Basement Theatre Fringe Salon #3

Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

07/03/2017 - 11/03/2017

Auckland Fringe 2017

Production Details

The Basement Theatre Fringe Salon #3 runs 6-10pm with an array of
mostly movement-based experimental works…

Our Studio is transformed into a Performance Salon – think Moulin Rouge at the beach – where works of all kinds will pop up around you as you lounge, drink, and explore. It’s like a big party and a place of discovery all in one – performances are tested and evolved as you wander, observe, and partake.

Something is always on, and music, projection, and activities fill in the gaps between performances.  Come and go as you please!

Billie Staple’s PIG is about consent, consent, consent, evoking your anger, igniting your hope and leaving you smiling in the dark at that darkest parts of our humanity.

In I AM WHO, Jasmine Donald performs a playful look into her mind, questioning through dance and video the conversations that go on between the mind and the body.

Johanna Cosgrove brings in her real actual aunt to sit on a deck chair and order you around in AUNTY, exploring differences in mentalities across generations.

In WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE LIGHT? Kate Bartlett and Tallulah Holly-Massey explore escapism by moving, talking, and placing their way across a room to reach fresh air.

NO/I/SE(LF) is an exploration of sound in space (with or without bodies) created by Thomas Press and Virginia Frankovich.

Plus LITTLE SISTER, a contemporary re-imagining of the Russian ballet Petrouchka. Alice Canton attempts to re-stage this classic piece with whatever resources at hand: every night, a different show. An intimate experiment brought to life through puppetry and patchy memories. Created by Alice Canton (ORANGUTAN; WHITE/OTHER). A work in progress throughout the four week Salon series.)

Theatre , Physical , Performance installation , Performance Art , Multi-discipline , Contemporary dance , Audio (podcast) ,

4 hours

Developmental array

Review by Leah Carrell 08th Mar 2017

Basement Theatre’s Performance Salon Week #3 offers an array of theatrical and dance performances, in different stages of development – some artists let us know, others we read about on the website (there are no programmes.) The structure of the Salon evening is that one may come and go throughout the night (while most arrive in the changeover of each piece, I decide to arrive in the middle of a piece) which poses an interesting inquiry about the autonomy of an audience member. I notice a bar, some people buy drinks in the middle of a piece. The atmosphere is relaxed, fairy-lit, with plants, an artificial grass pathway and round tables to sit at. The temperature is cold though.

There is a double stage, one in the centre of the room and one to the side, which offers a myriad of possibilities – including audience interaction, multi-frontal work and split focus staging. Mostly this is well utilised but some works could spend more time in the audience, or could circulate their bodies more on the centre stage to push the boundaries of this space.

It is hard to pull off a medley of performances, in terms of thematic overarches, but tonight’s performances sit well together because the physical and compositional set up of the Salon offers “a place of discovery all in one.” We are ready to see anything and there is no expectation of a thematic through-line. The encouragement to “come and go as you please” assists in shifting how we view each work.

Jasmine Donald’s movement solo explores the connection between mind and body. Her video-projected hands talk and appear to puppet her body around the space. It is a tennis game conversation with herself and she asks “who is you” and replies “we.” There is distorted movement which mimics the distorted sentence structures of her dialogue with the audience. The soundscape of everyday noises mix with her danced phrases to offer an exploration of controlled uncontrollable moments. With a maximum use of the stage, this piece is not frontal and Donald connects with all audience members, inviting us in to her wild conversation.

Aunty promises “one real life Aunty” and she arrives with a loud entrance, towelled up with her signature kid sunnies, wine in hand. The pretext is that we are her “whanau-wanau” gathered because “god, I love you all.” There are some classic one-liners, a few cringe reactions, and plenty of laughable moments as the audiences recognises their own Aunty on stage.  Johanna Cosgrove is a non-stop monologue of thoughts, insults, memories, compliments, complaints and wine-sculling. There are some audience interactions which are shut down before potential conversation starts but some great instances when Tayler and Guy have an arm wrestle, Sonny gives Aunty a bottle of Rose, and the entire family (audience) get up on stage for a selfie. Aunty is a character we all “know/love/hate” and Cosgrove could take her anywhere for future development.

Dancing in Small Spaces is a video work by Olivia Tennet that plays between some pieces – it’s cheerful, a fun interlude during which people buy drinks. We see Tennet dancing at a bus stop, in the bath and on her bed – reminding me of movie moments we wish would happen in real life. Other times we are privy to the artists setting up their space – we see Kate Bartlett and Tallulah Holly-Massey lay cords, plug in mics, and place plastic on the second stage.

Bartlett and Holly-Massey disclaim that this is a work in development. The choreographic ideas explored throughout surround a poem about each other as a building or house. The poetry of movement is a metaphor of memories and we see the bodies move around the space (framing the door, turning on the tap, opening the curtain to the outside light) as well as see their experience of moving through rooms of the mind. Different textures of space, clothing and props evoke feelings of being comfortable, being disrupted, being disappointed. They use a loop pedal to make a lullaby. The setup of each scene is methodical and non-precious; we are watching ideas take form as an exploration or a test. Both performers are settled in their movement, offering themselves as movers rather than as performers -a genuine approach to exploring ideas. There is much potential here for a full-length development.

The final performance is Alice Canton’s Little Sister which is being performed in Basement Salons #1, #2, and #3 (fifteen performances!) She opens with a history of the performance period and explains that each night has been different, developed, explored. This is a brave undertaking to develop a work as the performance. Canton is open in her explorations and admitted failures and it is endearing to hear this. Tonight’s performance is an explanation of her childhood love of the ballet Petrouchka, an audience-participation in the puppet enactment of the story, a danced homage to Douglas Wright, and a reflection on creating performance. While the work may be missing some theatrical pauses (for us to process what Canton is offering) it is a very rare opportunity to see the inner working of an artist’s mind in the middle of their research of making a performance. It is a brave and vulnerable task to stand in front of people and say ‘this is how I create.’ Potential judgement of the work shifts from how we value ‘good’ theatre to how we can be entertained or stimulated by modes of thinking and the experience of making theatre. Other artists could be encouraged by this unveiling of the hidden creation process to strip away the burden of product-based performance outcomes.

The Basement Salon #3 offers a space for artists to challenge ways of presenting performance and the opportunity for alternative methods of presenting works in development. The audience experiences a different approach to viewing work which is both refreshing and engaging. 


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