Lyttelton Arts Factory, Lyttelton

17/09/2022 - 24/09/2022

Production Details

movement director Fleur de Thier
artist Simon van der Sluijs

From the creative minds of movement director Fleur de Thier and artist Simon van der Sluijs comes Requiem,  a theatre experience with 10 dancers, 2 actors, 13 puppets, a live musician and a poem in an act of remembrance. With Requiem we remember how life has forever changed in the last decade as a result of the quakes, the first terrorist attack and corona and that a new, resilient human was required. We all have been, one way or another, affected by the events of the last decade, we all had to deal with the grief of what was lost and we all needed to rely on each other to find a way through and come out better at the other end. Requiem starts and ends with a party and visualises what happened in between. This promises to be a performance which will stay with you well after the show has ended.

This is the second production of Fleur and Simon being played in LAF. In 2019 they brought Mantra, a poëtic meditation on love, life and death for two dancers and two puppets, a highly successful show which drew large audiences and was well received by the critics. “…This work looks deceptively easy but the complexity of choreographing two dancers working with two puppets adds an extra layer which de Thier grasps with her usual artistic alacrity. The effect is stunning and the flow is breathtaking. There is certainly a convergence of artistic strengths when the creative minds of artist and creative director, Simon van der Sluijs and choreographer Fleur de Thier are united.”

Kerri Fitzgerald, Theatreview, 26 Oct 2019

Requiem, performed by Rebound Dance Company, choreography by Fleur de Thier and puppets by Simon van der Sluijs, 

a theatre experience with 10 dancers, 2 actors, 13 puppets, a live musician and a poem in an act of remembrance. 

Dance-theatre , Puppetry , Dance ,


Requiem - a reflection on extraordinary times in the region

Review by Dr Ian Lochhead 18th Sep 2022

Twelve years after the first Canterbury earthquake in September 2010 Fleur de Thier and Simon van der Sluijs have combined their creative skills to reflect on what has been an extraordinary period in the lives of those living in the region.  Those first tremors inaugurated a period of unprecedented disruption, uncertainty and tragedy for thousands of people and it seems natural to want to mark this through the medium of theatre and dance.  De Thier has already explored the impacts of the earthquakes on people’s lives in a number of shows beginning at a time when the ground was still shaking with aftershocks.  This is the first time in which the earthquakes, the Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks and the pandemic have formed the subject of a single production.  The title Requiem refers to the liturgy of the mass for the dead but in spite of the sombreness of its title this is a far from gloomy production.

As is often the case with Rebound’s performances, the show is already underway as we take our seats; the performers are having a party on stage and we are invited to have a glass of wine and a piece of cheese, the only difficulty being that the cheese is wooden and the wine quite literally ‘chateau cardboard’.  By the time everyone is seated the cast has frozen in place on stage, coming to life to the sounds of Gershwin’s Summertime, ‘when the living is easy’, evoking the summer of innocence between the first earthquakes of 2010 and the shattering events of February 2011.  Having thought we had escaped ‘the big one’ largely unscathed and full of optimism for the future lives were suddenly thrown into chaos.  This is reflected in the music, played on stage by cellist, Nicole Reddington over a pre-recorded soundtrack of cello and percussion.  With its wide spectrum of sonorities the cello is the ideal instrument to reflect the emotional range of this work, from mellow wistfulness to gruff calamitousness.

From being tossed about by uncontrollable seismic forces the post-quake experience of a different kind of uncontrollable force is explored.  A veiled figure proceeds across the stage drawing a white train in her wake, creating a diagonal division across the space.  Is this a fissure opened up by the quakes or is it the division between east and west sides of the city, between zones where liquefaction occurred and areas where it didn’t?  As with much in this show it remains somewhat baffling.  What, for example, is the meaning of the four cardboard boxes that dancers, now sporting spiralling cardboard wigs, wear like pannier dresses in a slow, courtly pavane?  Easier to understand is the trio of ‘officials’ wearing dunces’ caps who symbolise the governmental response to the quakes.  Metres of red tape are spooled out to surround the queuing victims who are exhorted to stay in line.  Reassurance that ‘your call is important to us’ is greeted with wry laughter by an audience all too familiar with being fobbed off with such blandishments.

Centre stage throughout is a blank wall of cardboard cubes that is gradually dismantled.  It is perhaps, both the city being progressively deconstructed and the fabric of people’s lives being torn down.  At one point a figure slowly staggers across the stage weighed down by his load of household effects, an all too familiar experience as people moved from one form of temporary accommodation to another.

With the arrival of the puppets a new stage in the narrative is reached.  The first to appear is a single mask with a trailing, bright red body, a victim of terrorism tenderly embraced then cradled, it seems, by death itself. The sense of grief is palpable as the lone figure, representing the many, slowly departs.  Further puppet masks now appear, this time differentiated by facial features and accoutrements; high collars, strange headdresses and the like, representatives of a global community.  The dancers supporting them merge into a whole and split into groups.  Each time they retreat to the edge of the stage a group of masks is left behind supported on stands where they remain visible.  Are these the successive waves of the pandemic, with each wave carrying off further victims?

The show comes to an end with surprising abruptness.  The cardboard box wall is reassembled but this time it bears a message and in the centre is a figure that is both male and female, arms outstretched.  It is a clear allusion to the Renaissance ideal of the Vitruvian man, remade in the ideal proportions of the new dawn of humanity.  We are being invited to witness the birth of the resilient new person ready to face the challenges of a changed world.  After a decade of trauma it is a surprisingly optimistic conclusion; in a world already experiencing the ravages of climate change we will surely need to call on all the resilience we have gained.

The partnership of Fleur de Thier and Simon van der Sluijs has produced a thought-provoking, absorbing and, at times, enigmatic production.  Like the rest of us they are, no doubt, still processing just what the last decade means.  De Thier, in particular, has never shied away from big subjects and the pair’s willingness to respond to often harrowing experiences creates the opportunity for their audiences to re-engage with these difficult issues.  Once again Rebound’s dancers bring their own enthusiasm, humour, energy and resilience to the performance.

Requiem, performed by Rebound Dance Company, choreography by Fleur de Thier and puppets by Simon van der Sluijs, at Lyttelton Arts Factory, Lyttelton, 17 September at 7.30 pm.  Further performance on 18th, 24th and 25th September 2022. 



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