Observers on ‘The Arrival’ – Week 1

Arrival Rehearsals Week 1. Photo: Hebe Reilly

“Kristine is creating such a strongly image based work that it’s a real pleasure to watch. It feels very filmic in that she is setting up a scene almost like how I imagine you would set up a shot for film… putting all the elements in place and then seeing how it plays out. We’ve worked on a total of five scenes thus far: the boat scene (including a storm at sea), the football game, a street scene, a factory scene and a farewell scene between father and son.

Each scene has a distinctive feel to it and I really am impressed by how much Kristine gets in amongst the performers to develop and explore ideas. A great deal of thought and preparation has clearly gone into the work and yet each scene seems fresh and in the moment.

When Sita comes in as a writer, she has thus far not handed any text to the performers. She has, quite to the contrary, come in, listened and watched improvisations and captured text that she then takes a way and integrates into the script. In that way the work is always very close to the performers.

More and more, heightened moments incorporating the performers’ skills, or ‘tricks’ as they call them, are starting to emerge. Acrobatics are used to express spontaneous bursts of emotion, a hula-hoop act expresses casual indifference, and people are running across the space, swinging on ropes, doing hand stands or walking up a pole, always in carefully selected moments. All the artistry is tied into what is happening in the emotional narrative of the piece – playfully deliberate.

I have thus far worked primarily on text based work and even when I’ve devised work, the spoken text is what drives the story forward. I think that has led perhaps to more or less linear work. The Arrival seems to be different, sure there is a story line that threads its way through from one scene to the next, but at the same time it’s all so three dimensional, so vivid and visually satisfying.  It just looks like a lot of fun to come into the rehearsal room and construct these living images in collaboration with these fantastic performers.

What has also struck me is the force and beauty of the performers’ presence. They are all highly trained physically and come into the space with such a strong physical presence. They all have their own disciplines as well, which often involves some piece of equipment (hoops, straps, rope, pole, cycle, you name it) that they have a special relationship with. Then there’s a real joy in playing that they all seem to share. Every free minute they have they seem to use to warm up, work on their equipment or play around on someone else’s equipment. The trampolines at the back of the space get a lot of use in breaks. It is going to be very exciting to see how this joy of play, integrated into the narrative arch of the production, is going to work in performance. One week down, two (and a bit) weeks to go before we get there. Can’t wait!”

Arne Pohlmeier – Observer

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