In a world bereft of almost all bird life, a cage bird and a scientist who dreams of flying have a complex relationship. That’s the central conceit behind Falling Through Clouds, the latest stage production from progressive theatre company, The Last Great Hunt. We spoke with erstwhile Hunter, Arielle Gray, about the show.
“The story centres around Mary, who is a scientist.” Arielle Gray tells us. “We’re in a world where birds have gone extinct and she wants to bring back a species of bird which can fly – that’s her basic aim. Mary has a vivid imagination and at night time she has dreams of flight and flying and soaring through the air and soaring through the clouds. Basically, her day time starts to merge with her night time… and I don’t want to give away anything after that!”
And that encapsulates the key problem when talking to one of the seven members of The Last Great Hunt. The troupe pride themselves on being innovative and surprising, and so any discussion about an upcoming production is, inevitably, rather circumspect. The best we can get out of Gray regarding Falling Through Clouds is that it’s science fiction… sort of.
“We seem to be throwing around the term ‘soft sci-fi,’” she says. “In that it’s not complete sci-fi; it’s quite playful, it’s very visual, there’s lots of visions and beautiful images but there’s also quite clinical scientific images. Yeah, soft sci-fi, I think, nicely sums it up, our genre. We get quite playful and a little bit tongue-in-cheek.”
As is usual for The Last Great Hunt, the show mashes together a range of theatrical techniques in interesting ways. “We have puppets, we’re using a lot of paper, we’re using animation, but we’ve moved up from the last show, It’s Dark Outside, where we had a fixed point screen out back. We’re now playing with animation in a three-dimensional sense; we’re playing with it in the space and hitting different objects at different points within the space and projecting form behind.”
And, also true to form, Falling Through Clouds is a truly collaborative project for the team. As Gray explains, “Four out of seven of the artists from The Last Great Hunt are working on this particular show. The other three have been in and seen showings and given us lots of feedback and done some dramaturgical work but it is really the four of us – Tim Watts, Chris Isaacs, Adriane Daff and myself – working in a space together. Tim is kind of the head creative on this, but he is very, very open as a collaborator and certainly is not a dictator at all. The whole show, the four of us have had a hand in. It all contributes to a real DIY feeling.”
Falling Through Clouds runs at the PICA Performance space from September 22 – October 11. For tickets and session times, go to pica.org.au.