Mark Haslam is a performance designer who has worked with leading arts companies across performance, dance, music and visual arts as well as lighting-up some of the world’s top DJs like Fatboy Slim and Carl Cox. Now along with his team at kdmindustries, a theatre group who have recently relocated from Sydney to Fremantle, he’s bringing new creation All I Ever Am to The Rechabite. The show has been described as an immersive trip through real time web scrapes, video and modular sound, and runs for one night only on Friday, May 7. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with Haslam to find out that despite a career already packed with innovative creations, All I Ever Am is set to be unlike anything he’s put his hand to before.
Your career spans into really diverse fields, when someone asks you “what you do for a living” how would you explain it concisely?
I tend to say I’m a “Technical Creative” – that I make all the technical aspects of performing arts gigs work together. For a while there I use to say “Peanut Roaster” on my incoming passenger ticket though. Was less questions at customs!
And in your time being part of so many different projects, what’s the most unusual or unexpected thing you have found yourself doing?
That’s one of the joys actually – every single project I become an expert on a new thing I would never have dreamed. One project it’ll be how to measure the strength of a magnet, the next how to get seven tonnes of sand out from a theatre three floors below ground for instance. I do remember being in a hotel in Beirut working out how to get antiretroviral drugs for a cast member into Lebanon, where they’re illegal. That was a new one.
Bringing it to this new show All I Ever Am, was there something in this show that you have always wanted to do and are now seeing happen for the first time?
It’s still really rare to see work in Australia that embraces the power of storytelling through media in a live performance environment. The technical arts are often left to the end in processes – giving them free reign here has been liberating.
We’re seeing a lot more shows at The Rechabite that engage the space both visually as well as sonically. How are you visualising the experience to be on the night and why was this a good place to make it all happen?
All I Ever Am sits in a place between theatre performance, visual arts and a club gig – every audience member will get something different out of it. The Rechabite was perfect for it as I feel their audiences are less constrained by the labels of what a show should be. This work needs that open mindset – it’s how you’ll get the most from it! I reckon it’ll look huge in there, like a genuinely mind-blowing, immersive trip.
I imagine a show like this would have required a bit of research into the subjects it explores? What was the most interesting thing you discovered in the process of creating this show?
Absolutely! I think the most interesting thing is just finding the layers to which everything is connected. How something random like a post can create this ever expanding ripple of information that flows around the world, getting logged literally thousands of times before being stored in massive data centres, which are consuming astonishing levels of resources. Every bit of data you create has an impact on a global scale, and connects you to a global community. It’s pretty interesting I reckon!
And do you feel there is a particular message you want audiences to take away from this show? Or is it more a matter expressing themes artistically and letting people draw their own findings?
I think the message has to be drawn by each punter. I don’t have the answer to the question of what it means that humanity now exists simultaneously in both physical and digital worlds. But I’m pretty interested to show audiences the scale of that digital world that is being generated every moment, and how much fun it can be to share a space with creators all over the world in real time.
What’s next for you and for kdmindustries for the rest of 2021 and beyond? Any more interesting productions like this in the pipeline to look forward to?
Always! I’m on a few development gigs that are deconstructing their forms, like circus, theatre and contemporary dance which is always fun. I reckon after this one kdmindustries might look again at the contemporary city. I want to choose a square kilometre of land and warp time to present all of the things that happened in that space since the beginning of humanity. Either that or something about black holes. Will keep you posted!