When I enter the space- not through the usual entrance there is a steady dark drone that growls its throaty hum. Performers walk in the space- three walk slowly along the tops of antique pianos- another welcomes me at the door- another has a goldfish bowl with the sacred undergarment he asks me to respect- another asks me to show her my underwear- another is dragging bodies onto the floor and undressing the ensemble down to their underwear. Light spills lazilly over the bodies slumped in the semi-dark allowing each occasional detail to be amplified- the glint of a toe ring- the curl of a tattoo on a rested foot…

There is one thing for certain- when you go to see a show at PACT– it will be nothing like what you expect- even when you are expecting the unexepected… expect an organism; a city; a culture built on unwantedness and undergarments. Alot of undergarments.

In previous years I have seen a number of shows- involving the smashing of watermelons, slender men in ugly bridesmaids dresses, and many of the PACT ensemble alumni have gone on to do some interesting things- Jenny Leong ran as The Greens representative for the Newtown area in the last election, TK Pok is best known for his work with TANK MAN TANGO
Alison Richardson who works with Milk Crate Theatre… this is where the creators of culture and the innovators explore and experiment.

The imPACT Ensemble trains every week for a good six-month portion of the year- developing skills and a line of aesthetic enquiry which draws from multiple performance practice. Since 2002 135 pariticpants have been through the program… no mean feat in an era of “drop in classes”. This is a tight and unique ensemble- advertised as an ensemble on postcards and on fliers. The aims of this development program is to encourage artists to develop their own independent practice- based on a foundation of movement, vocal training and a series of improvisation.

Devising the work starting from the concept of “Unwantedness” with the Ensemble, Michal Imielski has crafted a wonderfully bizarre theatrical experience bookended by some of the most exquisite ensemble work I have seen of any company of emerging artists. Michael Imielski is a director, composer, filmmaker, magician and performer- which is a perfect blend of pracitcal and magical, visual and aural and it seeps through every movement in the three part performance. There is a cheeky dark confidece to this work and it is interesting to note he has worked with some fantastically brave and experimental artists- for example- Barry Kosky, Phillippe Genty (Paris) and Christoph Schlingensief (Germany).

The ideas are honed with a muscular elegance which swings between individual/solo performance work and ensemble explorations. It is so easy with this type of work to ignore the audience- or to be aloof from the audience – or to present work in a smug self serving way so that the audience is alienated and bored…. and Imielski and the imPACT ensemble have taken the road less travelled and have produced a full evening of performance which is funny, unique and completely unexpected.

A complex multilayered presentation of ideas – memory – a fully explained and installed scientific presentation, belonging – in dynamic ensemble work, ritual– the invented, the taboo and the permissable, the prophetic, the enslaved, the superficial… a complete city made of market stalls… a complete logic to the banal things and rituals of society…
and you must absolutely make sure you bring your sense of adventure and humour with you- this is not for the passive spectator- and not for the crossed-arms occassionally sleeping punter- this is highly cheeky and very interactive- make sure you wear your underwear.

Congratulations to PACT, Imielski, Aaron Clarke and the 2009 imPACT Ensemble- this was a truly unique experience- and I will never regard of discarded undies by the side of the road in the same way ever again…. and I thoroughly recommend that Andrew Upton check out what this Ensemble is capable of- just as a point of reference.

created and performed by the 2009 imPACT Ensemble
direction and sound design by Michal Imielski
when 8pm Wednesday – Saturday November 25 to December 12
where PACT 107 Railway Parade Erskineville
how much Full $20 Conc $15 at the door bookings essential via