the sophisticated craft/art form of this company's 'tools' of communication.

Tony Weir, is central to the success of the work as the representative Patriarch, and has a range of skills from the delicacy of minute physical skill of a high order to an expressive vocal instrument that demarcates the arc of the journey drawn by this company with tremendous skill and attractiveness - it has a human fragility - pathos - in his gestures of change and challenge. Catherine Parle, as the spokeswoman for the Femme du Jardin has a tremendous control of voice and physical life, supported, in contrast, by the silent but vibrating stillness of Laura Turner in several incarnations of character. The comedy of Alicia Gonzalez is adept and the presence of Sam Newing-Stern completes the jigsaw of the methods of seduction evoked by Ms Ayoub. The production is highly sophisticated loaded with intrepid integrity.

I had the night before watched the new film BLADE RUNNER 2049 and have been in a state of a dreamscape hangover since. The bleed from that immersive cinematic imagery to the strivings and solutions of Clockfire Theatre in this much more modest visual (and verbal) challenge was full of supportive echoes. Not least the thematics of the conscious rise of the Wonder Woman, or the 'Miracle'-woman of Blade Runner 2049, - who incidentally is first seen in a simulated garden investigating botany - to that of the Wise Women of this production.

I recommend THE NATURAL CONSERVATORIUM FOR WISE WOMEN, as an exciting and different mode of experience of storytelling in Sydney. Go, surrender, and be bewildered with a kind of wonder, and enthused with a sense of a future of change - hopefully of wisdom, equality.

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