Stories of self at the heart of new Carriageworks performance piece

Off the Record performance. Image courtesy Force Majeure

Off the Record performance. Image courtesy Force Majeure

The question of how much we reveal of our hidden selves is at the heart of a new performance piece coming to Carriageworks from 17 to 20 August 2016.

Called Off the Record, the work is a creative collaboration between dance theatre company Force Majeure and Dance Integrated Australia that tells the semi-autobiographical stories of its performers.

“The work itself is a combination of spoken word and movement, and we’re using sound and quite a sculptured space to help tell these stories,” says Force Majeure’s Artistic Director Danielle Micich.

“It’s really about [asking]: how much of yourself do you expose in order to tell the world what you really want to say?”

The piece is a celebration of Force Majeure’s enduring interest in the lived experience, and Dance Integrated Australia’s commitment to inclusively engaging people with and without disability through dance.

It’s also the second commission supported by the NSW Government under the Carriageworks New Normal strategy. New Normal will fund 10 works by or including artists with disability over the next three years. The NSW Government’s contribution to Off the Record is part of a broader $2.4 million it has provided since 2012 to support people with disability to contribute to and participate in arts and culture in NSW. This includes funding to showcase work by NSW artists with disability across the performing arts, film and visual arts.

“It’s really about going beyond what we know already of accessible theatre in the sense that we’re making work for and with artists with disability, and also considering our audiences as well,” says Philip Channells, the founder of Dance Integrated Australia.

“I think that’s really part of the New Normal strategy, to make work that’s of a high standard and showcase that and be a role model to other companies and other artists across the country.”

Off the Record performance. Image courtesy Force Majeure

Off the Record performance. Image courtesy Force Majeure

In response, Off the Record has been designed to be accessible to a broad audience base. Various accessibility devices, such as captioning and Auslan interpretation, have been integrated into the work to become part of the stories themselves – a departure from more traditional approaches, where these devices are often external to the creative experience.

“We want to make sure that, whether or not you’re visually impaired or hearing impaired, you always have access to what’s happening on stage in a way that’s creatively embedded inside the work, [instead of being] tacked onto the side,” Micich says.

The emphasis on creativity is also reflected in the personal and professional diversity of the cast, whose individual stories form the backbone of the show – dancers Jana Castillo and Marnie Palomares, actor Gerard O’Dwyer, actor and disability advocate Alex Jones and actor and Auslan interpreter Neil Phipps come from a range of performing arts backgrounds and have had varying levels of training and professional experience.

According to Channells, the process of casting the show was about recognising the value in participants’ lived experience and translating that value on stage, rather than simply seeking out professional performance credentials.

“We found five quite amazing performers who have very, very different life experiences whose creative background cross dance, theatre and film” he says.

Off the Record runs from 17-20 August. Micich and Channells will also lead a masterclass on 13 August for people interested in learning more about the process of bringing such a complex work to life.

For further information about Off the Record please click here.


Off the Record is supported by the NSW Government through the Department of Family and Community Services and Arts NSW. 


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Published: 4 August 2016