Your Body is a Battleground

Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington

03/12/2014 - 13/11/2014

Production Details


Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Center

11 Hutchinson Road, Newtown


 December 3-6 &11-13


all performances begin at 7:00

Tickets  $15.00 -$10.00

Book @

Performers: Susie Barry, Jacob Edmonds, Roymata Holmes, Amelia McCarthy, Felix Sampson, Eliza Sanders, Mark Semple, Laura Stephens

Design by Te Aihe Butler, Alexandra Guillot, Owen McCarthy

Directed  by John Butterfield

Production Manager: Ruth Love,

Stage and Technical Manager: Jay Hadfield


90 mins

A thought provoking 50 minutes

Review by Lyne Pringle 05th Dec 2014

This is a pulchritudinous gem. Well crafted, well executed, well designed, lean and to the point, mostly. Your body is a battle ground.  Whose body? All of us?  Some of us? Are none of us comfortable in our own skin? An exhibition, in the entrance way to the theatre space, states Director, John Butterfield’s intention: to interrogate the notion of gender as a simple binary. This is clear but the work does meander into other themes. Another question is posed – what do you desire?

The title of the work is surely borrowed from artist activist Diane Kruger’s famous slogan that branded the pro-choice and feminist movements of the late 1980’s. So, is the work a thesis on the porousness of gender or is it a feminist treatise?  Can it be both at the same time? Not sure, but the nature of the work and the skill with which it is delivered makes me happy to go along for a thought provoking 50 minutes.

The piece orbits around a central story.  One of the performers (consummate but unknown to me) has a transgender brother. The initial delivery through movement reminiscent of sign language and text is a sophisticated; a successful integration of two different languages – no mean feat, the work really lifts off here.  We revisit the same story throughout the evening, it is less successful in the closing scenes when the text becomes laboured and the movement of the chorus back and forth becomes distracting.

There are many standout moments, propelled by articulate movement and text. Performers are required to move and to talk and they meet this challenge with compelling honesty.

The detail in the design is absorbing:  dotted lines on skin and clothes, wispy material suggestive of layers that can be sloughed and shifted; simple lighting and clever use of a projector; and a very sympathetic sound score.

Choreographically the work is inventive and for the most succinct. These elegant movers feel into the possibilities of each other’s auras, pushing at the boundaries of stereotypes, conditioning and acceptability. They pose physical questions to each other and to the audience; expressing tension, fear, frustration, confusion and surrender.

Bodies are compiled and dismantled in humorous and poignant vignettes. They dance a touchless waltz and grapple with the lack of acceptable ‘platonic touch’ in our culture – mudras of longing create very powerful images and words – ‘soft of the hard gaze’ ‘simple streamlined, dangerous’.

Drama One is such a silky space to view the work and John Butterfield has done a brilliant job of co-opting his team of fine performers and designers into an over-arching s aesthetic skin in order to serve the purposes of his Masters thesis.  There is a sense that the work has been developed over time with a careful attention to detail and consideration given to shared authorship in the process.

The team are: (Performers) Amelia McCarthy, Eliza Sanders, Felix Sampson. Mark Semple, Jacob Edmonds, Laura Beanland-Stephens, Roymata Holmes, Susie Berry; (Spatial Design) Owen Mcarthy; (Costume Design) Alexandra Guillot; (Sound Design) Te Aihe Butler; (Additional text) Jonathon Power; (Production support) Georgia Pope, Hayley Douglas, Ruth Love, Jay Hadfield.  


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