The Zone Backstory
The theme for THE ZONE centred around the formation and dissipation of the community in times of extreme pressure. Why does it take a natural disaster or something of extreme magnitude to happen for us to be compassionate or to be empathetic or generous; to be a real community? This is a question I’ve grappled with time and time again, most recently even in ARCHIVES OF HUMANITY.
THE ZONE pays tribute to the power of humanity to band together in natural disasters. Between 2010 and 2012, I experienced Cyclone Yasi, the Queensland floods, and Christchurch earthquakes and was taken aback by a sense of community that started to form amongst people. Neighbours who had never talked before started sharing with each other, welcoming people into their homes. That is a moment of natural disaster, or a point of extreme pressure, a community forms, where race, religion, opinion basically fall away and people care about people humanity leading in its simplicity. With multiple voices contributing to the diversity of the community, THE ZONE is also infused with a sense of protest, the power and resilience of populations who chose to stand up for what they believe is right.
Community coming together; it seems so simple. When you’re in a position where there’s a choice to help or not to help, it’s interesting to see what happens, the instinct in you rises, that instinct to find others, to assist, to support, to help. And then once the pressure is relieved you go back to your life before, and all sorts of judgement, all sorts of opinion, and all the walls between us start to build up again.
In the making of the original production, I worked closely on the set design with phenomenal Japanese Architect, Satoshi Okada drawing inspiration from Surrealism, in particular the art of Salvador Dali and René Magritte. A lot of images in the media and online at the time of the disasters were so surreal – cracks through the land, people hanging out with their heads popping up from these massive cracks, the Christchurch Cathedral broken and half of its rubble, uprooted trees and big steel signs floating down the street like a piece of paper floating in the wind.
I was fascinated to create a pseudo-art gallery space for THE ZONE, hence the walls of the set, basically trap the dancers in there, the only way out being up over the walls. Energy and force happen naturally inside the space, coupled with the idea of how community forms and how it dissipates.
Re-imagining THE ZONE as a virtual reality experience with FrameVR is hugely invigorating for me, giving me greater scope to further enhance the surreal nature of the work and look at ways audiences move within that virtual space. Not only how they experience the work physically through the VR headset but how their senses are activated in the process. I look forward to announcing soon the eight dancers we will work with and in taking you behind the scenes of this new creation.