OUR MODERN EARTH (Is A F*cking Mess)

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

20/10/2020 - 24/10/2020

Production Details

A topical piece on one of the greatest threats to mankind – Climate Change.  

Earth. 4.543 billion years old. Throughout that time, our planet has shifted, and now we face potential mass extinction. Using recycled materials, this installation and dance-theatre work will explore how borders of countries have changed over the thousands of years we’ve inhabited them – and the absurdity of land possession.

Each night, a different performer or performers will be given provocations about climate change to create and perform a work right in front of you.

Basement Theatre
20 Oct – 24 Oct 2020
Price: $15 – $35
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Lock-out: Please arrive 15 minutes before show start time. Latecomers admitted into the theatre at Basement’s discretion – no refunds will be given.

Theatre , Dance-theatre ,

1 hr

Our Current Moment

Review by Erin O'Flaherty 08th Nov 2020

Intense, explosive and beautiful.  Our Modern Earth (Is A F*cking Mess), created by Amber Liberté and performed by an ensemble cast of 13, is another chaos-fuelled response to the climate crisis in the Basement’s main space. A fusion of dance, theatre and art installation, it immediately announces itself as an experimental work. Not least because the experience begins before we’ve even entered the theatre – the cast stagger our entrance, bringing us into the space in small groups, while those waiting can watch on a phone a livestream of the space we’re about to enter. This plunges our nervous systems right into Covid times and hints that this piece will not be limiting its focus solely to the environment but rather, as its title suggests, aims to capture our modern experience as a whole.

The stage is set in long traverse (audience on either side) with a screen at one end, which plays shots of the earth from space as we wait for the show to ‘begin’. We sit underneath netting filled with plastic bottles, as if we are sea creatures submerged in an ocean of everlasting trash. When the lights finally dim… [More]


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Dense, multi-disciplinary, multi-media experience somehow reassuring

Review by Leigh Sykes 21st Oct 2020

I am asked to wait a few moments after the people in front of me go through the doors into the theatre. Then I am ushered into the space between the two sets of doors with a few other people, and we are shown live footage from what is happening inside the theatre. I see a pile of different materials at one end of the space and glimpse other things that I am unable to identify. And then the others and I are invited into the performance space and asked to take a seat on one side or other.

The space is set up in traverse. At the far end from the entrance, a large screen displays some beautiful images of the Earth from space. There is a lot to take in as the rest of the audience gradually filters in. The show is described as an “installation and dance-theatre work”, and this installation makes a very clear statement from the beginning.

I can see many different objects and materials. Wire mesh is moulded into wave-like shapes at ceiling height, containing plastic, yarn, empty bottles, coffee machine pods and numerous other objects. It strikes me as a collection of materials that I associate with images of animals choked to death on discarded plastic, making surreal and devastating sculptures of waste and carelessness. I’m not sure this connection is intended but it’s a very real one for me, invoking the damage humanity does to the environment on a daily basis.

The images on the screen change, and a hush falls signalling that the show is beginning. From images of the whole Earth, we now see images of beginnings, plants growing, weather and other natural phenomena. The performers then enter the space, capturing images on their phones and sharing them onto the screen.

There is so much to see and try to unpack in everything that makes up the show. Movement is repeated and amplified; the installation is changed by interactions of one or more of the performers; one performer moves with ultra-slow and focused steps from one end of the space to the other; sometimes there are collisions or near misses that are really interesting as authentic moments of spontaneity; sometimes so much is happening that I don’t really know where to look or what to understand from the bewildering range of performers and movement, and so just surrender to the events. I suspect I’m missing some of the performers’ or creator’s intentions, but I am still engaged in the overall experience.

Then an omniscient voice begins to issue instructions, first to one specific performer and then the others. This voice and these instructions start to pull all of the aspects of the work together. At first I think the voice is a recording, but by the end I suspect it is the show’s creator providing provocations for the performers. They seize on them with energy and enthusiasm and some striking moments appear: voices in wonderful harmony; dancers immersing themselves in their physical responses; more and more drastic changes to the set and movement that responds to words capturing key ideas (Oil, Tech etc).

As the show nears an end, the space is transformed, and the performers have freely shared their energy, their creativity and their concerns. The transformation of the space graphically captures the changes that the Earth has been, and is still being, subjected to as a result of climate change. It is almost unrecognisable from the start of the show, and when the performers leave, it is easy to correlate the massive changes that have taken place with the humans who have inhabited the space.

The moment that stays with me the longest is the final question from the omniscient voice, which prompts me to consider what I can do to be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Although I may not have unpacked every feature of this dense, multi-disciplinary, multi-media show, the experience leaves me with that final question, and the reassuring feeling that change is possible, and sometimes small individual acts are the only way to begin.


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