Review: Extra Ordinary Folk (2018)

Photo credit: Maddy Powell

WHAT: Extra Ordinary Folk by Fidget Collective
WHERE: Corban Estate Arts Centre, Shed 1, Great North Road, Henderson
WHEN: 25-19 April 2018, 7.30pm

Ordinary everyday movement becomes absorbing art in Extra Ordinary Folk, presented by Fidget Collective and guests in the vast space of Corban Estate’s Shed 1. This mesmeric performance installation, collectively developed under the direction of Claire O’Neil, exploits the 30-metre long stage to great effect, providing for wonderful vistas that play with scale and enable strange juxtapositions of people and objects near and far.

The core performers are dancers and sound artists with rich experience in real-time composition, plus guest performers drawn from community dance groups. They wear an ever-changing array of tshirt bearing labels on the back referring to social roles.  These range from the every day to the less ordinary, such as Friend, Beneficiary, Life Model, Administrator, Home Owner, Head Girl, Data Entry Operator, Truancy Officer, Samaritan, Door Knocker. Though these roles are not played out, the labels remind us of the multiple roles each of us plays out in our own daily lives.

Zones of action are temporarily marked out on the floor with masking tape and orange hazard cones. Always on the move, the tape and cones are accompanied by a series of tables and chairs, plastic crates, a large potted plant and empty mirror frames on castors, one of which is limned in LEDs. These zones become rooms where meals are eaten, grooming occurs, work is done, families squabble, games are played, speeches are delivered, solitary quiet time is enjoyed.

Intriguing vignettes popup every once in a while. Aloalii Tapu conducts an auction for scarce fragments of now extremely collectible plastic chair. Tallulah Holy-Massey lounges restlessly in a chair as she contemplates her life. Rosie Tapsell delivers a bruising, pummeling massage to Solomon Holly-Massey. Zahra Killeen-Chance carries and juggles a stack of plastic crates. There’s a rambling collective soccer game, and a sudden outbreak of one-on-one aggression; there’s lots of toing and froing, and a megaphone countdown recurs.

Sound (Kristian Larsen and Jazmine Rose Phillips) and lighting (Sean Curham) are sparse, cleverly particular, and constantly changing to enliven specific interactions within the vast space of the stage. Kudos to the designers and to scenographer Stephen Bain for creating unobtrusive yet richly effective scenic effects.

You can sit, stand, follow the action around the stage perimeter, and even join in the action in a dance-along section, but mostly its am immersive experience which encourages you to take time out from whatever is on your mind, and enjoy watching strangely familiar, beautiful movement.

NB : a shortened version of this review was published in NZ Herald on 27 April 2018

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