reading light / illuminating texts
| Lighting design
realised by :
||John Cage and
Lamb arranged by Brett Collery
|Performed by :
This work was funded by Queensland University of Technology
Creative Arts and Design Grant.
reading Light / illuminating texts
Devised and directed by John Utans.
The Gardens Theatre, QUT Brisbane.
Reviewed by Shaaron Boughen, The Australian.
This work has two major themes. Firstly to collaborate,
from inception with a lighting designer. David Whitworth
and I had worked together on numerous occasions in the
standard practice of the designer coming to the work
towards the end of a rehearsal process and simply lighting
what has been created.
We worked together by David describing what he wanted
to explore and I then worked around that. The piece
was made up of 10 five-minute scenes, or 'chapters'.
We alternated in who started out with the idea for each
The other theme was one of 'interpretation'. A constant
thread throughout all my work. Playing with ideas of
making dance without a story but knowing that the audience
will mostly want to read into it, to find the narrative,
the meaning. I attempted to highten that experience
by constantly juxtaposing some very 'loaded' images
throughout the work and placing titles to the chapters.
(The projected text into the space) All in all, I was
exploring structures and patterns in movement and the
dancers relationships to the light or the lack of it,
the space and the music.
The Australian, November 1999.
"There are no facts, only interpretations"
is blazoned across the sidewall in the auditorium. John
Utans revels in ambiguity and he challenges us immediately
with this declaration. At the risk of denying the director
his opening gambit, I am going to assert a number of
facts about reading light.
Fact 1: There are many performers in this work, a lighting
tower, a film clip, 2 slide projectors, 2 technical
crew, 3 dancers and 200 lights - all visible on the
open stage. Lighting designer David Whitworth not only
creates a playground for the performance of bodies in
the space, but proudly exposes his lanterns and flaunts
their brilliance. They turn from beacons into landing
lights, from searchlights on a tower to washes of liquid
honey. They cage the dancers, trapping them with cool,
clean, clinical precision then they release them as
light spills out and into the auditorium.
Fact 2: The dancers Tim Davey, Fiona Malone and Delia
Silvan are all stunning - articulate, in control, quietly
flamboyant, masters in their language. Malone has a
mature elegance in her performance, moulding the light
and shifting the density of the air whilst Davey is
naked and restrained and Silvan defined and explicit.
Utans like to play with movement like a child with Leggo,
in this instance Cunningham's reference library of isolated
body moves and unusual co-ordination of body parts.
Phrases are fluid or broken, or repeated and reconstructed
into another moment, forcing attention to the quality
and shape of the movement. The more dance literate you
are, the more layers of subtlety emerge.
Fact 3: John Cage is alive and well and still working
after all these years - at least his music is! Brett
Collery has arranged a large selection of Cage's repertoire
with touches of Lamb and Gorecki thrown in for good
measure. The kissing of lips reflects in hips, keeping
the dialogue alive between the sound, the body and the
Fact 4: Utans and his collaborators have created a
microcosm of life through a wandering indeterminate
narrative. Text is projected as chapter headings which
punctuate the space and leave us with tantalising crumbs
of information - he entered the room and left an impression
or it appeared to disappear. The material, so abstract
in form becomes a fractured moment of a displaced memory
or a silent clap to a failed relationship.
But then none of these might be facts at all. Perhaps,
if Utans is right, they are only interpretations
This work is available for future performances.
For further information, publicity, development and
technical details please contact John Utans.