BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

10/09/2015 - 12/09/2015

Production Details

Kate McIntosh grew up in Wellington and trained as a dancer, but left New Zealand 20 years ago to carve out a career in the arts. She currently lives in Brussels, Belgium, where she directs and performs innovative theatre works that are celebrated and toured around Europe and beyond. Now, for the first time she is bringing her work to her childhood home on the other side of the world, to present it to a local audience.

For All Ears McIntosh sets up the stage as an improvised ad-hoc laboratory for a series of unusual recordings and acoustic experiments, using everyday objects and materials. Chairs are dragged, paper is torn, glasses are toppled. Sounds are gathered, recorded and played back – the action of one part of the performance providing soundtrack, background or atmosphere for another. Along the way McIntosh – as combination curious scientist, mischievous questioner and eclectic storyteller – leads us on a distinctive journey through a diverse landscape of ideas.

All Ears is brought to Wellington’s BATS Theatre as a joint venture between Barbarian Productions and Kate’s artist-run support and research platform SPIN in Brussels. We’re excited to be able to provide Wellington audiences with an opportunity to see this world-class work, and even more excited that Kate will lead a workshop as part of our Spring Uprising mini-festival.  The workshop will use the experience of seeing All Ears as a starting-point for discussion so if you want to be a part of this exciting experience better book your tickets now!

ALL EARS directed by Kate McIntosh
Produced in association with SPIN
VENUE: BATS theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
DATES: 10 – 12 September 2015

Theatre , Multi-discipline , Improv ,

Fascinating on a number of levels

Review by John Smythe 11th Sep 2015

What do we want from theatre? Can anything be said to be sought from all audience experiences? To be engaged – that’s fundamental. To feel invited, included, welcome. To have a collective experience while feeling free to respond, publicly or privately, at an individual, private level. To conclude our trusting investment in attending the show has been worth it.

The means by which any or all of this is achieved can vary widely, of course. We may feel a level of comfort when familiar tropes of theatrical practice are used. And there is a special excitement – and fear, perhaps; resistance too – in finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory and/or in having our expectations and automatic evaluations subverted.  

The first thing to say about Kate McIntosh’s All Ears – billed as “as an improvised ad-hoc laboratory for a series of unusual recordings and acoustic experiments – is that it fulfils all the conditions suggested above, often in very subtle ways. And to go into too much detail about it would spoil the experience, so … trust me. Unless you only like predictably packaged, highly processed theatre, treat yourself to this, if you’re in Wellington tonight or tomorrow. Book now, read the rest later.

Mind you, if you click on the title above – or here – the publicity material will give you more information so it’s not a big secret, and it’s fair to say the expectations the promo sets up could add to the discombobulation you might feel on the night which may or may not be a plus.

What greets us on entering Bats’ Propeller Stage space is instantly intriguing and very promising. Stuff is clearly going to happen! And then it doesn’t … until it does. Meanwhile … what transpires is certainly an interesting and mutually bonding process during which I doubt I’m the only one wondering when the show is actually going to start. Which of course it has.

McIntosh is the opposite of the high energy, exuberant solo performer/ presenter/ facilitator. It’s all about us. We are all ears – and what’s between them is fully engaged, provoking memories, thoughts, feelings … And lots of laughter. Yet there’s not a joke or physical gag in sight. Then there’s the climax – one helluva climax. And its aftermath …

One small thing: the promo material says, “Sounds are gathered, recorded and played back.” Afterwards my neighbour and I find ourselves doubting that tonight’s actual sounds have been played back because key elements, fresh in our minds, are missing. This is slightly disappointing.

Nevertheless to realise how utterly convincing the sound of something can be when we know it’s not – because we were part of its creation (or a recreation of it) – is, like the whole event, fascinating on a number of levels.

That it felt like an hour and was actually two also says something very good about All Ears.


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