Theatre of Speed

Keith Gallasch

Inside the Angel House (scheduled for a short season in November) is a new multimedia performance being developed by Theatre of Speed, a group of young performers with disabilities, as part of the Geelong-based Back to Back Theatre’s workshop program. The workshops, led by director Marcia Ferguson and animator/filmmaker Rhian Hinkley, are focused on the skill development in performance, improvisation, animation and photography. Just before he left with Back to Back for their European tour—he created the projected imagery that surrounded audience and players so powerfully in Soft—Hinkley wrote, “Theatre of Speed is an amazing opportunity to work with some of the most innovative and creative artists in Australia. The work that these guys create is unlike any other. I received a research grant from the Australia Council New Media Arts Board which has allowed me to spend more time with the group than I previously would have and to investigate the production of graphics and video that recreate Downs Syndrome…not as an actual representation of the syndrome, rather as an indication of the creative possibilities and benefits that genetic abnormalities can produce. The actors have had a chance to look at and use some great new technology which has been really exciting for all of us: a large Wacom tablet, a new G4 laptop, video projector, large screen TV, DVD players and burners. The actors take to new technology without any fear or preconceptions; this leads to really exciting levels of development that other groups don’t reach.

“The Wacom was really excellent for a number of reasons. Firstly, the actors loved the concept of being able to draw in multiple colours and with different brushes while using the same pen. Also the concept of filling areas in with a single click was something that really excited them. Another interesting element was the handwriting recognition with Wacom and OSX. This produced some really interesting translations and with a simple Applescript program I could make the computer translate their writings and then read it back in a number of voices.

“In producing the animations we used 2 processes. The first is hands-on, direct input and control by the actors. In this scenario the actors devise, create and animate the work. We did everything from basic cut-out and puppetry, from scratch animation directly on 16mm film to Flash from drawn animations. This produces raw and energetic pieces that are unpredictable and follow unique paths designated by the actors.

“The second process was to use myself as a tool and let the actors create works as directors or collaborators, giving them access to the full power of the technology. By directing me to make changes to their work or to create things for them we could work in 3D, and use software that is normally too complex to pick up within a short timespan. This resulted in works that have a slicker edge …but still retain the orginality of concept and direction.”

RealTime issue #57 Oct-Nov 2003 pg. 30

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 October 2003
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