FORCE MAJEURE WORLD PREMIERE
From the acclaimed dance theatre company Force Majeure and director Danielle Micich comes a provoking work created in extraordinary times.
Inspired by the music and themes of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, this world premiere production explores themes of ageing, environmental destruction, speculative paths to human survival, and asks: ‘How did we get here? What have we built? How can we continue?’
With original text by Tom Wright and music by Kelly Ryall, The Last Season brings together Australian stage icons Paul Capsis and Pamela Rabe, the powerhouse Irish actor Olwen Fouéré, and an ensemble of 13 young performers in a vibrant intergenerational conversation.
At this critical time in human history, Force Majeure continues its commitment to making work exploring and questioning contemporary culture.
Runtime: 80 mins
Cast and Credits
Director & Choreographer Danielle Micich
Music Kelly Ryall
Text & Dramaturgy Tom Wright
Set & Costume Designer Marg Horwell
Lighting Designer Damien Cooper
Assistant Director Liesel Zink
Youth Company Rehearsal Director Elle Evangelista
Creative Producer Colm O’Callaghan
Live Music Ensemble
Voice Susie Bishop
Percussion Niki Johnson
Electronics Kelly Ryall
Cello Freya Schack-Arnott
Production Managers Cliffie Rosenberg, Jason Thelwell
Stage Managers Brooke Kiss, Natalie Moir
Chaperones Milly Grindrod, Emma Squires
Commissioned by Carriageworks.
The Last Season is a new major work inspired by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and directed by Danielle Micich, the project is a timely reflection and call to action on the critical effects of climate change.
Featuring a trio of remarkable performers – Paul Capsis, Olwen Fouere and Pamela Rabe – alongside an ensemble of fifteen young performers, The Last Season is a conversation between our older and younger generations that explores what our world will be like for generations to come.
The Last Season features original text by Tom Wright and music by Kelly Ryall, designed by Marg Horwell.
This work will feature in APAM 2020 – click here for pitch information>>
Supported by Create NSW and The Australia Council for the Arts.
Danielle Micich directing Paul Capsis, Olwen Foréré, Danielle Micich, Pamela Rabe and Ursula Yovich in Creative development for Four Seasons. 2019. Photo by Ashley de Prazer
Force Majeure’s first Youth Company prepares ‘The Last Season’
Carriageworks Sydney resident company, Force Majeure, has launched its first ever youth company. “It is so energising to work with and be challenged by the next generation of artists that will carry our culture forward,” Force Majeure stated.
Fourteen young people, aged 9-14, will join the first iteration of the new company. They will be trained by artistic director, Danielle Micich, and join renown performer/actors Paul Capsis, Olwen Fouéré and Pamela Rabe in the world premiere of Force Majeure’s next major work, The Last Season, in January.
Micich took Dance Australia behind the scenes of the initiative:
Dance Australia: Why did you form the youth company?
Danielle Micich: The youth company came out of INCITE Youth, which was an expansion of our INCITE artist development program that happened last year with the support from Create NSW. We wanted to reach young performers who are wanting to develop and understand how to approach making new dance theatre works with narrative.
The goal with this youth company is to bridge that gap from training to performance for young people and to share dance theatre practice with the next generation. It places young people onto our mainstages so that we might look at the world from their perspective.
What you are looking for in your young performers?
Danielle Micich: It is important to have a good widespread representation of younger performers. 14 young people aged 9-14 were selected after an audition process. We were looking for an open mindedness to work with conceptually challenging ideas, a playfulness in their exploration of choreographic tasks, an ease and confidence with their range of movement and dance styles, a willingness to experiment with voice, and a collaborative nature.
What can you reveal about ‘The Last Season’ and the role the young dancers will play in it?
These young dancers play a vital storytelling role. They are the major movement component of the work. Our three “grown-up” actors, Paul Capsis, Pamela Rabe and Olwen Fouéré, are the keepers of old seasons and old world views, resisting change. As the title suggests, we are witnessing the cycle of the last season to which we as a species have played a huge part in damaging our planet. The youth company represent a new world view. The work is made in collaboration with them and the choreography is devised with and by them.
– CANDIDE MCDONALD
Source: danceaustralia.com.au | 25 September 2020
Step inside the rehearsal room and hear from dramaturg Tom Wright alongside performers Paul Capsis, Olwen Fouéré and Pamela Rabe as they explore the themes and impact of The Last Season.
6–10 January 2020 | Sydney Festival at Carriageworks
More info and bookings: https://bit.ly/36sX0pc
Video by Kate Blackmore, music by Kelly Ryall
Pamela Rabe, Paul Capsis and Olwen Fouere are superb in The Last Season
In the slow opening to this work, which was inspired by Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, a number of large chrysalis-like structures hang from above, swaying gently. There are obviously figures inside them and gradually they emerge — young people in hooded brown jump suits — and try falteringly to spread their wings.
Unsuccessfully. It becomes clear that they won’t be turning into butterflies anytime soon. Insofar as it tells a story, The Last Season, presented by Force Majeure for the Sydney Festival, is about how older generations have let down the ones to come.
The show mixes dance, music and spoken performance in a series of movements, each centred around a senior figure who interacts with the squirming creatures. Three wonderful principal performers deliver a mish-mash of texts by writer and dramaturg Tom Wright.
The first is Pamela Rabe as a schoolmistress, resplendent in a crinoline dress in which she floats around the stage as if on wheels. She has faith in her little collection of pupils (or perhaps that should be pupas) and they seem to struggle to please her but they can’t do much. Like schoolmistresses from the old stories she reminisces about the past and before she sends them out on their “missions” she enjoins them to be nice to people. She tells them a story about the evolution of life on earth and reminds them, in sinister tones, that Autumn is coming.
The second movement introduces Paul Capsis as an aging cabaret artiste who tries to inspire the young people by telling anecdotes from his long career, including stories about children he thought might want to learn cabaret from him but who in fact want to become YouTubers and influencers.
The schoolmistress tells him she thinks one of the chorus of creatures might be able to think for itself, and that they all seem to understand her. She is upset when they turn on each other and on her.
All this is fairly obvious. These old people have nothing helpful or hopeful to offer.
Perhaps the fading cabaret artiste is Autumn because the third movement opens with Olwen Fouere who — in her costume, her physical and vocal demeanour and her message to these presumably terrified young charges — is clearly Winter. Like Rabe and Capsis, Fouere is an astonishing performer, here full of harsh breaths, hisses and other terrifying noises. In a mechanical voice she presents a final apocalyptic vision of what can only be described as the end of everything: Beckettian but without the fun.
There is a last season, but more of that later.
The direction and choreography are by Danielle Micich and some of her choices are at first strange but make sense by the end. The music, sometimes gentle but with sudden outbursts of ferocity, is by Kelly Ryall, with a fine live ensemble made up of himself on electronics, Niki Johnson on percussion and, particularly beautiful in the final scenes, Freya Schack-Arnott on cello and Susie Bishop in wonderful voice.
The lighting by Damien Cooper moodily picks out the poor struggling children and marks each new movement with sudden explosions of flashing strips of LED lights that ripple back and forth across the stage. Marg Horwell’s costumes for the principals are very striking.
I have left the chorus of young people until last because the show does. It doesn’t give these enthusiastic performers nearly enough of a role, given they are onstage for the entire show. For over an hour they twitch and writhe in drab costumes, in subservience to some quite dreadful grown-ups. The effect is highly unsettling.
But in Micich’s show there is a last season, when they shed the brown and emerge as … a bunch of kids who want to dance. God knows what they will make of the devastated world we have left them.
The Last Season. Force Majeure. Director: Danielle Michich. Carriageworks, January 7. Tickets: $50-$65. Bookings: online. Duration: 75min, no interval. Until January 10.
By John McCallum
Photos by Brett Boardman
Photos by James Green