NEVERBEFORE: A Colony for Urban Change
06/03/2013 - 09/03/2013
Our times are complex enough by themselves, sometimes even overwhelming, and it doesn’t help that the party has been crashed by dirty old Impending Doom & his grubby mate Global Crisis. No one seems to have invited them and they certainly are Gloomy Gusses.
Our homepages and our lives are populated by networks of young professionals trying to make change over soy lattés, and Storytellers organically farming out their messages to all and sundry. The incessant imperative to choose begins at breakfast (“Will those refried methane cakes balance the imported cage-fruit to make for an ethically neutral snack?”) and persists right through to bedtime internet browsing (‘Agrarian Revolution in the 21st Century’ or ‘Happy Farm Game’?).
In short – it’s hard to know what’s right, and it’s harder still to get it done!
NeverBefore is an organisation keenly aware of these pressures. We want to help you follow your natural urges and dissipate that pressure in creative and productive ways. We are redesigning living and recoding desire for maximum urban change. Remember, it’s not wrong to find the Apocalypse secretly attractive, like the sent-from-the-future lover you’ve always wanted, it’s here to show you the way.
Come along to our information evenings, held as part of 2013 Fringe Festival, to find out how we aim to achieve all this and more through initiatives such as the Ban Apathy in Public Places Bill; ‘Stop Drop and Change’ personal trainers; Brain Action Interventions; and the Apocalypse Education Trailer.
Skye Williams, NB’s horizontal leader, and some of the NB crew, will be your hosts and lead discussion. Electric sea shanties will be performed to illuminate the imaginative voyage. And Skye might even play some home videos providing an insight into the private life of a young visionary.
When: 8pm, (doors 7.30pm) Wednesday 6 March – Saturday 9 March 2013.
Where: NeverBefore HQ (The Moorings), 31 Glenbervie Terrace, Thorndon,Wellington.
How Much: 15 waged, 10 concession, 8 fringe card. (Tickets from Eventfinder.co.nz)
A Poor Sailors Arts Collective production. www.poorsailorsartscollective.com
People in the show:
Linsell Richards (Writer/Director). From Wellington.
Lake (Writer/Director/Music). From Wellington, via Tauranga.
Chris Wilson (Lighting). From England/Germany.
Kohe (Stage Technician). From Wellington.
Bryson Rooney (Video). From Connecticut, USA.
Phill Jones (Music, Urbantramper). From Hawkes Bay.
Andy Hoy (Music, Urbantramper). From Tauranga.
Skye Williams (Horizontal Leader, NeverBefore). From Wellington
Frida Corsaire (Skye's Partner). From Wellington.
BAM aka Brain Action Mike (Colony Member, NeverBefore). From Wellington.
Ruby (Scholarship Recipient, NeverBefore). From USA or Canada maybe.
Promising ‘play’ loses its way
Review by John Smythe 07th Mar 2013
Facing the fear of looming global apocalypse in the various guises being predicted has become a recurring theme in the second decade of this new millennium.
Two years ago, Long Cloud Youth Theatre offered an inspired take on it with Yo Future followed by last year’s Tom Keeper Passes and Assisted Living – all highly creative. Also last year Richard Meros Salutes the Southern Man sought to reclaim old pioneer values in the quest for national and global salvation. And this year Binge Culture’s For Your Future Guidance got us actively involved in a seminar on the topic.
There are echoes of the latter two in NeverBefore: A Colony for Urban Change – written by Linsell Richards who also directs with Lake [sic] – first because of the PowerPoint lecture format that starts it off and recurs throughout, and secondly because of the public meeting-cum-workshop feel, although NeverBefore’s repeated promises to open it to the floor turn out to be a theatrical device and its audience remains passive observers.
Let me hasten to say that I don’t regard engaging intellectually or emotionally in one’s own private space as passive observation but as the night wears on (nearly two hours without a break) it becomes more and more apparent that our role is just to listen and observe. And the terms of engagement are elusive.
As with Residence, earlier this Fringe, we congregate in a splendid historical home, although unlike the Inverlochy Art School in Te Aro, The Moorings in Thorndon is actually home to some ten lucky tenants so we don’t tour the premises or anywhere else, despite being promised “New Zealand’s First Ever Apathy Tours.” Oh well, who cares … Is that the appropriate answer? Some of us are approached to sign a petition, however, to ban apathy in public places.
It is downstairs, in what I have always know as ‘the ballroom’, that we take our seats, to be treated to the first of many electronica songs by Urbantramper (Phill Jones, Andy Hoy and Lake), before a young man called Skye Williams (played by Sven Adam) commences his authentically-pitched PowerPoint presentation.
Having done the hippy drop-out and protesting-as-a-way-of-life-but-to-no-effect thing, not to mention pursuing meaningless goals in cyberspace, Skye has reinvented himself as a tech-savvy change maker. The conceit seems to be that what we witness tonight was devised by the NeverBefore Colony crew on a decommissioned tug boat called SS Think Tanker, beached off Somes Island, before they came ashore to The Moorings.
Aware that humanity will judge us all on what we do, or don’t do, over the next 20 years – a.k.a. The Apoc Epoch – Skye is determined to enrol us in taking action. So far so promising …
But first, another song (something about finding freedom on the waves of the great open sea) and then a video recording of Skye and a young English woman, Frida Corsaire (Tara O’Brien), preparing to go sailing while she tells a story of a previous and almost fatal attempt. Fair enough: Skye has already told us telling stories is key to achieving change.
Meanwhile, it seems, the public meeting we’ve gathered for has been proceeding with someone called Tom opining from the floor. Now the PowerPoint continues, bringing us to BAM: Brain Action Mike (Louis Tait) and the concept of Brain Rave parties as being the best way to take direct action – and maybe get some action (nudge-nudge). And here is where Scholarship Recipient Ruby (Ania Upstill), from Portland Oregon, pitches the Apathy Course, Apathy Tours, the Apathy Quit Line and the ‘Ban apathy in public places’ petition.
While the meeting is ostensibly opened to the floor again, the next song (in which the lyrics are lost in a blur of electronic filtering and vowel distortions, as with the remaining songs) bridges to another video, where Skye and Frida, dressed as pirates, discuss the sexual imperative, the ideal of rising to higher level and why the French call an orgasm “la petite mort” before her being a public servant surfaces as a point of contention regarding how effective change may be affected and by whom.
Various fascinating facts emerge to feed apocalypse scenarios, a wacko conspiracy theorist (Thomas Pepperell) speaks from the floor, another young American woman – who will later dance to a sang – suggests we just party till its over, a woman called Fran (suspiciously like Frida) tells us to calm down because the Apocalypse isn’t happening any time soon, Skye manages to regain his footing …
And so it goes on … and on … another song, another video, more PowerPoint and meeting … losing its way in terms of its quest, which may or may not be the point, until personal heartbreak overwhelms the idealistic fantasy of ‘saving the world’.
What seems to begin as an audience participation event framed within a public meeting turns out to be a multimedia play that falters for lack of a coherent structure. It needs a lot of dramaturgy and editing to reach its potential.
As it stands there are lots of good moments and many longeurs as the central idea loses impetus and stalls. The video sequences especially are way over-written and the PowerPoint presentation-cum-public meeting sequences outstay they welcome. Rather than being the culmination of all that has gone before, the ending is mundane and feels like a fizzer.
Again, this may be the point but it has yet to be crafted in a way that we ‘get it’ as such. The large team has clearly worked hard to bring this iteration of NeverBefore: A Colony for Urban Change to fruition. Hopefully that will allow its creator to see what changes are needed.
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