Suter Theatre, Nelson

18/04/2011 - 19/04/2011

Opera House, Wellington

01/03/2011 - 02/03/2011

Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington

20/04/2012 - 22/04/2012

Q Theatre, 305 Queen St, Auckland

05/10/2011 - 05/10/2011

Allen Hall Theatre, University of Otago, Dunedin

17/03/2011 - 18/03/2011

Tempo Dance Festival 2011

Dunedin Fringe 2011

Production Details

What’s all this Hullapolloi about?

Hullapolloi is a disturbing and darkly humorous stab at the political dynamics of a group; a test of what is known, what is successful and what is normal through the eyes of competitive urges and comforting rituals.

And it is also the name of a captivating new work created by two of New Zealand’s most sought-after performing artists Jo Randerson and Kate McIntosh in an exciting new collaboration with Footnote Dance.

Footnote Dance’s 2011 season of Footnote Forte, Hullapolloi,will be toured to Wellington, Dunedin and Nelson and later this year to Auckland.

The programme furthers the Footnote mission to keep redefining the boundaries of dance in New Zealand, this time by adding the dramatic flourishes by one of this country’s most acclaimed playwrights in Jo Randerson, and the intriguing physicality of Kate McIntosh.

Both originally from Wellington, Randerson and McIntosh have enjoyed several previous collaborations together on the international scene, including 2004’s All Natural, which toured extensively in Europe, in 2006’s Hair from the Throat, which premiered at the prestigious Kaaitheatre in Brussels. 

Jo Randerson has developed a sparkling reputation in New Zealand as one of our most unique and prolific theatre practitioners, winning the 1997 Bruce Mason Award for her first play Fold and the 2008 Arts Foundation New Generation Award.

Kate McIntosh has forged a remarkable career in her adopted hometown of Brussels, working across the genres of dance, filmmaking, multimedia and even punk rock. She is, according to Footnote Dance director Deirdre Tarrant, now one of Europe’s most sought after physical-theatre practitioners in Europe. “Her early days and first secondment were with Footnote in 1992 and so this is a real homecoming!” said Deirdre.

“Together, Jo and Kate have produced a very strong and unexpected collaborative work. There’s a strong element of surprise and confrontation.

Hullapolloi explores these pertinent issues of consumerism and materialism and aims to put the human back into humanity.

“Certainly the product of their outrageous minds has been a challenge for the dancers to get their heads around. It promises to be captivating, groundbreaking and simply unmissable.”

Footnote Forte 2011: Hullapolloi

Wellington: March 1, 2, 8pm @ The Opera House
Dunedin: March 17, 18 @ Allen Hall
Nelson: April 18, 19 @ The Suter Gallery

Ticketing and information:   

HULLAPOLLOI Returns to Wellington 2012

Jo Randerson’s celebrated collaboration with Kate McIntosh and Footnote plays a return season in Wellington for FOUR SHOWS only at Te Whaea Theatre, 20-22 April.

Step inside the eerily beautiful and disturbing world of Hullapolloi and witness the constantly shifting shapes and identities of its mysterious inhabitants. The power struggle and political dynamics of these amorphous beings tests the limits of behavioural norms and social boundaries.

This season is presented as Jo’s major production for her second year Master of Theatre Arts (Directing) at Toi Whakaari, The New Zealand Drama School.

Tickets $20 each

8pm Fri 20th – Sunday 22nd
Matinee 2pm Sunday 22nd

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Director: Deirdre Tarrant 
Dancers: Francis Christeller, Lucy Marinkovich, Emily Adams, Olivia McGregor, Manu Reynaud, Danielle Lindsay 
Collaborators: Jo Randerson and Kate McIntosh 
Lighting: Piet Asplet 
Sound: Co produced by Thom McIntosh  

2012 season

DANCERS: Lucy Marinkovich, Emily Adams, Manu Reynaud, Olivia McGregor, Levi Cameron (Alice Macann)


Enjoyably engaging and thought provoking

Review by Helen Sims 21st Apr 2012

Hullapolloi, a collaboration between Jo Randerson and Kate McIntosh, commissioned by Footnote Dance, returns to Toi Whakaari this weekend for a short season before touring overseas.  If you can get along to it, you should – this is a rare high quality, genre-busting work that is both experimental and entertaining.

Five dancers – Lucy Marinkovich, Emily Adams, Manu Reynaud, Olivia McGregor, Levi Cameron – present a wordless narrative that charts group dynamics in an age of individualism and consumerism.  The story is told through movement and symbolism, rather than words. The five performers are entirely clad in different coloured lycra bodysuits that completely obscure every part of their body, including their faces.  They communicate by noises and touch.

The group starts off leaderless, their movements largely synchronised and matching.  They cooperate and collaborate in work and play.  Due to a lack of self-consciousness, I wondered if this was meant to represent people (or other human like creatures) in an innocent, childlike state, although it is open to a number of interpretations.  At this point, although the performers all wear different coloured suits, they seem less like distinct individuals and more like parts of a whole.

Regardless of what meaning you place on the initial group dynamic, it is not long until it begins to change towards self-centred and self conscious behaviour.  As the performers begin to both literally and figuratively consume the paper objects placed in piles around the stage by placing objects under the ‘skin’ of their lycra suits they become more competitive. Exchange of objects begins as mutual trade, but degenerates into theft and greedy accumulation of far more objects than one person needs.  The ‘bodies’ of the performers become more distorted the more they consume.

It was at this point in the work that I began to conceive of each performer as an individual character: the olive character driven to breaking point by over-consumption; the blue character who assists green with the monopolising of objects; and the more playful brown and orange characters, who align as the ‘have-nots’.  As distinct as each character becomes, the performers are unified in their amazing ability to convey a huge range of emotions and tones – all with their faces obscured. 

Randerson and McIntosh engage with a wide range of themes, whilst refusing to provide any clear messages. Because of this the work is refreshingly open to interpretation and can remain playful rather than didactic. The work also eludes any attempt to define it as ‘dance’ or ‘theatre’. It is a richly layered production where sound, movement, objects and light combine to produce an experience that is both other-worldly and yet recognisably human.

On reflection I found myself wondering about the significance of the title, the multiple possible interpretations, the colour choices and more. The carefully selected details of this work were a real stand out for me. Hullapolloi is an excellent work that manages to be both enjoyably engaging and thought provoking. Get to it while you can. 


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A New Creation Myth

Review by Dr Linda Ashley 06th Oct 2011

I had pondered writing a one liner: “Go and see it!” However, I decided to deliver a fuller account, but it’s not anyway near as comprehensive as this highly engaging and perceptive work deserves. If aliens landed tomorrow and saw this piece of dance theatre they could be forgiven for believing it is Planet Earth’s creation myth.

Ever the lover of playing with words (and movement) I started out with the dictionary as a bit of pre-performance research. Hullabaloo–uproar; Polliwig-a tadpole (poll-the head, a register of persons or heads and wiggle); hoi polloi (ordinary people). Yes, to all of the above. As it turns out my word/movement obsessive compulsive disorder is suitably placed alongside Jo Randerson’s literary bent and Kate McIntosh’s astutely observed movement which combined culminate in narrative (wordless), poetry and theatre bewitched with a sense of dark wonderment and hilarity – that is Hullapolloi. 

Embarking with a portrayal of an acephalous community (anthropological term referring to tribes who do not have a chief or ruler, also can refer to headless creatures – mainly molluscs) seems a wholly apt picture to paint for this performance. As the alien-bipeds gregariously come and go it soon becomes clear that having no leader can result in hopeless confusion and panic if something different comes along; and so a Darwinian evolutionary trail commences.

The dancers, Francis Christeller, Lucy Marinkovich, Emily Adams, Emanuel Reynard, Olivia McGregor and Danielle Lindsay add to the bun fight with supreme comic timing, even though they can see very little behind their hooded faces. American choreographer, the great Paul Taylor tells a story that involves Martha Graham ticking him off. In response to his three faceless (lycra bound from head to toe), earthbound, crouching and almost human dancers, in the whimsical and very funny 3 Epitaphs (1954), she admonished him with something along the lines of “Naughty boy! You must never hide their faces!” Well, as we see in Hullapolloi, not seeing the faces can be extremely expressive. The body’s slightest postural nuances take on profoundly meaningful significances and McIntosh and Randerson have fully exploited this possibility. 

In bringing to mind the context of past dance theatre, I align this work with such a tradition and I think this is important and deserved. Hullapolloi’s take on what the late Alwin Nikolais described as ‘the primality of man’, a mystical animalism as underpinning the human condition but tempered by language, is thoroughly involving. In grappling with issues of the environment, ecology in conflict with ours and others’ needs and demands, for Nikolais, ‘man’, as he then referred to us, should be united with the environment rather than dominate it – art became an environmental event.

McIntosh and Randerson draw our attention to similar challenges in a timely manner… somewhat of a palimpsest; and I mean this in the most complimentary way. There is, for instance, a subtext of endless, comedic inventive use of recycled materials, recycled in the dance to the point of obliteration and hence also lowering the carbon footprint. There are some serious illusionary distortions possible with these costumes and props and Hullapalloi makes the most of the possibilities. After the show I was chatting with a colleague who seemed to think that more production value was needed, and I can see his point particularly in terms of possibilities for set and such. In Europe, Randerson and McIntosh will have seen opulent productions and may well dream for the same, however apart from the added cost I wonder if this low tech production is in itself an apt statement to the overall intent? 

Continuing… a plethora of images, too many to mention, invade the viewer’s own twenty first century social understanding of sport, animal life, media, fashion, violence and so forth. As time moves on the ever-inventive bipeds create more and more ‘stuff’. Gradually the social order unravels exposing the fragility and ugliness of capitalism and consumerism to reign supreme. Hullapolloi creates new dimensions of time and space, as in Nikolai’s world, these are not persons in a capitalist society, they are capitalism, they are the dark forces and they are us! 

This is art not as metaphor but more an analogy of our lives. Is this a pre-election statement New Zealand? Clearly there is some type of governance going on here and it has a number of possible outcomes. Unlike evolution or metamorphosis of tadpoles to frogs this is development and its cause is human action- we are agents of change in a ‘free’ market. Freedom, however, can be costly and not just in monetary terms. There is a certain sense of liberty in bondage on this surreal, plastic, even plasticine planet, as our cute little utopian bipeds transform into fat cats, beggars, clueless victims and sycophantic collaborators. When we hit the wasteland in all its desolation there is a hint of redemption and ideological transformation – but maybe go and figure out that one for yourself. 

The valuable input of the dancers to the creative process is clear, as is their skilful ‘wiggling’, stamina and performance quality. The sound scape (Thom McIntosh) and lighting design (Piet Asplet) are both incisive and in tune with the work. Last, but by no means least, Deirdre Tarrant’s indefatigable work since 1985 with Footnote is to be recognised as crucial to the NZ dance scene. This full-length work emphatically confirms that ongoing financial support is essential and deserved… And yes I know that money is the root of all evil, but what does one do? 

For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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The ridiculousness of rules and desires

Review by Jonathan W. Marshall 20th Mar 2011

This year Footnote Dance tour the South Island with the full length work Hullapolloi, rather than their usual mixed bill. Hullapolloi is a playful, object-focussed work from theatre-makers Kate McIntosh and Jo Randerson.

Six performers dressed from the tip of their heads to their feet in skin-tight, stretch lycra come on stage and manipulate materials drawn from five piles. These are a collection of slightly broken down, grey cardboard tubes, an upright roll of butchers’ paper from which sheafs may be torn, a pile of newspapers, a collection of cardboard egg trays, and an assortment of disposable cardboard cups. 

The dramaturgical armature of the performance is fairly straight forward. The performers move in broad unison, mostly enacting simple repetitive and somewhat ritualised acts (bending down with the upper body horizontal and then jumping or shuffling a few paces forward before returning to standing and moving on, and so on). In between, one or more performer becomes distracted, moves to a pile, unzips part of the costume below the neck, shoves a tube or other object into the suit, and then explores some of the possibilities allowed by this. Eddies of affects and responses then move through the group, sometimes generating a return to unison, and at other times a gauche, occasionally violent, set of more frenetic actions throughout the space as a whole. 

Although embodiment is a strong focus throughout, the bodies at work here come across as neither especially athletic, nor indeed particularly human. The lycra is worn over basic T-shirts and shorts, and the effect is a somewhat baggy, non-descript, often rather pear shaped physique. As more matter and cardboard is added to these constructions, the dancers become increasingly bilious and distended. On two occasions, performers become suddenly greedy, forcing almost the entire set into their frames, and violently wrenching tubes, cups and paper from each other, becoming the spitting image of the “No-Face” monster from Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Spirited Away (2001). Like No-Face, this mad consumption and expansion leads to a state of exhausted pathos and a vomiting of these bodily contents back out onto the stage. 

Even before these extremes are attained, the bodies are already uncertain and at the margins of grotesquerie. The fingers are distended and bulbous, so that when the characters engage in their initial interactions of pulling lycra, shapes and sheets of costuming off each other such that they become warped flags and sagging balloons, just grabbing at the fabric, and later at the paper and cardboard, is no easy feat. At no point do these creatures attain real elegance or control.

The sheer inventiveness of all involved in producing these movements, actions, and ways of manipulating what is soon to become rubbish, gives the show tremendous energy. A gorgeous score – presumably a collaboration between Thom McIntosh, Randerson and Kate McIntosh (no composer credit is given) – breaks the movement and choices into a dizzying series of sequences and sections. Often abrupt changes in musical style (from, for example, almost honky-tonk piano to digital dance music) forces the character-performers to shift from one action, such as scooting along the ground on their buttocks, to another, like the head-down shuffle described above.

The music is a wondrous collage of diverse elements, beginning with a broadly electronic and ‘musique concrete’ soundscape, punctuated by samples of bird tweets and other found sounds, through to dirty glitch funk and percussive hiss (at least some of this appears to be have been adapted from the Mille Plateaux label’s wonderful ‘Clicks and Cuts’ series of 2000-04), before dropping back into open textures and extended tones a la Brian Eno. 

Another motif introduced to complicate relations is where performers wrap a sheet of paper over their faces to produce a crab-clawed mask, and then slowly, deliberately, in a series of pulses moving in and out of the ribcage and through bent knees, bring their talon-like hands and arms towards and then away from the solar plexus. This seems to be the one moment of beauty or pleasure which fully arises within the choreography, but it is a dark and menacing pleasure, tied to a sense of domination and selfish victory in the character. 

All of which brings one to quite how to read or interpret this endlessly watchable sequence of ludic explorations. The contrast between the self-destructive, violent and aggressive greedy, all-consuming mode – the No-Face creatures – and the remaining performers who, when such beasts are generated, huddle together to pass between each other a shard of cardboard, is an obvious comment on community and sharing. The piece would also seem to indict contemporary consumer culture and our relentless desire for more products and the wastes we make in doing so. 

The piece ends, though, with a strange closing ritual in which one of these awesome, crab-like creatures is ritualistically struck to the ground and apparently executed by another of the lycra beings, at the behest of his or her fellows. 

This final image emerges without precedent so it remains largely opaque. It could perhaps be a reference to religious ideas of redemption through suffering and sacrifice – the executed character becoming a Christ-like figure who takes on our sins – or it could be a reference to the faceless summary justice which the leading consumerist capitalist power, the USA, has of late been administering out of Guantanamo Bay. Without further contextual support, it is difficult to make any real judgement on this, and perhaps it is unimportant.

More than anything else, the last act seems to encompass the deliberate ambivalence of a work founded on play, and treating with due respect and diligence a rather simple, unassuming, and at times quite deliberately ridiculous and comic set of rules and desires. 

If I have a criticism of this work per se, it would be in the largely easy, breezy positioning of its emotional tone, feel and effects. The fact that the dancers are all in glowing, fluorescent colours is indicative of this, for the piece overall eschews extremes in most respects. The actions are neither rigorously rule-bound and precisely choreographed, nor does a total sense of chaos and destruction ever fully overtake the stage. Instead, we mostly remain within a brightly coloured game space, in which fascistic or neurotic obsessions are rarely attained; nor is a flesh-rending, screaming explosion achieved. 

I would be interested in seeing these far poles realised. To dress the characters in an unforgiving slate grey and perform as if being drilled by an especially strict sergeant-major, or alternatively to allow some of these wilder moments to totally destroy any sense of control and spill over into something closer to butoh or Artaudian madness, would both be possibilities worth enabling within a work such as this. 

That, however, would in all probability not be the Hullapolloi of Randerson, McIntosh and the dancers anymore. Selling to audiences a work by a dance company which involves relatively little of what the lay public normally considers dance is always a hard task. The lightness of tone is probably what will enable Footnote to expand their performative palette without however alienating such a wide audience.

As it is, one could imagine Hullapolloi going down as well with modern dance aficionados as it would with school groups. This is no mean feat, and as with the other pleasures offered by this production, it is to be celebrated. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.  


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A highly intelligent and entertaining experience

Review by Amy Tait 02nd Mar 2011

Highly acclaimed Jo Randerson and Kate McIntosh have collaborated to create a vibrant, insightful and entertaining performance piece. Footnote Dance Company present this hour-long performance that keeps the audience in the palm of its hand from start to finish as it explores human nature and the political dynamics of a group.   


Hullapolloi has a strong comedic vein as it portrays the humour in the human instinct to stay with the crowd, but it also asserts some darker and less desirable facets of human nature as it explores conformity and the need to control others. It questions what is normal and acceptable, and who gets to decide.

Each dancer’s face is covered by their costume, meaning that communication with the audience relies solely on physical expression, which is impeccably achieved. Not one movement is wasted or superfluous, but instead the movements are instrumental to the development of the ideas and themes of the piece. This results in a highly intelligent and entertaining experience, in which each movement is eagerly anticipated.

The cleverly designed costumes allow the dancers to create visually effective shapes, adding to the physical comedy of the piece. Seemingly unassuming props are used to alter the shape and appearance of the performers, symbolising breaking away from the group and a shift from innocence and purity. The addition of these props to the full body suits displays that as we try to change ourselves we may find that sometimes those changes cannot be undone. 

From start to finish the dancers remain on stage, requiring a huge amount of energy and making this piece very physically demanding. There is often a lot happening on stage, adding to the spectacle and enhancing the effectiveness of the synchronised sections, rather than creating clutter.

This work uses a clever compilation of music and sounds which correspond directly with the actions and intentions of the movement. The dancers also contribute vocally to the performance, weaving their breath into the soundtrack. 

The relatively small audience reacted responsively throughout with clear appreciation. Unfortunately for Wellington theatre-goers there are only two performances of Hullapolloi and one of them has passed. If you have the opportunity to go along this evening I strongly recommend you do; you will not be disappointed. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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