Tracks: new venue, new artists

Joanna Barrkman

Tracks, A Bowls Club Wedding

Tracks, A Bowls Club Wedding

Darwin audiences have been thrilled and uplifted by A Bowls Club Wedding, a recent production of TRACKS. Featuring the Grey Panthers, an older women’s performance group, this raucously amusing theatrical entrepot of song, dance and music enjoyed a sell-out season during the 2003 Darwin Festival. A Bowls Club Wedding successfully courted new audiences by using a local landmark as its venue–the historic Darwin Bowling Club. A humble example of 1960s architecture, this clubhouse has withstood the test of time, fashion and recent threats of development proposals. The undercover clubhouse patio provided the perfect setting for the quintessential Australian wedding function—including lewd telegrams, cocktail onions and a bouquet snatching flower girl—to transport the audience back to another time. The production used the adjacent bowling green as a counterpoint to the familiarity of the wedding reception antics. Flooded with light and choreographed to emphasise the grace of bowling, the green was used to depict the strategic bowling manoeuvers, intense club rivalry and in the case of the happy couple, the conquest of the heart over bowling club alliances!

A Bowls Club Wedding melded the polished performance talents of the Grey Panthers, with new and emerging Darwin dance artists, Joshua Mu, Julia Quinn, Mark Taopo and Byron Low. The pulse and verve of these young dancers juxtaposed with the grace and charm of the Grey Panthers created a work where dance, in various genres and forms, took centre stage.

From a spontaneous participatory audience round of the Pride of Erin to the unified glide of the Bridal Waltz by bride and groom (Audrey Gorring and Kevin Gould) all proceedings seemed well in hand. However, the happy couple was soon usurped by a lasciviously and technically adept tangoette performed by the self-absorbed flower girl (Julia Quinn) and debonair groomsman (Joshua Mu). Then, the pageboys turned proceedings upside down by dancing on tabletops, thrilling the audience with spins and gyrations as the wedding function lost all sense of decorum. Nonetheless the Grey Panthers made the point that they too can thrust, with bust and with dancers young enough to be their grandsons.

Dueling MCs gave some sense of order to the proceedings. Representing the Mindil Monitors—the bride’s club—was the taciturn Lori (Gail Evans). Officiating on behalf of the groom’s club—The Top End Terrors–was the bumptious Gil (Yoris Wilson). Throughout proceedings they vied for the “top” position with gags, putdowns and sly remarks threatening to overstep the competitive mark and destroy the newlyweds’ happy day.

It was the contrast between young and old–dance of the past and dance of present—that gave A Bowls Club Wedding its distinctive edge. With comedy and wit, different generations were united through the dance styles that mark their era, conveying the continuum of dance as a social form of expression and enjoyment. A Bowls Club Wedding was well received by Darwin audiences. The “dancing grannies” and “grunge ’n groove grandsons” made a potent cocktail that left its audience with a mellow afterglow.

A Bowls Club Wedding, TRACKS & the Grey Panthers, director & choreographer David McMicken & Tim Newth, Darwin Bowling Club, Aug 14-24

RealTime issue #57 Oct-Nov 2003 pg. 45

© Joanna Barrkman; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 October 2003