Review of Brief Encounters Toowoomba
From the Brief Encounters at the Empire Theatre Facebook Page; a great review of the Brief Encounters project that I was a part of, which finished this Saturday weekend. By Amber Gwynne, Arts Writer.
Brief Encounters: lasting impressions
Once, in an interview, French painter Henri Matisse commented: ‘Creativity takes courage.’
Nothing could be truer for the twelve young artists handpicked to perform in the Empire Theatre’s inaugural production of Brief Encounters — a live collaborative project happily transplanted from the urban sprawl of British Columbia to the deceptive quiet of Toowoomba’s favourite theatre space.
Another production in the Empire’s sponsored Homegrown Series, Brief Encounters is as convincing as it is unlikely. The project, pioneered by The Tomorrow Collective in Vancouver, Canada, does not merely bring together a curious selection of artists in unusual combinations — it crashes them together… then applies the pressure. This particular formula demands that six couples, never before having collaborated, generate an original live performance with just two weeks up their sleeve, what the Collective tags ‘artistic blind date meets performance under the gun’.
Curator Jen Murray — a contemporary dance performer, teacher, and choreographer — has selected some of the region’s most diverse and promising young artists to entertain, captivate, and inspire audiences through art in action.
From the unexpected humour of Brodie Greenhalgh and Jesse Wright’s ‘heavy’ cardboard-box piece to the sublimely haunting finale with May Volp on grand piano and Damien Kamholtz visually mapping out the ‘space between us’ stage left, the impromptu ensemble demonstrates enormous maturity, dedication to craftsmanship, and freedom of ideas.
In this way, Brief Encounters is generous to both its participants and its audience. Artists are pushed to the outer limits of their creative courage; audience members to the edge of their seats. An acrobat with a percussionist? A textile artist with a musician?
This is a production that makes a lasting impression.
What must have been a logistical nightmare to accommodate (and a gut-lurching rollercoaster ride to prepare) unfurls in the performance space without a hitch — a credit to curator, staff and artists alike. The production can really only succeed with a significant investment of time and energy from every single person involved.
And succeed it does.
On its opening night, the Box Office ran out of tickets, the sales clerk hastily handwriting ‘Brief Encounters’ across the familiar strips of pink perforated card to hand to enthusiastic patrons.
At one point, I sat amid the hundred trembling lozenges of light thrown by a spinning disco ball and I felt, quite suddenly, that everything was OK in the world. After all, what could be more soul-affirming than to take my place among a group of individuals unified by curiosity and the love of art alone?
Brief Encounters will no doubt have far-reaching and ongoing implications for the Toowoomba arts scene.
Because, with each consecutive couple’s performance, something becomes increasingly obvious: there’s a lot happening in this city. A lot of ideas. A lot of talent. And a lot of love for the people who make it happen. It’s performances such as these that uphold the region’s position and role as a benefactor of the arts and an asylum for creative youth.
Brief Encounters runs again tomorrow night (Saturday, 24th August) from 7.00 pm.