Friday, February 08, 2008

Black Watch @ PIAF2008

I was lucky enough to be invited to a performance of Black Watch tonight at the Perth Convention Centre - a stunning piece of theatre.

The ensemble was slightly different from that in the video with the narrator in particular being some how more relaxed.

I really enjoyed the physical, almost dance-like aspect of the choreography. There are two scenes in particular where this is very effective - the fight and the letters.

The later - shown in part in the video - involved the actors entering the stage one-by-one and collecting a pile of letters from the hand of the man before him. They then search through the pile for their letter, open it and after a short time let it float to the ground.

Each starts performing what looks like sign language although it could just be gestural movements more akin to dance. What is interesting about this is the idea of coding. It creates a private sphere where a personal emotional moment is physically manifested but at the same time 'hidden' - ie. ignorance of the language on our behalf.

The detail of the introspection is abstracted in that the men themselves are completely ambigiously presented in stance and expression - ie. flat.

Any expression is quiet and it reminded me of the silent hand signals used to direct other soldiers - these actions being instead inwardly projected.

I was in a bird's eye seat and by the expressions of the faces on those at floor level it must be quite confronting that close.

Highly recommended although language WILL offend a lot of people (think Trainspotting ironically enough on speed) and the noise was occassionally overwhelming in volume. The explosions are also not for the weak hearted.

It runs through to February 17.

See the NTS website for more detail on the troupe.

29022008 Update: ABC's Sunday Arts looked at NTS and the video of the show is available to download from their site.

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