EDWA 2020: Amber Liberte and Fa'asu Afoa-Purcell

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

02/12/2020 - 02/12/2020

Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa 2020

Production Details


APOCALYPTIC POLITIC // WE FLOAT surrenders to space-time nothingness. The earth is burning, and the elite neo-libs have escaped in Musk’s final creation: THE MUSK-F@#XE_12-3-MOS – a space shuttle for the 1% who’ve managed to escape earth. Gravity and celebratory mimosa’s no longer exist as they did under Einstein’s E = mc2. And Musk’s elite family must surrender to the bizarre unknown. This work imagines a world – in the not far distant future – where the rich guys head towards Mars as Earth decays. With an anti-gravity aesthetic, it poses the questions: what can we do to avoid the projected future? Taking inspiration from space-movies, political-speak, and dystopian fiction, this dance-theatre work see’s suspended objects; glasses, chairs, and floating space-junk as the world erodes.


Fa’asu Afoa-Purcell, ‘Let them eat cake’

Fragments of the work will be structured around responding to singular theories, with the work as a whole examining the contradictory and ever-evolving idea of the ‘self’. ‘Self’ is of particular interest to me as someone who does not identify with the rigid constructs surrounding notions of gender within binary contexts. Intersecting notions of memory, identity and personhood will be explored. Within the work I question how my own cultural and social conditioning has informed my opinion on what identity consists of.

Herald Theatre, 7pm

Performance installation , Multi-discipline , Experimental dance , Dance , Contemporary dance ,

1 hour

A thought arises....

Review by Rewa Fowles 03rd Dec 2020

By Amber Liberté

Audience members who are willing to participate are given yellow stickers, Walking down the stairs we as the audience are given a piece of paper each with instructions, in bold words, the audience is given a choice of commands; FACADE, POWER, ASCENSION, and VOID.

It is dark, purple light bounces off the sheets of clear plastic hanging from the ceiling, an illustration of what appears to be a cobra, an eyeball, and white droplets. My gaze is drawn to how the swaying movement of the plastic sheets creates an illusion of these illustrations moving towards and away from us, the audience are now sitting and standing, chatting amongst themselves as we wait.

Then I find Amber Liberté camouflaged amongst the high rise seats, eyes closed, legs wide open, a blue hue across the face, black line down the neck. Sitting in utter stillness, like a statue blending into the environment.

A moment of complete darkness rises and the audience settles ready to watch what’s to happen next. A light comes on again and so does the light of Amber’s eyes beam, a cyborg. Amber Liberté as the robotic alien isolates the body specifically the hands and fingers directing the body out of the seats now coming towards us.

Only the floating plastic sheets are what divides us between the homo sapien audience and the robotic alien. Moments of strong eye contact is created, I am intrigued, wondering if this cyborg is about to offer or guide us through a futuristic dystopia?

I go back to the instructions to find clues, this robotic alien being, Xae A-xii, is our host. Amber Liberté as Xae A-xii speaks with such control in the voice, just as robotic as I imagined. “Would you like to go to the stars?” Xae A-xii asks the audience then explains to us THE GAME of commands, the audience in excitement replies “YES”.

The first command is given “VOID” Xae A-xii seems to have disappeared until suddenly I see tinfoil rustling floating amongst the seats. I wonder has Xae A-xii transformed into a lifeless object?

Xae A-xii movement becomes more fluid just as much as the tinfoil crinkling and shining as minimalist light bounces off its surface. Then 3 2 1 POWER to ESSENTION we find with each command, direction and colour of light changes, and tinfoil Xae A-xii transforms. Limbs reach upwards and outwards navigating the limited space between chairs and stairs.

It all becomes comical as the audience becomes more confident in this power of command, as Xae A-xii has moments of rushing to the next point to follow these homo sapien tasks. We possibly laugh in relatability as Xae A-xii shows few moments of being human especially when Xae A-xii’s middle finger is shot straight up to the air almost as a “fuck you for making me do this again.”

Mixed emotions are in the audience, some laughing, some feeling sorry for Xae A-xii, as ESSENTION is instructed almost 3 times in a row. Xae A-xii constantly reaches legs out traveling up and down the stairs balancing the tinfoil.

There are moments of playful disagreement on commands from the audience. Thoughts come to mind of how hard it is for humans to make a collective decision for each other and for this planet we live on called earth. Trying to respect different ideas, sooo many of us humans. So many voices need to be heard while the earth waits. Even though the earth is no longer at a point where it can wait. 

RED – earth is on fire

Xae A-xii voice changes becoming more human, movement becomes even more fluid leaning and wrapping the body against the railing at the top of the stairs as we all look up to hear 

“What would happen if earth no longer existed and we have to go to mars”

“7 years left”

…20th of November Astronauts will be sent up to space…

As fascinating as space and the stars is, earth is still waiting and the APOCALYPSE is gradually becoming among us. Do we surrender to climate change, whatever happens, happens. The rich fly towards the stars and mars while the rest of us stay on earth. Or we protest and command the earth’s right to breathe and heal, not to be left for mars.

‘Let them eat cake’  by Fa’asu Afoa-Purcell

We as the audience are instructed and guided up the stairs towards the seats, our vision changes as the stage is set with two tables. One table with stacks of white boxes and a chocolate cake, the other has multiple objects filled with party tricks and baking ingredients. The space is transitioning.

Xae A-xii introduces a simulation of homo sapien beings now being dragged on stage. Once these three beings are placed, another poses eyes piercing through the audience with poise and confidence. Disco funk music plays, greens blues and yellow light gradually flicker. Clothing flailing off the hands ready to find a body.

Once a being is clothed it’s as though they have formed the first part of a journey to human identity, ever EVOLVING. The three beings isolate movement, eyes almost never blinking, making direct contact with the audience. I’m excited to see such conviction and strong internal energy ripple in them, even now as they move like mannequins put on a moving display.

The beings swiftly transition to the table of multiple objects, a rainbow of bubbles form, I find a simple joy of lights bouncing off the bubbles, then sparkly confetti. One by one, with blank poker faces introducing a party trick. The space becomes a world of colour and shapes forever changing.

Ingredients are being transferred, rushing from one table to the next.
Cocoa powder
Delicately slide out the mouth. The audience has mixed reactions squirming in their chairs, some uncomfortable, some laughing.

I smile to see the energy erupt in commitment to collaborate and create, as each being adds an ingredient to the same bowl. Texture of eggs seeping into the bowl while flour and cocoa powder disperses in and out of the bowl and up in the air.

A thought arises: I think of how each of us homo sapiens are made of more than just our parents and the conditioning of societies we become a part of, but like a cake we all have our own ingredients that make us unique individuals. Not just our physique, but in our minds and spirit that makes us who we are.

The music plays faster and faster until it changes and Xae A-xii appears again to mix the ingredients then leaves. The next stage of an evolving human identity?

Random objects are added to the space, the audience is invited to throw their belongings too. The three beings move in sync with precise rolling of the neck and hand gestures. Moments of yelling “FUCK” an “AUW WHAT” Navigating through their forever changing space a vivid balance of chaos.

With great organic timing, an audience member throws a shoe, the sudden thud of the shoe on stage creates beautiful laughter. As we find ourselves interacting and playing. 

Bubbles and other party tricks start coming from the audience, the simulated homo sapien beings have moments of suddenly sitting down cross legged “IT WAS ME” poker faces disappearing into smiles of laughter. The beings appear more and more human. We the audience see and hear them become alive, breathless exerting repetitive canons of movement. 

Xae A-xii instructs these transforming beings to create their own dead homo sapien. They rush and run around the space picking up all these objects and belongings to form their own individuals.

I’m on the edge of my seat as I hear the countdown from 1 minute, 30 seconds, then 10 seconds!

3 different monologues by the 3 live simulated homo sapiens begins. Each monologue constantly gets interrupted as they run up to grab the mic off each other to have a turn to share different stories about their dead being they just assembled. Moments of individual erratic sharp fast movements are thrown into the mix, calling out “BUILDING” physically evolving their dead creations to be a part of the wider space again.

A moment of silence as all 3 lay on the ground breath into the floor then RISE “FUCK!” “IT WAS ME” chaotic environment ensues again the beings interacting with eachother and their object filled space.

The cake table is moved toward the middle of the stage, the simulated homo sapiens slow down their movement gradually going towards the cake. More light enters the stage. “Happy Birthday to you… Happy birthday to you…” singing to their beings they hadcreated and just disassembled. Putting their fingers in the cake, eating it. The beings now are full humans as they smile and the audience laughs, cheers, and applaud everyone apart of LET THEM EAT CAKE. 

The white boxes open and vegan cake is offered to the audience.
I find myself thinking how the world can create and form us,
Making cake.
But the world can also break us down,
Eating cake.
As we assemble and grow we can find who we are as individuals, mind and spirit,
becoming our own cake.
Then evolve on our own terms,
Eating cake


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