Athenaeum Theatre Basement, Dunedin

11/03/2016 - 13/03/2016

Dunedin Fringe 2016

Production Details

Award-winning Ake Ake Theatre Company join ceramic artist Zehavit Darlington (Israel/NZ) and noise violinist Motoko Kikkiwa (Japan/NZ) in celebration of the Artisan and the Earth. Live music, physical theatre, mud and stars dance together in this symphony to Papatuanuku. Family friendly and joyful.

These Friday and Saturday performances by Ake Ake Theatre Company will take place in the Athenaeum Basement.

A final special performance will take place for the Sunday evening show at Macandrew Bay beach, with a children’s circus-theatre workshop woven into the evening’s performance at 5pm followed by a community feast- see separate event listing for further details.

TIMES FRI 11 MAR 7:00PM – 7:50PM
SAT 12 MAR 7:00PM – 7:50PM
PRICE $15.00

Performance Art , Dance , Cirque-aerial-theatre , Children’s ,

1 hour

Joyful performance and mud-slinging

Review by Hannah Molloy 13th Mar 2016

Dunedin’s Athenaeum basement provided a very atmospheric space for Ake Ake Theatre’s performance of Stuck in the Mud. With music and vocals by International House Band and the rhythmic sweep of a potter’s wheel providing a metronomic heartbeat. A crowd of perhaps 60 people were seated on the floor, on boxes and seats and stood around leaning on walls and the pillars holding up the ceiling.

Ceramic artist Zehavit Darlington (Israel/NZ) was at her wheel as the audience came in, her attention fully focussed on her work. The floor of the stage area was covered in dense wet clay and the band set up to the side with noise violinist Motoko Kikkiwa (Japan/NZ) waiting to begin. The performers arrived led by male chanting which became overlaid with a feminine intonation. The sound was rich and when the violin began, it too had a fuller, somehow thicker sound than ‘traditional’ violin music, adding to the sense of grounding and earthiness.

The dancers veered from a zombie-like form writhing from the earth to freeze against a wall, a corpse-like woman laid out on a bier brought back to life by the joyful and nurturing ministrations of two more dancers to the very sensual, earthy belly dancing performed by the five women on precarious boxes atop the lumpy mud on the stage. The movement was interspersed with vocalisations, from the reo words for land, people, birthplace, home, to deep Middle Eastern chanting. The elements of the piece were diverse but they melded together in the mud with always a sense of moving upward from our roots while staying connected. The layers of art form in the work ensured fullness in the experience of it as a whole – the comforting rhythm of the potter’s wheel, the discordant violin and the movement fluctuating between nurturing and gentle, frenetic and sensual and comedic.

Although described as family-friendly, I wondered how the many children in the audience were finding the experience. As the dance escalated in frenzy – whirling dervishes sprang to mind – and became a hilarious mud-fight, the giggles that started erupting from that area of the seating were infectious. They were so hesitant to start with, looking around to see if they were supposed – or allowed – to laugh, until they were all laughing hilariously at the adults on the stage slinging mud at each other. There were a couple of disapproving adult faces near me but they looked a little self-conscious in their disapproval as well they should.

The work seemed to be underlaid with a commitment to the joy performance can bring, and from the perspective of someone who works in audience development, exposing children to the fun, surprise and novelty of performance art is fantastic – I’m convinced those children will be open to experiencing the arts in all its forms as they grow into adults. It taps into a primal instinct, I think, for curiosity, for knowing what anchors us, and for pursuit of joy and laughter.


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