Our Catharsis

Thistle Hall, Cnr Cuba & Arthur Streets, Wellington

03/03/2016 - 04/03/2016

Room Four, 366 St Asaph Street, Christchurch

09/10/2013 - 11/10/2013

NZ Fringe Festival 2016 [reviewing supported by WCC]

The Body Festival 2013

Production Details

Choreographed and written by Kate Bartlett, in collaboration with Rebecca Solomon, Our Catharsis is a work of dance-theatre that looks to address the destabilising effects of life’s apparent fragility.

How do we wear our worry? 
In what form do we find cathartic release from this?

These notions of questioning are carried out through text, movement, and film to present a personal unfolding of events. We – two women with overlapping experiences – will share a semi-autobiographical account of our method for living; exposing the instances in which we find ways 
of coping… 
of becoming 
of projecting 
of ending

Venue Room 4, 366 St Asaph St 
Date/Time Wed 9th – Fri 11th October at 8.00pm 
Cost $15, $10 concessions from Dash Tickets www.dashtickets.co.nz or phone 0800 327 484 booking fees apply

Theatre , Performance installation , Contemporary dance ,

40 mins

Small, personal, wry and cleverly engaging

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 05th Mar 2016

What does it feel like when we are slipping down life? 

Two performers, Rebecca Solomon and Kate Bartlett, enter a contained and sparsely furnished space – they set two lights which emphasised even more the smallness of this experience and the likelihood that what we would  see and share would be personal.

Shadows against a wall alone and together, similar yet different, friends yet individuals, Words drove the music and songs and a series of autobiographical episodes played out. Gestural rhythms and synchronicity then simple but effective ‘tests’ ‘ Attempting the impossible’ was fun and these two had a wry humour and a minimalist and pragmatic take on some universal dilemmas. The minimalist extended to the use of named props – Tabitha Tasha and Lilly and some sensory delights that cleverly drew us into their relationship.

 I particularly liked the real time of the ‘ time machine’ and when Kate  wanted to talk to her friend in Glasgow. The way she solved this was direct, honest and totally convincing – to her.

There was that magic of a child-like belief in all things being as you want them – perhaps it was all a bit too easy? In the end, they said they would like to leave- and did.

Thought provoking or naive? Solutions or problems? Theatre should take us somewhere else and ask us to consider. Catharsis in its half hour duration touched the surface and left us wanting the popcorn.



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Unique, intelligent, thought-provoking work

Review by Julia Harvie 11th Oct 2013

To ‘set the tone for’  this review, (quoting the opening and closing lines of the show) I must state that I have known these artists since they began at Hagley Dance Company. They have gone on to study at UNITEC and Kate Bartlett has completed her Masters at Auckland University. However, I am not familiar with their artistic practice at all so it  was a delight to discover and experience them as emerging artists in their own right. I related to the work as a choreographic practitioner -admiring the subtlety of their practice, as well as engaging with the thematic content, which addressed memory, personal story and in a sense the autobiographical nature of making work itself. Our Cartharsis is a delicate yet dense work. Superbly rendered, the research and process behind this work is very clear. The program notes indicate Our Cartharsis is a loose adaptation of Bartlet’s solo performance Room Spine, a part of her Masters of Creative Performing Arts at Auckland University. It is pleasing to see another graduate of this Masters program (noting the likes of Anna Bate)  presenting such intelligent, unique and thought provoking work. 

This piece and the performers are a delight from start to finish. The other fifteen audience members and I are captivated through each gentle, cleverly crafted moment.It is proof that when choreographers commit to creating a world that avoids spectacle as a ruse for conceptual integrity, intricacy and virtuosity  can still be achieved without grand theatrics. They never seem to be trying too hard – which is what we love to see from the most virtuosic prima ballerina, we see the ease that can only be achieved through hard work and practice.

Unlike a ballet however, this is a no-frills show. The dancers wear no make-up, there are no lights, except for two white desk lamps and the sound score consists of four songs, a recorded dialogue bite, live action sound and the performer’s voices. They do use a few set pieces including a projector, two microwaves, (that pop 2 bags of popcorn as the dancers move to the popping), a hairdryer and 2 desks all revealed and used minimally but to great effect within the intimate gallery space setting of Room Four. The work was not made for this space, but Bartlett and Solomon manage to make it seem as if it was, utilizing a trap door in the floor, a cupboard on the back wall and the entrance door, again with uncompromising, smart simplicity. 

Both performers are very comfortable using dialogue throughout, to address one another and the audience, often introducing each scene with such lines as ‘framing failure’ and ‘attempting the impossible’. In the ‘attempting the impossible’ scene, Bartlett attempts to speak to her friend living in Singapore by yelling as loud as she can then Rebecca Solomon tries to remove her own underwear without using her hands before endeavoring to levitate. With a little help from Bartlett’s magical stage craft, they do manage to levitate, albeit floating on a desk, the hairdryer blowing her air and a projected image of clouds on the wall behind. She seems very pleased with the results and so are we – our sense of logic is prepared to be suspended because this is another instance where the magic is grounded in artistic process and this is laid bare for us to see. 

It is apparent that every moment has been considered through a choreographic filter – whether it be turning on a lamp, eating popcorn or performing dance material while holding a sandbag. When ‘dance’ itself is employed, the movement vocabulary is mainly expressed through pared back states, subtle gesticulation and gentle collapse. It is very restrained and this is a clear decision. I would be curious to see if with further development, the movement could be bolder without losing the effects achieved in this rendering of the work.

The structure reads like a short story informing the flow and pace while managing to avoid being an episodic collage of scenes. I imagine this to have been a particular challenge as they certainly couldn’t rely on light or sound or a backstage to transition and perhaps this in a way becomes a real strength of the work. The themes of memory, personal story, distress and comfort are threaded and layered throughout using irony and humor that never becomes earnest or melodramatic. Although the work is framed in an abstract and obtuse world, the audience is never patronized or left out in the dark, feeling ignorant and excluded. There is almost a feeling that we are watching children put on a show in the lounge, with uninhibited imagination and charm. I would love to hear more about how Bartlett created this work, I am convinced the process was just as interesting as the work itself.

The performers finish with an allusion to the way they began, a bouncing back of memory filtered through the chinese whisper of the performance. The trap door is highlighted by the lamps again and some special pieces of detritus from the desks are placed through the portal. They ask: ‘To set the done so as to end, if it’s ok with you we’d like to leave’. And they exit out the main entrance. They don’t return for a rapturous curtain call – and this seems fitting to me, although the audience clearly wanted to show their gratitude. So the technician goes searching for them, they have started walking down the road and have become cold. We welcome them back into the space with warm appreciation for a job well done. 

I look forward to watching these artists continue to develop and flourish and hope to see more of their work touring to Christchurch in the coming years. 



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