Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Dunstan Playhouse. 14 Jun 2017
The most primal thing of all linking us as human beings is that out of earshot beat we know as a pulse, the heartbeat. We don’t consciously think about or even mark its presence unless we focus on it.
Director, Kate Denborough has taken this unconscious everyday reality and fashioned from it a work of extraordinary complexity exploring how the beat within, becomes expressed without; in motion, sound, silence and vision.
As a production title, Out of Earshot makes clear its emphasis is on that which cannot be, or is not, easily heard. It’s very much a work crossing the boundaries in terms of audience reception; deaf and hearing impaired most especially, for whom this work will greatly appeal.
Denborough's synthesis of sound, light and movement is firmly founded on the deft, richly powerful Jazz percussive prowess of Myele Manzanza.
Manzanza is the lighting rod, or touchstone through which designers Paul Jackson, Stephen Hawker and James Paul’s minimal, yet uber high tech, set, utilising motion sensitive floor technology, ‘speaks.’ Three large oblong LED monitors project lighting schemes sparked by the beat of drum, human feet, and hands.
As choreography progresses from the simple warm expression of Manzanza playing a tattoo on a dancer’s body, mimicking the human pulse, to dancers encompassing the whole stage in response to broader, wilder, more complex drum kit thrashed rhythms, questions quietly cross the mind.
When Manzanza air-plays the sticks, whilst the dance continues and the monitor flash of heartbeat projection stops, what’s really being communicated here? Is the beat still there? More potently, the phrase in which dancer Gerard Van Dyck reacts as if struck and reshaped by Manzanza’s whip and strike of a drum stick begs the question, is this out of earshot beat more emotionally powerful than any other sense?
This particular question is significant to this writer who, like ensemble dancer Anna Seymour, is profoundly deaf. Had I turned my hearing aids off, what might have been the difference in my perception of the beat, the force, the energy and the communication?
For communication is the subtle ‘under the hood’ heart to the work. Sound is seen. Beat is seen and felt. Somehow this is a kind of ‘heard’ experience.
Out of Earshot is a special gift, not to be missed, to be pondered deeply long after.
When: 14 and 15 Jun
Where: Dunstan Playhouse