BATS Theatre, Wellington

23/02/2007 - 26/02/2007

NZ Fringe Festival 2007

Production Details

The Loopen Experiment

fleet / fli:t / 1. n. a number of ships operating together under a single directive. 2. swift, nimble 3. v. archaic adj. be transitory, glide away, vanish…

Christchurch theatre company The Loopen Experiment presents the world premiere of Fleet, a breathtaking new piece of physical theatre, in the late night slot at BATS as part of Fringe 07.

The Fringe debut of Fleet is the first stop on a tour that will include a comprehensive circuit of the South Island. Following this, Loopen will take Fleet to South America with the dual purpose of performing and learning new approaches to theatre.

Fleet, a fresh and sprightly piece of work, transcends spoken word and theatrical norms to bring Wellington audiences a visual treat, a mythical journey created almost entirely by the bodies, energy and imagination of this dynamic young company. The show will appeal to lovers of dance and theatre alike. Founding member Lisa Norriss describes the piece as “…passionate and inspiring, an adventure that takes us beyond the everyday.”

The Loopen Experiment, a tight company of six members from various backgrounds has established a strong reputation since its conception two years ago, despite working part-time. Now, working full-time in 2007, the group is intent on making an impact with its brand of original and physical new works.

The group has looked locally for its inspiration. “Here at the end of the world, New Zealand is a land of people that have been on journeys,” says Daniel Allan, a group member who has worked as a professional improvisor with The Court Jesters for the last four years. “We wanted to create a story about journeying, built on the classic structure of a myth, but drawing from our kiwi experiences.”

The Loopen Experiment will be in town from the 19th of February, look out for their Random Acts of Theatre on the streets of Wellington.


Daniel Allan
Peter Foley
Kulai Nakaroti
Lisa Norriss
Marcela Restrepo

Magali Burta
Damien McGrath
Edward Sem'man

Theatre ,

50 mins

Synergy and cohesion

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 06th Mar 2007

Another show that must also come back for a repeat season is the Christchurch-based Loopen Experiment’s production Fleet, one of the most creative and innovative shows seen in Wellington for a long time. 

Exquisitely costumed and choreographed, this production embodies every aspect of performance as well as an amazing array of vocalised sound effects by the cast who also use a minimum of props most ingeniously.  So enraptured does one become with the magic of what is happening on stage that the fact that it’s not overly clear what the actual show is about is for once of little consequence.

In essence it is a journey of a young lad leaving home and encountering many adversities, real and imagined, all created by the other four actors.  Through the use of voice and physical movement they create an amazing array of people and animals as well as physical barriers like mountains and canyons that the young lad has to get through. 

The synergy and cohesiveness of the five performers’ combined with their professionalism makes for a most memorable show indeed.  


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Theatre as church

Review by John Smythe 24th Feb 2007

Clad in hooded garb with mystical insignia on their tunics, the ensemble of five enter in processional mode, intoning what sounds like a Hebrew chant as they carry a white sheet between them. The lift it, it billows, floats, falls and crumples. They dance …

This is The Loopen Experiment from Christchurch, using ancient-cum-New Age physical theatre forms to explore, express and mythologize fleeting experiences of travel, migration and culture-clash.

Their physicality, as movers, dancers and body sculptors, is fluid, precise and fully committed. Their vocal toning too, is beautifully executed with, I’m told, Spanish and Swahili joining the Hebrew to provide the vocalised soundscape. A small drum, buckets of water, a metal bowl and wooden pestle are also ingeniously employed to generate the sonic atmosphere …

While a sense of tribal groupings, of humans and monkeys, and a lone traveller encountering them – being encountered by them – is something of a constant, I discern no structured narrative. Even so, the sense of intuitive recognition that most of the sequences provoke is enough to engage my interest and intrigued admiration.

Yes, there’s a ‘but’. Here’s how The Loopen Experiment promotes Fleet on their website (which also details their forthcoming South Island tour):

Enter a world where movement speaks
Where sound lives
Where imagination sparks
Follow Fleet as it weaves its way across the realm of experience
Let your dreams surface
And explore… the world of myth.

Given the cultural influences they draw on (which incidentally do not include anything distinctively related to these isles), what is strangely lacking in their otherwise impeccable work is humour. They take themselves very seriously, as if emphasising the ‘church’ in their hometown roots. Perhaps, as it tours, they will lighten up and the latent humour that’s doubtless trapped in there will be released. Or do they expect their audiences to approach with solemnity and reverence?

PS: The Loopen Experiment promises to commit random acts of theatre in Wellington streets while they are here. If anyone witness one, please tell us about it – either as a Comment attached to this review or as a Forum posting.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Audience Chatter), and news.


Daniel Allan, The Loopen Experiment March 3rd, 2007

Thanks for the review John. Lovely to come to a city where they actually have reviewers for smaller shows! For the record, while our random acts of theatre were limited by our need to market and rehearse our show, as well as enjoy the sights of your fair city, we did manage to startle and interest passers-by on two occassions, at Victoria University and the Civic Square. Thanks for having us Wellington, it was a blast.

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