INSITE Arts is committed to commissioning works for young audiences by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists centred around Aboriginal story and identity.
Adelaide-based director Jason Cross said Saltbush, a contemporary piece of dance theatre for young audiences and their families exploring the Aboriginal story, was part of that commitment.
“It was made in collaboration with an Italian company called TPO which is dedicated to creating works for young audiences, working with projected image and sensory technology like the Kinect technology Sony used for Xbox,” Cross said.
“Some of that technology has been used in Saltbush, where 40 different oil paintings by artist Delwyn Mannix formed a storyboard or treatment for the show. TPO in Europe took them and helped create a narrative.”
The cast of three performers work closely with a technician whose role is much like a conductor, mixing and matching the live and recorded technology with information picked up by the sensors on stage.
Cross said the interactivity between performer and technician constantly changed, likewise for the children in the audience who were encouraged to interact.
“It invites young people to participate in the work, just like Xbox did with Kinect and with gaming; it seeks that participation by young people to take ownership of the space,” he said.
The production follows a journey of two friends from different Aboriginal backgrounds as they travel across Australia on foot.
Cross said it was inspired by the impossible notion of a young person being able to walk through 30 different Aboriginal countries 200 to 300 years ago.
“Not just because of the landscape but you need to speak all the dialects and know all the rituals to get through those countries; it would be quite the challenge,” he said.
“It’s also based on the notion that Aboriginality doesn’t identify as one particular story or one particular identity or one particular skin colour and there is diversity within our country.
“We still mythologise what I think now are these bizarre stereotypes of what being Aboriginal is; it’s so diverse, but unfortunately politically it’s been stereotyped.
“What’s so rewarding about the experience is that there’s a level of honesty in the work the performers share with the child and the parent or older person with them that talks about the fact that whilst the Australian landscape is ancient and has these amazing stories, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of it. You shouldn’t feel that you’ve been alienated from it and it’s something to be shared.”
Saltbush is presented at Studio Underground by Barking Gecko Theatre Company and is recommended for ages four years and older.
Where: Studio Underground
When: July 12 to 14