When I arrived at Footscray Community Arts Centre 5+ minutes late for the opening night of Hunted I let out a sign of relief – it was so relaxed as the crew, director, producer and audience stood in the gallery space chilling until the time was right to begin. Not unlike other creative developments Hunted was not quite ready on the dot of 7.30pm, plus there was a scheduled Welcome to Country by Aunty Carolyn Briggs.
Sitting in the back row with my partner and friends, we awaited the beginning of the show…there was a layer of smoke drifting around the black box and Anna Liebzeit, an audio artist and performer, resident on stage left behind a sound set up with computers and equipment, hurricane lighting and a glowing illumination.
Margaret Harvey, director of Hunted and co-owner of brown Cab Productions, introduced the show, stating that it was a very technical piece and that she would stop the run if there were any hitches as she wanted to audience to experience the full intended effects.
Hunted, inspired by Cameron Costello’s poem ‘The Bunyip of Bummiera’, is an intense, psychological theatrical feat. The show starts with the poem being recited and words flashed across the space with the reoccurring refrain of ‘an no more’ signalling the power of the beastly bunyip lurking in the dark, deciding when to explode into view, usually in the night time. However the mood changes, becoming electrified from the moment Kirk Page (performer) crawls painfully onto stage. The audience gets a sense that the demons he is battling are as much internal as external. Kirk Page is brilliant as he embodies the wracked pain of fighting inner demons as well as the watchful, and paranoid concern for ‘what is out there’, lying beyond the light.
The show is a series of vignettes – some that Anna Liebzeit is physically involved in, but mainly she watches from the side. In fact the female power in this performance is quite important. Compared to the performance of Page, Liebzeit is controlled, contained, almost directive as she has physical control of the soundscape as well as a microphone. Page doesn’t ‘talk’ he utters sounds; Liebzeit sings, she recites.
I was very moved, actually pushed but this performance. It embodied some ideas that I have been thinking about for a while – about how much we have to navigate inside of ourselves in order to do the work that we do. Can we suspend judgment of others and ourselves, can we put aside fear, can we create a feeling of belonging for ourselves and others? In this performance Page embodies this work that we each do each day – wrestling with those demons inside as well as those feared, imagined and real, outside of us.
Congratulations to Brown Cab Productions and team. You are very inspiring as storytellers across platforms – I am looking forward to seeing the film project you are making of Hunted as well. I encourage you to continue to play with this work, and to show it again.