‘Play Dead’, a theatrical investigation into death, will debut at this year’s 2high Festival. Loss and grief is universal, which is why ‘Play Dead’ could be for any audience.
“When we go into the rehearsal room we don't sit down and say, ‘Who are we making this for?’ That normally comes later in the production process. We're not quite sure exactly what group this will hit but we have a feeling it will be quite universal because we have all experienced loss at some point in our lives. We're not targeting any specific niche,” co-creator Thomas Hutchins explains.
'Play Dead' is the collaborative effort of two young artists, Michael Whittred and Thomas Hutchins, and the duo incorporate musical elements as well as standard theatre practices to create their works. This particular play has been described as 'physical music theatre'.
“Michael Whittred is a musician and I'm also a musician but I am more theatre-inclined. Michael writes a lot of the music and the lyrics. I pull all that together inside a theatrical realm and play with theatrical text, movement and choreography around these musical compositions that Michael creates.
“We're not musical theatre because we don't share the storyline through songs and we're not physical theatre. I guess 'physical music theatre' is a combination of words that describe us best. Or maybe a 'play with songs' is the best description for the work we do because the songs in our work, they tell another story. They step outside the narrative and they tell something else which really opens up the world of the play and explodes all the theatrical meanings,” Thomas says.
Aside from the abstract construction of the play through the use of music, Thomas says 'Play Dead' also toys with a dark narrative which could unhinge its audience.
“‘Play Dead’ is an investigation into the idea of death and what society believes death is and our attraction to it and our confusion by it and our complete unknowing towards it. 'Play Dead' is an investigation into what life is with death and what life is without death. It's an idea that Michael had but both of us have experienced loss like everyone has and we didn't want to run away from the idea of grieving, we wanted to question the idea of what grieving really is. We wanted to question what death is, we wanted to deal with it. If everyone stopped questioning then we might as well just play dead.”
This contemporary narrative, created by two young artists, couldn't have found a more appropriate format to debut the work. 2high Festival is celebrating its 21st year as an arts festival, dedicated to unearthing Australia's artistic youth.
“Well this is my second year at the festival so it's a great privilege to be able to be able to perform a new work at the Brisbane Powerhouse, which is such a renowned venue. It's so great and I'm very appreciative of those who came before me and made it possible for me to put a show on at one of Australia's best venues.”
Having showcased his work at last year's 2high Festival, Thomas understands the importance of youth-oriented events like 2high and the impact they can have on the artistic youth of Australia.
“I think [youth arts festivalsare] important because they are one of the only ways that people like me can show off our work, can put it on, can try it out, can fail, can succeed. It's one of the few ways that we can do that at this level. There's a few places around like Metro Arts in the city but apart from that, there's nowhere that will let us fail.”
‘Play Dead’ can be seen at the Brisbane Powerhouse as part of 2high Festival on Saturday November 2.