Exquisite: An intercultural encounter with grief
Original Creative Work
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
Exquisite began in 2012 with the renewal of a collaboration between myself and architect/designer Rachel Konyi after I returned to Australia from London. We conducted a series of design-led experimentations about the body in dialogue with materials that produced both abstract and figurative imagery that intrigued us. Some of those suggested the theme of grieving, specifically the ‘exquisite’ beauty of grief and the physicality of grieving. We brought dramaturg Kathryn Kelly on board the following year and have been building the show gradually in short, annual intensive creative developments thanks to initial support from Ausdance Queensland and Metro Arts.
As part of the creative process, we conducted community engagement workshops that developed the important role of the chorus in this production. These provided an opportunity to bring together performers and non-performers. The gestural and written responses of all those we have worked with helped enrich the world of Exquisite.
New collaborators arrived at each stage of the process as we gathered around us the incredible team responsible for bringing this work to fruition including: award-winning composer and Jazz musician Mace Francis, Chinese water sleeve dancer Min Zhu, renowned performance-maker Brian Lucas, lighting design wizard Andrew Meadows, and our producer extraordinaire Jo Thomas. Behind the scenes our meticulous production team do the invisible work that makes theatre possible. It has been such a joy to witness the level of heart, soul and craft that each person brings to this work.
In making Exquisite our intention was to create a place for us to dwell together and to contemplate grief, the pain we would not be without, the burden we lovingly carry. Our hope was to honour the intensely felt, delicate and sharp beauty of grief. We were mining for the gestural remnants of grief, both in public ritual and in private moments. In weaving together music, design, and gestural choreography we sought ways to move beyond the easy ‘narratives’ or ‘platitudes’ about grief to honour exquisite grieving, the shadow-side of love.
CAST, CREATIVES, CREW
CONCEPT BY FRANCES BARBE AND RACHEL KONYI
DIRECTOR / FRANCES BARBE
DESIGNER / RACHEL KONYI
DRAMATURG / KATHRYN KELLY
COMPOSER AND MUSICIAN / MACE FRANCIS
PERFORMED AND CO-DEVISED BY / BRIAN LUCAS, MIN ZHU AND FRANCES BARBE
UNDERSTUDIES TO SOLOISTS / NICOLE HARVEY AND INDIANA COLE
LIGHTING DESIGNER / ANDREW MEADOWS
PARADE OF THE BROKEN-HEARTED / ALEX BEARD, RAVENNA BOUCKAERT, INDIANA COOLE, LYN DOWLING, NICOLE HARVEY, OLIVIA MOY, DERICK SMITH, RILEY SPADARO, PHOEBE SULLIVAN PARADE
LIVE BAND MUSICIANS / SHANNON MARSHALL - TRUMPET, MACE FRANCIS - BARITONE HORN, JAMES BROWN - SNARE DRUM
RECORDED MUSICIANS FINAL SCENE / MATT SMITH - TRUMPET, BEN COLLINS - TENOR SAX, BLAKE PHILLIPS - TROMBONE, KANE SHAW - BASS, LIAM HICKEY - DRUMS
PRODUCER / JO THOMAS
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR / MADELEINE LEWIS
PRODUCTION MANAGER / DANIEL ENDICOTT
STAGE MANAGER / ARIANA O’BRIEN
SOUND TECHNICIAN / WIL HUGHES
HEAD LX / EMMA HEALY
WARDROBE MANAGER / MELISSA ETTLER
VISUAL CONSULTANT - SET / MAJELLA BARBE
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER / LOUIS SPENCER