Due to its unique and somewhat provocative nature, and very limited number of tickets, Lone is likely to be a difficult to catch during its short season at Arts House.
This work is partly a legacy of Clare Watson, the previous artistic director of St Martins, who commissioned The Rabble (Emma Valente and Kate Davis) to create and develop it in conjunction with young theatre makers from St Martins Youth Theatre. Lone, about being alone/lonely, is clearly described as work for an adult audience and is part of St Martins thrust to create ‘Art’.
In each of eleven small rooms, the size of a garden shed, one of eleven child performers and one audience member experience around 30 minutes together.
When I entered the small space, as the light within in went on, I wondered where to place myself - feeling cumbersome and awkward and wanting what would be most conducive for the young actor lying, as if asleep, on the floor. I sat on the stool by the door not wanting to create discomfort by invading personal space. I hoped I was being an appropriately supportive audience and was close enough to engage. I had been told all the girls (and hopefully boys as well) had a whistle around their necks and a healthy number of support persons were hovering around the performance spaces - in the unlikely event of assistance being required.
Everything is white. The child is surrounded by white flowers – both on the floor and hanging around the small space. Delicately with committed focused concentration she works with the flowers and other accouterments and finally makes a spell to work magic that invokes colour. Subsequently she talks about individual taste and her sense of isolation due to contrasting preferences.
We communicate on a small note pad with a black texta, partly, I guess, because I’m wearing headphones which envelop me in ambient sound. It is a lovely light interaction. Ultimately the child leaves me ‘a-lone’ in the room - to meditate on the experience? Charmingly and politely she utters “It was nice to meet you,” as she departs.
The gentle sensory aspects of the experience remind me of the workshop I had done last year with the UK troupe Bamboozle at the Melbourne Arts Centre. They work with children who have disabilities, so there performances are intimate, sensory and tactile.
This comparison leaves me thinking - I would love to know how children would enjoy being entertained by their contemporaries. And having worked extensively with children and drama I am very aware of just how clever and fascinating they can be as creators and performers. When encouraged, they can have this marvelous sense of self and self-assurance. Often the trickiest thing is getting them to forget their own fabulous ideas and engage genuinely with the ideas of others and be critical and supportive audiences to each other.
Lone is an exhilarating, heady and heartening work that portends well for St Martins’ current exciting trajectory.
Producer - Tahni Froudist
Production Managers - Rebecca Etchell &Gwen Gilchrist
Stage Manager - Cassandra Fumi
Performers, Creators & Designers
Clea Carney, Abigail Fisher, Ashanti Joy, Remy Lawlor, Ave Maui, Lola Morgan, Griffin Murray-Johnston, Raven Okello, Jackson Reid, Thomas Taylor & Frankie Wilcox.
Photographer: Bryony Jackson