The Professio(nah)ls

Te Auaha, Tapere Nui, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington

18/02/2022 - 23/02/2022

NZ Fringe Festival 2022

Production Details



So you want to be a professional, huh?! Well then you need to: Raise the bar! Pull the plug, bite the bullet, and up your game! Think outside the box and stay in your lane. Do another take. Time’s up! Grow a pair, because the ball’s in your court! Did you just say (nah)? Then get the hell out of my office!”

Navigating professionalism is a difficult task at the best of times. These idiots are way out of their depth as they try their hand at an office job for the first time. Chaos ensues as they try to comprehend how to exist when faced with an unforgiving and controlling work environment. 

Dance, dialogue, and laughter come together, telling a story that takes twists and turns resulting in arguments, bodies clashing, and the all-seeing boss taking control of the show.

The Professio(nah)ls combines Caspar and Otto’s curiosity for relevant topics with their shared sense (or rather non-sense) of humour. As a result of this, the two have assumed ‘Sincere Muckabouts’ as their company name.

This show aims to explore what it means to be professional through dance, dialogue and laughter.

Form

The Professio(nah)ls is a performance relying heavily on dance and physical theatre. The two performers take on characteristics of bouffant clowns lending the show comedic relief. Direct address and audience engagement are used to share secrets and create a rapport between performer and viewer.

Narrative

The narrative follows two characters who, through an inexplicable event, are forced to abandon their occupation as dancers and forge a new career. They decide to embark on an adventure into a world that they have never experienced before. An office job! Their complete and utter oblivion of what this profession entails becomes apparent very quickly.

“What’s a stapler for? Do I write something here? Taxes are best done whilst standing on top of the desk, right?”

The two of them persevere, but with no real idea of where they’re going, the journey takes twists and turns resulting in arguments, bodies clashing and the all-seeing boss taking control of the show. 

Themes

The Professio(nah)ls, at its core, is about professionalism.  Most professions come with certain expectations. Our two characters shift their position on these expectations throughout the work. They navigate feelings of conformity and individuality. All they really want to do is to muck about, but they understand that sometimes rules and regulations are necessary for a smooth operation. 

Internal struggle is expressed through dance, dialogue, light and sound – this work allows introspection into every profession.

Blurb  

“So you want to be a professional, huh?! Well then you need to: Raise the bar! Pull the plug, bite the bullet and up your game! Think outside the box and stay in your lane. Do another take.Time’s up! Grow a pair, because the ball’s in your court! Did you just say (nah)? Then get the hell out of my office!

Navigating professionalism is a difficult task, wouldn’t you say…”

Previous Season

This work was created in Te Whanganui a Tara in April 2021. It was developed at Toi Pōneke Arts Centre over a three-week-long development. The Professio(nah)ls has been performed before on the 7th & 8th May 2021, premiering at Little Andromeda Theatre in Christchurch: 

https://littleandromeda.co.nz/past-shows 

This Christchurch premiere served the purpose of exploring how The Professio(nah)ls would be received by an audience. This small-scale iteration acted as research in preparation for what will be a bigger season with a higher production value.

For Fringe Festival 2022, Sincere Muckabouts have put together a team consisting of two co-producers, a designer and a musician. With this team the work will undergo further creative and production development in order to help it reach its full potential on a bigger stage.

 
 
 



The Professio(nah)ls is an original physical theatre work by local Creatives Caspar Ilschner and Otto Kosok, with Music by Martin Greshoff, Design by Hollie Cohen, and Co-Produced by Monique Gilmour and Isaac Kirkwood.


 


 


Physical , Experimental dance , Dance-theatre , Commercial dance , Dance ,


Eerie and discombobulating

Review by Nancy Catherine Fulford 11th Jun 2022

Starting at the finish – A mad, whirling crescendo and then – at long last – a moment of stillness and utter quiet, though not for long. The applause from the audience was wildly enthusiastic and long lasting. And once that died down there were little bells of praise ringing all around me. That was amazing! I really enjoyed that. That was awesome! I loved it! It was so cool. When I enquired of my nearest neighbours what in particular had worked for them, ‘The set, plus, it’s just so good to have a laugh.’ I agree. In these times a laugh is worth a lot and there were plenty, big and little, ironic and sardonic, an enriching experience all up. As an audience member I was both captivated with the content and invigorated by the thinking it provoked.

There were three characters. They dressed handsomely, in matching blue suits with grey ties and no shoes. They created a world. A dreamscape of office life bursting at the seams with hamster wheel activities I never got tired of watching unfold in wild and weirdly quirky ways. The bold and playful choreography and inherent comic timing tickled me to the core. It was innovative, relational and deliciously larger than life. It had its own style but definitely lashings of Lecoq, a bonus from my perspective though my companion who had never seen anything like it left mystified more than anything. So not necessarily accessible for everyone, but pretty hard not to enjoy.

At the outset the stage is set with three ordered desks laden with office paraphernalia. Behind them is a wall of white boxes containing….

In strides our first character, the barefoot executive with a briefcase and the mannerisms of the self-important. He is officious and committed, getting straight down to his white-collar business while the sound track rises to offer a mix perfect for a journey down a long tunnel into deep space. It’s eerie and discombobulating. The character is acting normal but clearly something’s a foot. It took me a while to catch on that this character wasn’t just busy with his keyboard and paperclips. He had a synthesizer and provided music and percussion throughout from inside the drama. The soundscape was a really strong feature of the performance and I could go again just to listen to it. This character was our straight man and a clear foil for the next two. These dancer/actors excelled as bouffant clowns in a one up Marx brothers bonanza of imitation and competition. They gave me fresh eyes on all the different fun things we could actually be doing in the office workspace if we weren’t upright at out desks tap tap tapping and attempting to do what is asked of us.

As the piece progresses so too does the wall, coming closer and closer to us until… There are other powerful metaphors played out through objects in combination with standout character acting/dancing. For example the blue cord that leads to… best not to spoil surprises but that one really did hit me in the guts, the bottomless frustration of…. Sorry but you’ll have to go and see.

I felt really satisfied by the dancers innovative irreverence and the strength of their performance. It added irony, watching them move with that amount of physical commitment when it was so obviously nonsensical. I so appreciated being taken on a journey into the absolutely ridiculous given it seems now more than ever there are so many pockets of ‘the ridiculous’ that well deserve unpacking. Why do we do we willingly participate in potentially nonsensical rituals? With our postmodern, constructivist framing of self we can ask why and to what end we imitate and compete, as do the characters on stage. Is it sensible to do so or is it a reflex.

I loved this piece for asking me to reflect on my part in the compliance game. It was so obvious watching the office clowns just what a mess we can get ourselves into. In mirroring each other they mirrored out to us absurdity normalised. And we can pay a price for that in the view of French philosopher Voltaire who warned in the sixteenth century, ‘Those who can be convinced to participate in absurdities can be convinced to commit atrocities.’

In my view you should definitely try to catch this creative team any chance you get. This is the second time around for The Professio(nah)ls and what a good call it was to bring in Martin Greshoff as on-stage musician (doubling up as the austere auditor character) and Hollie Cohen who brought us a powerful lighting score, so beautifully syncronised with the drama as well as the inspired set design. These innovations went a long way in bringing in the cohesion and unity of ideas I believe the original two co-creators slash dancers were striving for. That’s Caspar Ilschner and Otto Kosok who brought us the two loveable laughable clowns who carried the show. They were so alive in their characters, their relationship with each other and us.

Hats off also to the producers, Isaac Kirkwood (who doubled as technician) and Monique Gilmour (who doubled as stage manager) plus lighting operator Amanda Joe and were all part of the hard working team bringing us fresh new work.

I really hope they bring the show back and get the audience they deserve which is all of us, both having a laugh and asking ourselves the hard questions.

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A cohesive bunch of ‘mess’ makers

Review by Lyne Pringle 20th Feb 2022

This work would go down well in the towers of Lambton Quay, pre Covid that is when offices were jam packed with people beavering away on their computer screens.

The PROFESSIO(NAH)LS – clever title – presented by Otto Kosok and Caspar Ilschner with music by Martin Greshoff, undercuts the notion of productivity with whiffs of ‘get a real job’ wafting through. 

Two dancers (Kosok and Ilschner),obviously out of their comfort zone, endeavour to navigate the demands of an ‘office job’. Their awkwardness is palpable whilst Martin Greshoff, on augmented keyboards conjures a gem of a soundtrack – he holds the show together. They all have a likeable and charmingly naïve stage presence. 

The business of busyness is torn apart in absurdist fashion by a fresh company aptly named the Sincere Muckabouts. Their work does indeed present as a series of muckabouts with sincere intentions,. 
The whole ‘ness’- ness of ness – productive(ness), KPIS, Outputs, Deadlines, profession(nah)lism-ness, the whole busi(ness) of  the ‘ness’ dismantled into a quirky mess. Kudos to designer, Hollie Cohen and producers Monique Gilmour and Issac Kirkwood.

Delving into the zone of slapstick absurdist comedy is a brave move and there are delightful moments when the audience really gets the joke. A caffeine fuelled frenzy from Ilschner and a painfully self-conscious attempt at a ‘presentation’ by Kosok. Greshoff’s turn as an output auditor at the top of the food chain is strong. 
Sincere Muckabouts could strengthen the theatrical aspects of their work: comic timing, clowning, feeling the beat, sharpening the overall rhythm, pace and arc and allowing a connection with an audience to build, will yield riches. Perhaps seeking input from an insightful director with an astute eye, would enable this.

Part way through a wall of boxes collapses at the back of the stage. This dropping away of a façade is reminiscent of Pina Bausch’s Palermo Palermo, however the piece loses pace from this point on with a flabby repeating scene.

In the final stages boxes are re-configured and the whole perspective shifts.  Kosok and Ilschner sluff off any pretence and dance amidst the detritus of their creative process.  A one eyed character reminiscent of the, un PC, ‘Fat Controller’ slouches in a chair watching their efforts. The projections, which have cleverly augmented the action throughout, are powerful here.

This, for the most part, engaging work flips a playful, in no way caustic, bird to the trope ‘get a real job’. It questions the restraints, tensions and expectations of many jobs and makes a case for the importance of artistic expression.
The Sincere Muckabouts crew are a cohesive bunch of ‘mess’ makers. There are glimmerings of a robust and unique modus operandi.

Trusting their place on stage will enable a lift in performance and delivery to match the concepts behind their work. 

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