The Disappearances Project
Once again, on a trip to the Judith Wright centre my bias for reality-based theatre has been provoked. I wish to start this review by applauding the Judith Wright centre for staging this kind of work in Brisbane and being the only venue to my knowledge to be giving reality, documentary and ethnotheatre a voice in Brisbane's crowded theatrical marketplace. This work is much more than theatre and much more than research, it is a crucial opportunity for dialogues and conversations to take place in the wider community and I can not state of how wide spread this is needed in our community and of the critical importance work such as this has. I thank the Judith Wright centre and version 1.0 for having the courage, the vision and the moral strength to bring us theatre that we desperately need as a society.
This is an absolute masterpiece, a triumph and a true incarnation of the real power that reality and documentary theatre has both as an art form in its own right but an important agent for communal and social dialogues and an agent of social change. This is ethical theatre with its heart on its sleeve, a conversation starter and a palatable chance for peoples to engage in transformational and healing dialogue. The tragedy of our modern age, it would seem, is that though we are all talking, there is little speaking and even less listening. This is a theatre product that honours the speaker and listens, really listens, without judgment or critique. This is a chance and a much needed one at that for a subject that is treated with silence in our culture can come out and be revealed, spoken about and discussed in an open-minded and open hearted way, a way that privileges the voices of those effected, allows them to break their silence, a conversation starter in families, communities and arts industries about the dire necessity to be informed, to be aware and to be sensitive to the issues and experiences around us and to examine what is really happening in the stories we don't often hear. This is an incredible thing. Bravo!
"The Disappearances Project" is a reality play about the experiences of the families and loved ones of missing persons, their thoughts, feelings, experiences and emotions are explored and presented in vivid detail and with stunning integrity and feeling. What arrived from real people's testimonies and stories, collected through an agency of painstaking research is story that is both agonizing and yet hopeful as the voices struggle to articulate the experiences of grief, uncertainty, not knowing balanced against hope and longing. The work is visually understated, with the actors Yana Taylor and Irving Gregory seated and addressing the work in a matter of fact way while behind them a cinematic, blurred journey around a city-scape plays continually. The feeling is that of overwhelming loss, confusion, uncertainty as ideas of personal and of place are constantly dissected. The voices search for meaning, recount stories of their frustration and grief and tales of trying to move on and live a normal life. The raw personal meets the political and the nerves and nakedness of a deeply human experience of trauma and of healing is laid bare in a beautiful way full of honesty and integrity.
This is a marvelous show. It is not tacky nor preachy, rarely didactic or on any soap-box. It is a conversation, an experience and a phenomena. Once again, it feels inappropriate to condense everything this performance is into the vernacular of a theatre review when there is so much at stake in this performance. It is an agent of a social change, compelling us to discuss the issues as well as a heavily important emancipatory and affirming opportunity for people who have had these experiences to collectively tell their stories, grieve and search for healing and redemption. It is a communal and spiritual event, where we can actually speak and listen to each other, where the silence that surrounds a social and cultural issue is dismantled in a safe and mutually beneficial way and we can collectively feel, touch and be together with each other's stories and experiences.
The value of this work is incalculable, someone, somewhere is going to experience this show and be affirmed and able to engage in some healing of the fractures that are caused when people go missing. It is awareness raising, informing and educating, it will undoubtedly change lives, it brings awareness. If it has not happened already, this show will start a conversation in a family, a group or a community that allows a missing person to be found or the victims left behind to move toward closure and healing.
This is a work that is deeply concerned with hope and how people live on in the face of a deeply traumatic experience. It is a testament to human strength and the beauty and fragility of human life and our relationships with each other and it is treated with empathy, sincerity and a strong backbone of ethical integrity. It is honest and at times almost sacred and it opens the doorway for a discussion to be had. It is an incredible thing or unmentionable and critical importance and I was so very pleased by it and rocked to my very core.
"The Disappearances Project" is only in Brisbane for a short while longer. I can not urge strongly enough how important it is that it recieves a wide viewership. Tickets and information are available from http://www.judithwrightcentre.com/02_cal/details.asp?ID=1093