Many shades of white

Diana Klaosen

An extraordinary collaboration between 2 major players in Tasmania’s contemporary cultural scene, is theatre ltd and CAST (Contemporary Art Services Tasmania), White Trash Medium Rare is a fusion of several art forms, a vehicle for some of the most ingenious and original artists working in the state. As well as attending performances, audiences could view illuminating open rehearsals and explore the set as an installation.

The performance asks what it is to be white and Anglo-Australian in the 21st century. Its extended title is “If Australia is the lucky country, how come we always cheat at sport?…A night of laughter to make you celebrate and question the place where you live.” Director Ryk Goddard leads a troupe of 8 performers as well as sound artists, dancers, actors, physical performers and visual artists working in hybrid technologies in a show devised by members of the is theatre company.

The audience enters the performance space to be interviewed and videoed before being seated. The space is the CAST gallery, dexterously converted with tiered seating along 2 walls and projection screens at either end, one serving as an entry point through which the performers access the ‘stage.’ Above the performance space is a grid from which athletic and acrobatic physical performance is woven into the show.

White Trash Medium Rare is a unique theatrical experience, a full-on onslaught of iconic Australian projected images, instantly recognisable and often amusing, evocative soundscapes, daredevil physicality and seamless vignettes portraying white Australians, including, movingly, the experience of post-World War 2 immigrants. Performers morph, frequently before our eyes, into archetypes and stereotypes of the white Australian experience, exploring the realities and quirks that make it what it is, accompanied by the fusion of media and artforms that characterise the piece.

The work is essentially unscripted and never the same 2 nights in a row. Working with so many different and skilled artists makes it “impossible to speak with one voice” about the show’s theme, says Goddard and no one voice can represent any group experience in this era. The result is a series of interpretations and experiences of what it means to be Australian. It rejoices in the fact that there is no singular, uniform version of living in this country, but many different and intricate ones.

One of is theatre ltd’s intentions is that the audience find the work as amusing, alarming, provoking and novel as the company found devising the work and examining white Australian selfhood and existence. They have achieved their aim of leaving viewers “thinking differently about how we live in this country” (Goddard).

White Trash Medium Rare, director Ryk Goddard; is theatre ltd and CAST (Contemporary Art Services Tasmania), CAST gallery, installation Oct 2-27, performances Oct 10-26, 2002

RealTime issue #53 Feb-March 2003 pg. 33

© Diana Klaosen; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 February 2003