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  • By Emily Richardson

Sydney review - quirky The Great Speckled Bird


Photo: Ryan McGoldrick creates screen magic.

The Great Speckled Bird

Directed by Ryan McGoldrick

Re:Group Performance Collective

PACT Centre for Emerging Artists

107 Railway Parade, Erskineville

Season: 17-20 June

The Great Speckled Bird presents a quirky alternative ‘creation myth’ in response to dissatisfaction with the Big Bang theory. Featuring a dancing giant, and of course, a great speckled bird, the universe is brought into being. An ensemble of three interacts with digital media projected on the screens behind them and a cross-breed of classical, jazz and soul music is incorporated to tell the story with sound and movement.

The process of fabricating an alternative creation story is a peculiar one, which sparks innumerable questions. In consideration of what the ensemble was embarking on, one must question the process in which we accept or reject the stories and explanations about how we have come about.

Could each theory be as valid as the next in its didacticism and moral worth? Are we incapable of discerning the true explanation of our beginnings, and thus any attempt at explanation must be considered a myth? Creation ‘myths’ are prevalent in almost every historical culture, highlighting a human desire to understand our roots. At what point does this desire become futile and fruitless? In posing a potential answer, The Great Speckled Bird seems to act as a catalyst for even more persistent questions.

Helping tell the story was the digital media illustrations, projected on the back screens. Director and performer, Ryan McGoldrick, currently a PhD candidate at the University of Wollongong researching the dramaturgies of motion-tracking and digital projection technologies, designed the digital media utilised in the work.

His designs added humour and intrigue to the performance, and served to push the dialogue onwards, which at points could be a little slow. The music of Claire Stjepanovic and Steve Wilson-Alexander was upbeat and the consequent movement brought a nuanced groove to the piece.

Stjepanovic displayed diversity with her exquisite voice skills, resulting from extensive classical experience. Wilson-Alexander paired his funky bass guitar with physical movement and interaction with props to enhance the overall theatricality. The entire ensemble showed off some pretty impressive dance moves.

The Great Speckled Bird presented its audience presented its audience with plenty to ponder, in an unconventional manner. Evading any mundane parameters of theatre, the theatrical work engages numerous facets of performance to compel you to question what you know - or what you think you know. Immersed in an imaginatively viable alternative, the audience surrenders themselves to endless possibility. Oh, the wonders of theatre.


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