Pearce (center) balances above the audience as company member Jacob Randell
(left) assists her from below.
Credit: Maike Schulz
and Other Myths:
By R Pikser
Space is the second
production of the group Gravity and Other Myths. We can only hope the first
production, and many more, come to New York.
unforgiving. Either the performers can do the tricks or they cannot. Some
tricks are harder than others and some acrobats are more skilled than others.
That much is always obvious. What is not obvious is the choice to allow the
audience to perceive the process of construction and to watch the development
of one part of the show into another. Something else that is not obvious is to
allow the audience to see and to participate in the intimacy that working
physically with others engenders, even more so when that physical work is
dangerous. This attention to process and to audience integration, and the
willingness to be open, are evident in the performance of A Simple Space,
even if one never reads the program notes by the co–creators of this young
Australian company. These goals of the creators and the performers give A
Simple Space a very different feeling from most acrobatic performances,
which are generally focused on dazzling, not including, the audience.
Credit: Maike Schulz
Colorful balls from a previous scene line the floor as company members balance
on top of one another.
space for this production is, as the name of the show says, simple. The floor
is covered with a furry black carpet and four slender poles with small,
intense, white lights stand at its corners. The lights are turned on or off by
the performers to highlight certain moments or to cover the entire playing
performance itself proceeds in sections, the first one based on a trust
exercise familiar to actors - one person falls straight backwards without
bending and the task of the partner is to catch the first person. But in the
show, after the first few falls, the entire stage is suddenly filled with
people calling out, “Falling,” then dropping back and being caught, each at a
slightly different time. We have the feeling of a sort of controlled chaos.
Then we notice that the fallers are no longer in simple couples. Now the
performers are falling from greater and greater heights, having climbed ever
higher, on shoulders, or on shoulders of those balancing on shoulders, for
instance. The catchers are no longer single people, but groups, and the
catches themselves become more and more complicated. At no time do the
performers pause for applause. They just do their work and obviously enjoy
themselves and each other, without being obvious about it. The acrobats are
not performing for us; They are allowing us to be present as they do the work
they so clearly enjoy.
Credit: Maike Schulz
The audience looks on as company members balance Rachael Boyd (bottom) and
Ashleigh Pearce (top).
sections of the show involve the audience. In one of these, people are invited
up onto the stage to lie down on their backs, in a circle, heads to the center,
surrounding a circular wooden disc. On the disc are three metal poles and on
these is an acrobat who balances on one, two, or three of them. After a number
of different balances, she walks on the lifted hands of her fellow acrobats,
still on their backs and dispersed among the audience members, then starts to
walk on the lifted hands of the audience members, too, adults and children,
adjusting the support of her weight as necessary.
audience participation moment comes during the solo of the percussionist, Elliot
Zoerner. Mr. Zoerner is not merely an accompanist for the group: He is one of
the co-founders of Gravity and Other Myths, one of the co-directors of A
Simple Space, and, with the participation of the acrobats, the composer of
the soundtrack, as well as the on-stage drummer. His drumming and the
soundtrack are not only integral to the performance, they seem at times to
drive the energy of the show. In his solo section, Mr. Zoerner steps forward
from his drums and sound instruments, into the performance space, and plays his
body. His body percussion is imaginative both rhythmically and in the
different ways he finds to bring forth the sound; Here, also, the audience is
invited to join in, this time rhythmically. Once again, the audience members
can partake of something larger than themselves.
Space is a living
example of the beauty that cooperative effort, on the part of creators and
performers, can produce. To then go further and show the audience how they,
too, can learn to cooperate and the special feelings such participation
engenders, is to offer a gateway into the creation of a better world. Though A
Simple Space lasts under an hour, it is just the right length to leave the
audience exhilarated, full of life, and different from the way they were when
they walked into the space. A Simple Space is actually profound.
New York, NY 10036
646 223 3010