FABRICATE (2017)

Thistle Hall, Cnr Cuba & Arthur Streets, Wellington

02/03/2017 - 03/03/2017

Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

09/03/2017 - 13/03/2017

NZ Fringe Festival 2017 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Dunedin Fringe 2017

Production Details


Choreographed and danced by Caitlin Davey, Lydia Connolly-Hiatt, Cushla Roughan, Rodney Tyrell and Reece Adams
Sound created by Casper Connolly-Hiatt


It Starts From Nothing…  

Madness, obsession, the effort to communicate, all set within an endless power struggle as we continuously create and destroy our world.

Fabricate physically explores the tactile environment through movement. The space is designed with objects, light and through the bodies and movements of the dancers. A string web is created and later destroyed, a table enters and all is intersected with clean crisp movement.

A fascination with shared experiences between audience, performer and space is explored. An aesthetic world is created and provides the opportunity to shift how the viewer sees the work with a taster of audience interaction.

Fabricate plays with the audience’s expectations through its changing and unexpected structure, leaving them on the edge of their seat and wanting more.

“…lit and designed evocatively, and with a soundtrack that like the lighting, sits strongly within the walls of the constructed space providing a nest-like platform for their very well conceptualised display.” The Daily Blog (2016)

Fabricate started working together at Unitec in the performing and Screen arts program which was completed by all five dancers/choreographers (Caitlin Davey, Lydia Connolly-Hiatt, Cushla Roughan, Rodney Tyrell and Reece Adams) as well as by the producer (Sarah-Louise Collins). The collective members are all equal in their collaboration and each person brings something different and valuable to the work.

Casper Connolly-Hiatt created the sound score specifically for the work. The music is intriguing in its complex yet simplistic sound and adds an alluring element to the intimate work.

“…each dancer had moments when they combusted on through to a new dimension in evoking story from dance, owning the space, little wonderful moments when I leaned forward as though I’d seen a shooting star at a fireworks display.” The Daily Blog, (2016)

Fabricate plays 
Thistle Hall
2nd-3rd March 2017 
6.30pm and 8pm
Tickets:$20 
Bookings: NZ Fringe website and box office 


Dancers: Caitlin Davey, Lydia Connolly-Hiatt, Cushla Roughan, Rodney Tyrell, and Reece Adams


Sound: Caspar Connolly
Lighting and Spatial Design: Marshall Bull 
Producer: Sarah-Louise Collins


Dance , Contemporary dance ,


45 minutes

A tight and entangling work

Review by Hannah Molloy 12th Mar 2017

The tautness of white thread used to weave a web is a good metaphor for Fabricate by the Fabricate Collective, a tight and entangling work from start to finish. The web is woven with care and patience, with each of the five dancers, Caitlin Davey, Lydia Connolly-Hiatt, Cushla Roughan, Reece Adams and Terry Morrison, taking their place in its creation, without crowding or intersecting each other. As the web grows more complex and binding, they test its tautness and space, like spiders checking for a catch. The end result of such a simple construct is startlingly beautiful against the white walls and wooden floor.

The transition from weaving to dance is subtle and almost goes unnoticed, as each dancer takes their place on the stage proper, moving somehow like mannequins – or marionettes on their strings. They move around the small space seamlessly and share the space without losing any of their individual presence. The amount of thread Connnolly-Hiatt manages to hold in her mouth for this first part is truly remarkable!

Reece Adams’ solo piece is incredibly beautiful, warrior-like without being militant, threading a horizontal, more open web across the space, making use of audience members to hold points, and moving in and out of the spaces created. He is a joy to watch.

Audience involvement can be risky and I think about this as Adams, Morrison and Davey begin their battle of wills from the back row of the audience. It is a few moments before people turn to watch them – I was pleased we had disregarded the usher’s instructions to fill the front rows first and were sitting near the back (not least because we could see better!) – and I think this uncertainty about viewing etiquette means they perhaps missed out on a little of the humour of this part – the brave see the details. The three dancers tussle and wind their way back to the stage, surprising several people (including my 12 year old guest) by sitting down next to them and laughing with them. It’s such a pleasure to be invited into the joy of performance.

The final piece, with the destruction of the web and its subsequent consumption, is filled with menace and a sense of foreboding for the future, but still underlaid with humour; perhaps it’s not going to be all bad…

The music, by Casper Connolly, is simply fantastic and the lighting design by Marshall Bull clever, adding to the overall crispness and thoughtfulness of the choreography. The sparseness of the staging, with only balls of thread and a table as props, gives these very talented dancers room to show their skill and I look forward to seeing more work from this collective.

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Testing grounds

Review by Chris Jannides 05th Mar 2017

Fabricate is a contemporary dance piece with five people listed as its co-creators. Four of them are in the performance – Caitlin Davey, Lydia Connolly-Hiatt, Cushla Roughan and Reece Adams. The fifth, who is not part of this cast – Rodney Tyrell – is acknowledged as a previous choreographer. And there is a guest dancer – Terry Morrison – who is not credited as one of the makers and who may perhaps be Rodney’s replacement. 

The programme notes say that Fabricate is about ‘Madness, obsession, the effort to communicate, all set within this endless power struggle as we continuously create and destroy our world’. 

I get a bit confused by programme notes sometimes, especially some of the ones written by dancers about their work and its aspirations. The promise in the statement above creates a pretty full-on expectation. I’m not worried that what I end up seeing is more in the realm of mannequins who posture and twitch to show madness rather than something volcanic in its world-destroying capacities. This performance is more gentle and abstract. There’s lots of carefully performed conventional contemporary dance movement. The destructive element is quite tame. So, considering that the outcome doesn’t quite line up with the claim, it makes me wonder if these choreographers are shooting beyond their capacities? There’s a sense that either they think they’ve fully made what they’re stating they’ve made, or that the big theme in the programme note is being used to give the work depth, in case we miss it. 

‘Depth’! What an albatross that word is around the neck of contemporary dance! There’s nothing wrong with it of course, but what makes it? Not a programme note. It has to be in the work itself. What do I witness and experience in Fabricate?

Balls of white wool are unravelled by five dancers. A large cobweb is made in a corner of the performing area. Some of it was already on the staircase leading into the hall. Seated audience members become anchor points as the cobweb is extended across the length of the whole dancing space, cordoned off by footlights. The cobweb is visually appealing. It does an aesthetically minimalist job of pleasingly transforming the environment. The criss-crossing threads remind me of hand-string games that children play. This is a hand-string dance on a bigger scale with dancers’ bodies replacing fingers.

We can see acting motifs that function as dance-mime markers – hands over mouths (communication theme), hunched lifted shoulders (submissive theme), jerky doll-like movements and slightly manic facial expressions (madness theme), posturing and posing positions (power theme), one person looking intently at another (internal questioning theme), jerky mechanical arm patterns (don’t know what theme that is but it looks good, particularly in unison). 

There is also a lot of literal stuff with the woollen strands. The cobwebbing I’ve mentioned. Then there’s pulling it from the mouth as an endless bit of string, or the act of gently leaning and trampolining against its elasticity, getting entangled in it, turning it into an offering that is laid at the feet of another, a mother cradling it in her arms while others slowly suck up the ends like they’re at a spaghetti eat-a-thon. This image is the finale of the piece as the lights fade, so it’s choreographically positioned for importance and significance.

The use of literal images and actions like those above, pepper the work like little landmarks between sections of abstract contemporary dance. The literal stuff gives the work its artistic individuality. It is also the way that audiences are provided with ‘meaning’ so that they can say ‘Oh, I know what this dance is about, kind of… !’ From piecing together the dance-mime gestures (hands over mouths, lifted shoulders, posing, etc., etc.) and the symbolic actions with the use of the wool (webbing, connecting people together, mother cradling child, spaghetti eat-a-thon, etc.) we are able to go ‘Ahhh, fabricate… uh huh…’

The only place I sort of lost the plot was when the cobwebs suddenly disappeared and a table emerged on which two dancers, lying prone, were lengthily examined with pencil lights. It makes me think that contemporary dancers are very preoccupied with self-examining their art form. 

If the literal stuff is clearer in terms of themes or references, the chunks of pure contemporary dance are not so clear in this regard. Yes, I picked up the idea of rebound from some of the partnering work, but generally speaking, the vocabulary is classroom material. It is the vocabulary learnt in technique classes from institutional training. This language is so commonly used as to practically mean nothing. It showcases high levels of skill and ability, which all these dancers have, but does not contribute to artistic distinction or originality. It is left to the literal stuff to do that. 

All in all, a fabric of gestures, mime, acting and objects is used to hold together chunks of pure contemporary dance in the form of solos, duets, trios, ensemble, unison, canon. And then all of this sits under a sound canopy of contemporary electronic music, composed by Casper Connelly, that is heavily beat-laden, whose presence at best complements the action, atmospherically, but at times swamps and overwhelms it. 

Fringe festivals are the testing grounds for choreographers-in-training. We need them. They’re the safety net for new growth. We need new growth and we’re thankful for dancers like this who are supplying it.

However, if the makers of Fabricate want to take bold, clear steps towards untangling themselves from the conventions of institutional training, and cutting themselves free from the umbilical cord of educational safety and sameness, then the question here is about making borrowed patterns of dance more distinctive and original. Better programme notes are good too.

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