Stage Juice is a bright young performance collective lead by artistic Director and performer Katy Green and In the Shadows is the debut production (from what I gather) of this new collective.

Devised work is not really my forte: I am into text based performance, I am fascinated by words more than images, and until early last year I had always tried to avoid dance, and movement pieces. Perhaps it was the huge dosage the Centre of Performance Studies administered to me during my degree: Bodyweather, Kinetic Energy Theatre company, Performance Space etc: regardless, I openly admit I am not one to seek out this performance style. However, when invited I will gleefully attend.

According to their mission statement:
“stagejuice are a Sydney based collaboration who construct performance to investigate significant contemporary issues in literal, imaginative and abstract ways. Fusing live performance, video media and sound to sculpt such concept-driven work, each piece is delivered with purpose, vigour and sensitivity. stagejuice are inquisitive company that is always seeking new challenges and satisfying fresh curiosities.”

The audience is greeted with a white/opaque/plastic/perspex semicircle, as the sound design starts (by Tom Hogan), and clustered nestled televisions flicker (designed by Sasha Cohen) in an impresively lit space (Marc Chee). Three levels of scaffolding seating face the performance space, as a performer with a diamond shaped mirror examines the audience. It starts…

What I understood of the performance is largely based on what I perceived as contrasts and therefore implied conflict. There were conflicts between being bound and having freedom, between shaddow and actuality, between onstage and back stage, between synchonicity and syncopation. I believe these are not new ideas, after all Plato wrote/spoke extensively on the world of aesthetics: the journey from one point, to the ultimate resolution… that art is a departure which requires the return to structure to be “satisfying”. The journey in In the Shadows is just that: the journey from disperate to connected, from syncopated to synchronised. How this happens… is an experience I won’t describe: because the act of watching can only do this justice.

Also something that is not new is multi-media. Installations, dance, cross media performance is not new: though it is niche. This performance could perceivably be found at carriageworks, at the performance space of yore and has a very suitable home at PACT which lends its culture and architectural aesthetic to this type of devised multimedia performance.

There are some beautiful moments by performers (Katy Green, Kylie Dennis-Calleja, David Buckley & Gideon Payten-Griffiths), in which the performers have found a great amount of enjoyment: infact, I would say “bliss” in creating and exploring their form, bodies and visual vignettes. And I , in my need of narrative piece it together, make a story. Whether this is or is not the purpose of the performance will never be known: and should it be? We shall return to the 1968 essay concerning Roland Barthes’ “Death of the Author?” The “Author” in this case being the audience?

A spectacular sound design and some interesting and simple visual ideas abound… the performers are agile and lithe and committed to their work, however I wondered why, after entrancing us to accept the physical and spatial aspects of the performance, why did the performers speak? After such a magnificent display, their voices dwarfed by the preceeding soundscape, the words seem garbled and flimsy in comparison to their strength in action. I wasn’t really sure then, what the piece meant. I was hoping that performers would feel confident in their image making: and having survived so long without voice or words, to leave it at that. Surely if you believe in the visual it will speak loudly for you?

This is an ambitious, bold and complex work by a group of clearly dedicated and strong performers: I recommend it for all performance makers, who enjoy devised multimedia work, and have a fascination wit movement and physical theatre. And I will be watching to see what and where Stage Juice appears next. I urge you to turn off your inane blabbering television, leave your loungerooms, and completely surrender to the curiousity and challenge of In The Shadows… and it is only playing a minute season at PACT Theatre.

Thu 30 April – Sat 2 May at 8pm; Sun 3 May at 6pm
$12 conc, $15 adult
PACT Theatre, Erskineville

Conceived, designed and created by
stagejuice performance collective
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