NYID's high octave realism

Peta Tait: nyid, Scenes of the beginning from the end

Tony Briggs, nyid, Scenes of the beginning from the End

Tony Briggs, nyid, Scenes of the beginning from the End

Tony Briggs, nyid, Scenes of the beginning from the End

In the beginning, slow moving bodies silhouetted against footage of fast moving roads. Compelling and beautiful athletic bodies but crouched; they are not yet human and definitely not yet car. Are we going to or coming from (looking back at) a landscape of orange dust, blue sky, cloudy green river water and sand? The roads lead to all-grey cityscapes, then a suburban street with colour, from a red car and a blue car, as if these have stolen colour, driving out through the landscape and bringing it back. I loved the sensory wash.

At the end the audience was divided; one half allocated name tag messages by a ubiquitous corporate security company and videoed for the other half to watch. The show ends (or begins) with scenes of bodily confinement, surveillance and a street intersection filmed from panoptic video cameras. Scenes of the beginning from the end consists of intersections of live bodies and filmed (e)scapes, physical talk and verbal football; cars as cultural fantasies of freedom set against fears of social monitoring. Echoes of Foucaultian regimes but not punishing dismemberment in this Australia. Performed in Melbourne’s Public Office car park, NYID’s show becomes high-octave realism as the remaining parked cars are driven out during the performance. The soundsc(r)ape of cars parking, electronic pips, feet pounding.

Fleshed bodies, motionless, breathing audibly, and intermittent hisses and pips from the bush, intersect with grumbling cars that mutate into the traffic of continual electronic noise. Three cars star–a white panel van, a green Torana LX 1976 coupe with the mega-sound system and a gold Renault. They resonate cultural difference if not clashes. Safety regulations aside, I want these metal bodies to move around us, to perform, as cars do in circus rings.

NYID successfully recycles the grand contemporary performance traditions of moving the audience around, car parks as performance spaces, and directed spectator participation intersecting here with television studio audiences. What failed to interest this spectator, however, were most of the spoken dialogues about life in suburbia, which remained like workshop exercises from 1970s Australian drama without 1990s irony. Why were these scenes not delivered as body texts? NYID’s bodies in motion are skilled, dynamic and captivating. Admittedly, feet pounding unforgiving concrete surfaces is a reminder that too much movement in spaces designed for other body-types wrecks fleshed bones.

There is wit to be found though with a potent, playful televised sequence of dialogue as if it taken from Neighbours, performed in English by Kha Tran Viet and Yumi Umiumare (as Charlene)–instantly recognisable to the younger audience members around me–and then repeated in Vietnamese. This provides the harbinger of the show’s last sequence about televisual simulations that reflect back falsely; a reminder that screen images speed over live realities and their collisions.

Not Yet It’s Difficult, Scenes of the beginning from the end, director David Pledger, dramaturg Peter Eckersall, producer Paul Jackson, performers Paul Bongiovanni, Greg Ulfan, Tamara Saulwick, Louise Taube, Tony Briggs, Natalie Cursio, Cazerine Barry, Public Office car park, March 20

RealTime issue #43 June-July 2001 pg. 31

© Peta Tait; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 June 2001