A combination of intriguing new technology, individual voices of the public and contemporary dance, The Age I’m in is a unique representation of modern Australian society.
Produced by Force Majeure, an Australian dance and theatre company, The Age I’m In, playing at Place Des Arts, deals with generational age gaps. From the naive youth to the conservative octogenarian, this touring production has wide appeal. Montreal is only the the second stop on their three country tour.
The dim lighting in the small auditorium had the audience grumbling about having to search hard for their seats. However, when the show started there was not a single complaint as the innovative, unusual use of small hand held screens and well synced audio captured the audience’s attention and had everybody intrigued from the moment the lights dimmed completely.
The ten actors, ranging in age from 15 to 80 years old, walked slowly on stage. Picking up five small screens off the floor, each with a different image.
Each actor took turns introducing themselves, with prerecorded voices that did not associate themselves with the actors &- the men often lip synced to the voices of women and the voice of an innocent, but vocal, nine year-old boy was split between two or three actors.
The voices heard on the soundtrack are not those of the actors, but of average Australian residents who were handpicked by producer Kate Champion.
“We gave them $50 as an incentive [to participate],” said Champion of the voice-over work. After spending time with 80 people, Champion edited over 80 hours of interviews and cut them down to six minute segments for the show. Voices ranged from a nine year old boy to an elderly woman and touched on a variety of issues, including a controversial debate of whether religion has remained a spiritual act or become a political aspect of society.
With their backs to the audience, the actors used their arms to follow the soundtrack of voices. “Mmm, if I don’t go to Church each Sunday I feel bad,” said one of the voices as the actors raise their hands above their heads.
The hand held screens play a large role in the show. Whatever topic is being discussed appears on the screens which are incorporated into the fluid motion of the dance. The movement and the visual effects combined bring the show to a whole new dimension of motion, that is digitalized and fast paced.
When they first started rehearsing, the choreography, with the small monitors and lip syncing to the audio track, proved difficult for the dancers. Dancer Tilda Cobham Hervey, 15, said it was hard to remember when the weird pauses occurred as the tracks were edited to be choppy and “not the way people speak in real life,” she said.
However, after much practice, “it’s become like second nature…[the movements are] easy to remember now” said dancer Samuel Brent, 18.
The use of the small hand held monitors was to avoid any distraction from the dancers and to move the performance forward. Instead of having large projectors, Cobham said that they wanted the “people to be the main focus, not the set.” Though, according to Brent, the monitors easily weighed four to five kilograms and rarely worked without flaw. “We have back-ups for our back-ups,” he said laughing. The screens function through USBs that are plugged into the back.
Force Majeure was created in 2002 by performer, Kate Champion, now a retired performer, Roz Hervey and designer Geoff Cobham. The idea was to create more Australian work about Australia as they felt there were not enough performing companies creating local work.
The Age I’m In runs from Oct. 14 to 17 and Oct. 20 to 25. For tickets, call 514 842-2112. Tickets are $24.50 for those under the age of 30 and $35 for everyone else.
For more information about Force Majeure, go to www.forcemajeure.com.au
Australian dancers tour the world while still attending school
Tilda Cobham Hervey, 15, affectionately known as Tilly by the other cast members, is the youngest dancer in the company. Daughter of designer Geoff Cobham and retired performer Roz Hervey, Hervey started performing with Force Majeure when she was 12. She became interested in acting while attending circus school. From Adelaide, South Australia, Cobham Hervey somehow manages to find time to attend high school while touring the world with the show. “I’ve been around it all my life,” she said about how she deals with having to write assignments and pass all her classes while rehearsing day and night. “It’s an amazing experience,” she said. Cobham Hervey flew back to Australia on Sunday to continue her schooling. Another girl will be taking her place in the show in her absence.
Samuel Brent, 18, is from the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, New South Wales. Trained in ballroom dancing, Brent has worked for the company for two years. He got his start when his next door neighbor introduced him to producer and founder Kate Champion. Wanting to be an actor from a young age, Brent was involved in his school plays and took drama as a subject while going to circus school. Similarly to Cobham Hervey, Brent had to split his time between school work and rehearsal. “I’ve just finished the Higher School Certificate,” an important university entrance examination. The next day he flew down to Melbourne to continue rehearsal. Brent said he’s not sure what he wants to do after The Age I’m In, but knows he wants to continue performing.