Wednesday, August 12 2015

What does theatre leave behind?

Artistic Director's Notes, Gecko News Archive
Matt Edgerton from  Barking Gecko's Instagram

I’ve been back in Perth for a week, getting to know an extraordinary group of people that make theatre here at Barking Gecko. It would be a massive understatement to say that I’m excited to be here.

And in my first week as Artistic Director I’ve been thinking a lot about what theatre leaves behind.

The closing night of a play always gives me a strange sense of vertigo. With every word and gesture I feel our carefully-built world falling away until there’s nothing left on stage. The world that has taken months of meticulous work to create vanishes. What is left is unscrewed and packed away in hours. All of us who work in the theatre know this feeling – it’s an ephemeral artform, a ball of energy that is there for a moment and then gone. But what happens to all of that energy, all of that passion, all of that belief when a production ceases to exist?

This film clip of the company’s past productions is seriously beautiful. Joy, our longest serving staff member, cried when she watched it and Joy doesn’t cry very easily! As incoming Artistic Director, this clip reminds me of the decades of humanity and passion that have been poured into the ever-changing, chaotic, beautiful organism that is Barking Gecko. Directors planning, actors stressing and finessing, audiences humming with attentive energy.

In my first week here, I’ve been fortunate enough to speak with a number past and present artists from Barking Gecko – some of the many creative giants that have come before me. I’ve heard stories of wonderful works of art that have existed for a moment and are now seemingly gone – living on as a shadow: a fragment of video, a photograph or a poster.

Except that they’re not gone. A theatre show doesn’t ever really disappear.

Our legacy from the last thirty years, and the next, won’t live in the digital records of the shows. What theatre truly leaves behind lives in the body. Because great theatre changes us. Great theatre is a call to action: a call for our audience to question their choices and embrace a different and more creative life. To be curious. To be playful. To feel empathy for those around them. This is the heart of what I want for Barking Gecko.

I can’t wait to begin.