And maybe this was planned, but Rachael and Tadasu’s presentations reflected just that: instead of being focused on a single theme or a single set of artworks, they took us on a loosely linked journeys through their portfolios.
Rachael: I hope you don’t think I’m completely schizophrenic by the time you get through this.
Rachael started off with some work from Stalker Theatre, the company she co-founded when she was 19 years old, just out of Lecoq School: crazy combinations of circus, dance and physical theatre, also with a political agenda: trying to find a genuine voice in Australia as a postcolonial country.
First clip she showed us was from Incognita, inspired by a comment from an Aboriginal colleague:
You white fellas, you’ve got your own story too. You’ve just forgotten it. You’ve got to tell it too.
Rachael: I decided to show you Incognito here in Singapore, because I was thinking of the flipside of oppression.
Also Shanghai Lady Killer, created in collaboration with Chinese-Australian director Tony Ayrs, playing with the fear and fetishization of all things Chinese. At first they wanted to play with the 1860s riots against the Chinese (still Australia’s biggest case of race-based violence), but then they decided to be more politically and culturally subversive; to seduce non-initiate audiences into coming in by creating a Kill Bill-style musical about a squad of Chinese women assassins sent to murder a popular Chinese mayor of Sydney.
No footage of productions, this time round – what she looked at was their Indigenous Choreographic Labs, trying to broaden the scope of Aboriginal performance into something truly contemporary. How they brought in indigenous choreographers from all over the Earth: Serge Aime Colibaly from Burkina Faso, Jecko Siompo from Papua, others from the Congo and New Zealand. This struggle with the idea of Australian aboriginal dance as something sacred, fighting for survival, as compared to the playful, strongly community-based practices of the visiting artists.
Rachael: Jecko got a bit obsessed that in Papua they also have a kangaroo. He comes from quite a tribal dance background, so he developed a kangaroo choreography which he taught to the original group.
Rachael: This is a dramaturgy that is incomplete, polysemic and which stirs ghosts.
Brett: (during Q&As) Sorry, what did you mean by incomplete and polysemic theatre?
Rachael: Polysemic means that there are different narratives going to different sections of the audience. It’s a big part of our work, because one thing about indigenous knowledge structures is that there’s inside and outside knowledge. There’s some knowledge that’s not allowed to be known.
Rachael: On incompleteness: I’m interested in gaps In knowledge. Because you see things between the gaps.
I’ve stopped wanting to tell just one story.
This is of course what the international space of the Flying Circus Project has always been about: different flows from different cultures. But it’s not just about skin colour and passports: it’s about different disciplines, flowing together, cross-infecting, cross-inspiring, crossbreeding.