STRIKE Between Zero and One

Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

08/04/2015 - 12/04/2015

Regent Theatre, The Octagon, Dunedin

17/10/2014 - 18/10/2014

Dunedin Arts Festival 2014

Production Details

“awesome percussion skills… had the packed St James in raptures” – DOMINION POST 

The Regent Theatre will pulse with an extraordinary new work by Strike, the country’s premier percussion ensemble. 

Between Zero and One is music and visual performance on an epic scale. Inspired by ancient and modern rhythms – from tribal beats to dubstep, this brilliant work is the creation of New Zealand composer John Psathas. Between Zero and One includes great musicians from around the world and interactive projections that transform the set into a work of art. 

Beginning and ending with a Big Bang, expect wild instrumentation, and Strike’s signature charm. Intimate moments will draw you in – the epic finalé will blow your mind. 

‘Shiva Sleeps’ by John Psathas & Jack Hooker
‘Superluminal’ by Psathas
‘Bell Drums’ by Psathas
‘Africa’ by Psathas
‘His Second Time’ by Psathas
‘Dog Eat Dog’ by David Downes
‘Between Zero and One’ by Psathas & Strike
‘Waking Brahma’ by Psathas & Hooker 

Regent Theatre
Fri 17 Oct & Sat 18 Oct 8pm
Duration 1 Hr 10 Mins, No Interval
Circle & Stalls: A Reserve $50 / $45; B Reserve $45 / $40; C Reserve $35 / $30


Q Theatre, Rangatira
Wednesday Apr 8 – Sunday Apr 12 2015 
6:30pm Wed & Fri / 8:30pm Thurs & Sat / 4pm Sun 
75min (no interval) 
$25-$39 (service fees apply)
OR pay $60 for a double feature ticket to ‘Between Zero and One’ & ‘Daffodils’
– See more at:

Strike are: Murray Hickman, Takumi Motokawa, Dori Raphael,Tom Scrase, Leni Sulusi, Tim Whitta, Stephanie Engelbrecht

Virtual / Pre-recorded Performers: Salina Fisher (violin), Annabel Drummond (violin), John Roxburgh (viola), Anne-Marie Alloway (cello), Louis van der Mespel (double bass).

Projections: Tim Gruchy 
Sound: Oliver Ballester 
Design (lights & set): Glenn Ashworth 
Directorial advice / dramaturgy: Philippa Campbell 

Costumes: Lela Jacobs
Production Manager: Matt Hopping
Stage Manager: Lesley Bandy
Producer: Angela Green

Between Zero and One contributors: Leila Adu - New York, Adam Page - Wellington, Serj Tankian - Los Angeles, Matt Penman - New York, Petros Kourtis - Athens, John Psathas - Wellington, Warren Maxwell - Featherston, Lara St. John & Iggy Cain - New York, Pedro Carneiro - Lisbon, Michael Gavriel - Wellington, Pei-Ching Wu - Taipei, Kostas Theodorakos - Athens, Julia Coolikova - Moscow, Louis van der Mespel - Wellington, Anna-Marie Alloway - Wellington, John Roxburgh - Wellington, Salina Fisher - Wellington, Annabel Drummond - Wellington, Sophia Labropoulou - Athens, Alex Ware - Wellington & Jack Hooker - Wellington.

Theatre , Musical ,

1hr 10mins (no interval)

High energy ride through a multi-layered explosion of sound, visuals and harmony

Review by Dione Joseph 10th Apr 2015

John Psathas is an exceptional composer. If you haven’t had a chance to behold his incredible scores (and I say that without any intention of claiming the work to be bombastic or grandiose) you’re missing out. 

STRIKE Between Zero and One is a show of world class quality. It defies conventional categories of performance, expectations and creates a spectacle that is as loud as it is meticulous in creating distinct harmonies. 

The opening number ‘Shiva Sleeps’ by Psathas and Jack Hooker is a visual and aural blast (quite literally my eardrums are ringing) that launches its audience through a time portal from the very beginnings of our evolution. Teamed up with Tim Gruchy’s slick multilayered graphics and visual landscaping, all you need is a bunch of percussionists who love making the sound they do. And luckily, under the leadership of Artistic Director Murray Hickman, these musicians are clearly having a blast.

Various drums, chromium bowls, body percussion as well as ample use of the Marimba form the musical artillery and the orchestration is superb. Highlights out of the set include ‘Dog eat Dog’ by David Downes and ‘Between Zero and One’ by Psathas and Strike, and Leni Sulusi’s commitment to turning up the audience participation is a key moment in amping up the energy at this night’s performance.

It’s clear that this production has been developed and workshopped extensively. Under the direction of Phillipa Campbell (performance) and Hickman (music) the show comes close to achieving a rare quality of harmony. The only minor quibble would be the lack of choreography to match the fabulous auralities created. There are tiny glimpses of the brimming potency to physicalise but the aesthetic remains largely rooted in percussion, on which front it does excel admirably.

The collaborations of international artists (most of whom seemed to be from New York and Wellington) also add to the narrative that essentially takes us through a musical time warp; an international jam session played out on stage and although those overseas are pre-recorded the synchronicity is laudable.

STRIKE Between Zero and One offers a powerful high energy ride through a multi-layered explosion of sound, visuals and harmony. Definitely worth checking out.


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Winning combination of dynamic visuals and sympathetic beats meets a perfect storm of obstacles

Review by Jonathan W. Marshall 19th Oct 2014

Strike is a Wellington-based percussion ensemble who have taken a leaf out of UK junk percussion group Stomp and the big Japanese taiko drumming tours of the late 1980s to theatricalise their own live performances. 

The principal element in this theatricalisation is the work of long-time projection master Tim Gruchy. Gruchy’s work here is bright, near fluorescent in colour, working with a very intense filmic palette. The material is principally geometric, including beautiful red and green lattices or vivid, paired, moth-wing like symmetrical blots, which gradually move as the music builds. 

Although some of these more psychedelic colour combinations may evoke oil-based projections of 1960s freak-out bands, or even Len Lye, the attention to precisely demarcated shapes against a uniform background (usually black) makes Gruchy’s work here closest to German interwar avant-garde animator and painter Oscar Fischinger. One of the real delights of this piece is watching this relatively poorly known style reinterpreted using the even more precise tools of contemporary digital projection. 

Musically, the material assembled here—largely by composer John Psathas—is diverse. No printed programme is offered, so I cannot be more precise than this (lack of programs seems something of a running theme in the Dunedin Festival!).

There is batucada / Guinean style drumming, using the rapid, sharp strikes of djembe drums as the lead instrument. One especially striking composition is performed on vibraphones and xylophones, and its very simple, yet wonderfully pulsing rhythms are strongly reminiscent of Carl Orff’s classic pieces for teaching percussion and language to schoolchildren, Das Schulwerk (1936)—well known to many audiences through its use by filmmaker Terence Malik for Badlands (1973) and in Australian composer David Chesworth’s wonderful Badlands Suite (1998). Whilst much of this material is not especially innovative, it is adeptly performed and highly striking; a good night out of music, to be sure. 

Another particularly fine piece in the evening’s repertoire features the modern UFO-like steel drums known as hang drums. Like the xylophone and vibraphone composition cited above, this piece is relatively quiet, subtle, and has much of its aural delicacy and colour in the upper frequency registers. It consequently sounds extremely good in the Regent Theatre, and the wafting, tinny travels of the sound move about on the right of the stage and into the space in a truly wonderful manner.

Other than Gruchy’s projections though, the theatricalisation in the pieces is relatively light on. It is largely the colour of Gruchy’s imagery which provides any sense of visual movement or spectacle. 

In a more innovative fashion, Strike perform one piece using a drumstick on the end of a long rope, whipping it backwards and forwards on stage, as the other percussionists respond and move to this gesture. Here, a greater sense of a set of large scale, active physical interactions is put into play, although again, the piece is perhaps more a fun romp than anything markedly rhythmically or colouristically complex. 

At these kind of moments, Strike’s Between Zero and One does really hit its stride. Dynamic visuals and sympathetic beats are, after all, a winning combination. 

It is therefore somewhat unfortunate that, especially for audiences in the upper gallery of the Regent, these strengths were hampered by technical shortcomings. 

Percussion is of course typically very loud on its own, and Strike follow Stomp et al in imparting a sense of rock’n’roll by further amplifying the acoustics. Sadly, at least at opening night in the upper gallery, the sound was muddy and spatially indistinct. It was typically very difficult to recognise who was playing which sounds, and the material hit the audience as a wall, rather than set of spatially separated, deep and intriguing sounds. In short, the sound was too rock’n’roll, rather close to that of an overdriven, aged pub sound system. 

The opening and the closing finale are performed at the rear of the stage, considerably behind the edge of the proscenium arch. Strike have for some time now been using a highly inventive, evocative scaffold with different levels for drummers and percussionists, with drums lined out in a plane facing the audience. The drama comes, then, from looking over the percussionists backs as they bend and move about this structure. Gruchy adds to the dynamics with intermittent starbursts which coincide with major accents in the music. 

Unfortunately, from where I am seated, the upper level of this structure is cut off by the proscenium arch. The performers on the lower level are thankfully fully visible but those on the upper levels are visible only from the shoulders up. This is the equivalent of screening a film with the heads of the major characters in the background cut off, and it is poor planning that this problem is not noticed, and seating allocations not adjusted. 

The opening night moreover had perhaps more drama than was ideal, as a member of the audience on the lower level was continually making strange groaning and/or animal like noises at some volume. Although much of the music was amplified, this was a constant and significant source of distraction such as one would not normally expect within a performance focussed quite specifically on sound and music. This became even more problematic when the performers themselves began to make non-verbal noises as part of the music. Unfortunately it was not possible to identify which of these sounds came from the audience member in question, and which from the performers, and the precise rhythmic structure which the artists were aiming for was largely lost. 

In short, at least on the night I attended, one had the strong impression of a truly wonderful performance which was struggling to emerge from beneath what seemed like a perfect storm of obstacles. One can only hope that Strike might return to Dunedin under better circumstances sometime in the future. 


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