This article about My Name is Rachel Corrie was written by Liza Power and published in The Age on Saturday 30 October 2010. See it in its original context here. An idealistic life remembered Liza Power October 30, 2010 Image:…
I was always susceptible to liking Mari Lourey’s new play, Bare Witness. What with an interest in areas of conflict; that I’d just re-read Hare & Brent’s Pravda and an equally scathing depiction of journalism in a friend’s new play that is the glorious bastard child of Hare, Brent, Stoppard and Beckett; I was almost certain to be provoked. But where BW differs is that its focus is the corruption of the image, not words. Whereas the latter can be nimble and conjure the trick of “truth” in front of eyes — hearing how it’s done behind the by-line would deflate anyone insistent on objectivity — an image is supposed to be bare A camera is a witness, a machine that doesn’t need to decipher right from wrong. But this is not true either.
The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own. – Susan Sontag
A rare collaboration between two of Melbourne’s most important creative spaces, Mari Lourey’s Bare Witness is a joint presentation by La Mama Theatre and fortyfivedownstairs, in the latter organisation’s bunker-like venue beneath Flinders Lane. The space suits the work admirably, for Bare Witness is an expressionistic exploration of the experiences of a diverse group of photojournalists in three different war zones: Bosnia in the early 1990s, Timor Leste in the dark days before its independence from Indonesia, and contemporary Iraq.
The audience’s introduction to this blood, developing fluid and adrenaline-soaked world is Australian photographer Dani Hill (Daniela Farinacci), who in a short space of time goes from snapping hats and frocks at Flemington race course to photographing corpses and grieving widows in the Balkans. Years later, Dani looks back through her old photographs, recalling the stories behind the 11 most powerful shots; stories which are then played out for the audience, counting down slowly to the traumatic revelation behind the final, heartbreaking photograph.
When you see pictures of the casualties of war on the television news or in the newspapers, do you ever wonder about the person who took them? This special La Mama Theatre presentation in conjunction with fortyfive downstairs is about that person.
Bare Witness is an amazing dramatic collage describing the exhilaration, the horror, the outrage, the anguish and the dread hopelessness of combat-zone photography, fusing a compelling life story, expressive choreography, poetic visual effects, a complex moral dilemma and the best sound design of any production seen in Melbourne this year. It’s written by Mari Lourey and directed by Nadja Kostich, and it’s showing now at Melbourne’s Fortyfivedownstairs.
Without realising I pass into the zone of a dangerous place…
‘…to see truth, to capture it, to wing it home…landing on my doorstep wrapped in newsprint…tripping into the lounge room through the screen…No-one remembers how it works’
(Excerpt from The Aerodynamics of Death, Robyn Rowland)
Bare Witness by Mari Lourey explores this very idea by scrutinising and paying homage to the experiences of a group of photojournalists seen through the eyes of Australian correspondent Dani in the warzones of the Balkans, East Timor and Iraq. The story follows Dani from her beginnings in the field through to the aforementioned countries. She sets out to ‘capture the perfect image’ but it eventually all becomes too much for her and she realises she has to face the humanity staring at her through the lens. As Lourey states in the program notes she found herself asking why these people place themselves in such extraordinary and often dangerous situations for the sake of maybe one published image.
I’m loath to say this, for several reasons, but nevertheless: sometimes you have to point out the obvious. (In Ms TN’s case, pointing out the obvious is my raison d’etre). The City at Red Stitch and La Mama’s Bare Witness at Fortyfivedownstairs are productions which demonstrate that our indie women directors can be as ambitious, imaginative, intelligent, out-there theatrical and aesthetically tough as any man.
….an amazing dramatic collage describing the exhilaration, the horror, the outrage, the anguish and the dread hopelessness of combat-zone photography, fusing a compelling life story, expressive choreography, poetic visual effects, a complex moral dilemma and the best sound design of any production seen in Melbourne this year…..
As in a flipbook, fragments of a life are animated, moving through the war-zones of Bosnia, East Timor and Iraq. The limits of the space, of this photojournalist’s life, are constructed and dismantled, along with the ethics and moral boundaries of the situations that she is thrust into. Flashes of light explode from cameras, bombs and light-boxes. A chorus of actors bends in and out of liminal spaces, dodging and re-assembling the shrapnel, like snap-shots, telling a multiplicity of stories and possible versions/takes. The live music score (by award winning Jethro Woodward) is relentless, but beautifully so, writing in a phraseology that departs from the single elements of the narrative and deepens the echoes of metaphor.
This piece comes from writer Mari Lourey, who comes to this piece via a music career, various arts projects, critically acclaimed Dirty Angels (La Mama 2003), and award winning The Bridge (Green Room and Vic Health Award, 2003).
THE camera never lies, according to the adage, but of course neither can it tell the whole story, because what is left out of the frame is often just as important as what is left in. This paradox is central to the ethical dilemmas faced by photojournalists working in war zones, who must constantly balance their own moral commitment to the truth with the media industry’s thirst for a graphic picture.
Bare Witness is Mari Lourey’s exploration of these contradictions, the pun in the show’s title drawing attention to how photojournalists can themselves become victims of a conflict, emotionally wounded by the images they ”shoot”.
The cultural influence of photojournalism on the battlefield has resulted in some life-changing images. Some, like the Associated Press’s Nick Ut’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a naked little girl running along a road immediately after a napalm attack during the Vietnam War – are defining images of a generation.
Controversy, too, has challenged the reputation for authenticity of both written and photographic journalism that has emerged from places to which few of us would dare travel – especially given the life and death stakes that exist in constantly unpredictable war zones. Renowned war photographer Robert Capa’s iconic “The Falling Solider” – a photograph of a ‘soldier at the moment of death’ – has long been the subject of controversy, with a Spanish newspaper declaring it a fake in 2009. Capa, who most memorably (and miraculously) photographed World War II’s D-Day Landings in 1944, also once wrote: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Ironically, Capa was killed by a landmine in 1954 while on assignment for Time-Life magazine covering the first Indochina War. He died, it has been reported, “with his camera in his hand”.
Bare Witness, by Mari Lourey, has been in development for many years and is a meticulously researched play. As a work of performance, it is wonderful, employing eloquent and dramatic theatrical devices, multi-media, and some terrific physicality where the actors turn themselves inside out to say the unsay-able. The play creates with authenticity and verve the fraught hyper-reality of the world of the foreign correspondent, often in peril, living an unholy and thrilling existence surrounded by horror, and all the while documenting it. The play gives us to understand how the war journalist is very nearly another sort of human being. Bravery exists in all sorts of guises but very few of us are required to demonstrate the sort of immediate courage required of a photojournalist in a war zone. It’s an extraordinary thing to bring to life in an inner-city theatre space this sort of atmosphere and tension and it is to the credit of the team involved in Bare Witness that it succeeds in this so well. The form of the play itself crosses boundaries; it is, as well as a drama, a work of choreography. The live music score adds to the frequent effect of breathlessness and numerous devices are brought into play to serve the world it is portraying. You can nearly smell tear gas, sweat and blood.
Mari Lourey’s newest play explores the life of the self appointed “eyes and ears” of the world, the photojournalist, writes Prue Bentley.
You could argue that the media is in an ugly place at the moment. Opinion journalism has ascended under the auspices of the 24 hour news cycle. Fact-averse, deadline-hungry news agencies are increasingly enslaved to the easy headline.
So, while words can be moulded to an agenda, there’s still a perception of purity in the undoctored, still image.
Mari Lourey‘s newest play Bare Witness tours the life of the self appointed “eyes and ears” of the world, the photojournalist; curious, disconnected individuals who go from conflict to conflict, seeking truth, justice and the next front page.
Bare Witness by Mari Lourey draws on the real life experiences of photo journalists and foreign correspondents in the Balkans, East Timor and Iraq, roles which have become increasingly dangerous, while their moral validity is increasingly questioned.
Without realising, I pass into the zone of a dangerous place…
Bare Witness, a new Australian play by Mari Lourey (Dirty Angels, The Bridge, Digging Into The Green Mountain, ) and directed by Nadja Kostich, will premiere at fortyfivedownstairs, as a special La Mama presentation, featuring a stellar cast including Isaac Drandic, Daniela Farinacci, Todd MacDonald, Adam McConvell and Maria Theodorakis.
Set in the Balkans, East Timor and Iraq, against the complex terrain of contemporary photojournalism, Bare Witness scrutinises the way we view our humanity – through the fragmenting lens of the media. Photographs, memories and dreams collide in a physical multi-media performance that follows a pack of complicated flawed characters who share the unbreakable bond of war journalists. Searching for the pieces of herself lost to years in the field, a young Australian woman is at a point when thrusting the camera between herself and her subjects ceases to protect her.
This review of Do not go gentle… was written by Trevar Alan Chilver for his blog Foyer Talk See it in it’s original context here. Seeing Do Not Go Gentle was an experience. Not just because it's a great show, but because I got…
This review of Do not go gentle… was written by Anne Marie Peard for her blog Sometimes Melbourne and for AussieTheatre.com. See it in it’s original context here. In 2006 Melbourne playwright Patricia Cornelius won the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award and the…
Article by Mark Smith for the Moonee Valley Leader. See it in its original context here. Jan Friedl is ready for her role in the award-winning Melbourne production Do Not Go Gentle. TONY GOUGH N07MV602 KENSINGTON actress Jan Friedl has…
Submitted by K.E. Weber on Tuesday, 10th Aug 2010
The intention of former arts broadcaster and writer, Mary Lou Jelbart, who is the founder of fortyfivedownstairs, has been successfully realised in a short space of time and obtained a well deserved reputation as creating a venue that produces a varied range of independent theatre and art space. And it was this that created much enthusiasm amongst the packed audience which greeted opening night of Patricia Cornelius’ avant-garde piece “Do not go gentle….” this weekend.
We fear the unfulfilled life.
In the world as we know it, full of aspiration and glamour, there is something monstrous about coming to our end full of regret.
In Do Not Go Gentle, the latest work from Patricia Cornelius puts a group of ageing characters out on the ice to face their lives, their choices and their challenges. And they do it through the goggles of the ill-fated antarctic explorer Robert Scott.
Do Not Go Gentle
REVIEWED BY MARTIN BALL
August 9, 2010
An extraordinary cast
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
By Patricia Cornelius
45 Downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane. Until August 29.
DYLAN Thomas’s famous poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night is a passionate clarion call to live life to its utmost, even into old age. Such a philosophy of not going quietly – spelled out in the poem’s refrain, to ”Rage, rage against the dying of the light” – provides the starting point for Do Not Go Gentle, Patricia Cornelius’s wonderful new play about a group of characters in a nursing home, facing the trials and tribulations of old age.
The genius of Do Not Go Gentle, however, is that the characters double their roles in telling the parallel story of Scott of the Antarctic’s doomed expedition to the south pole and this astounding leap of poetic imagination sets up abundant connections between the image of Scott’s men trudging wearily one foot after another into blinding snow, and the creeping onset of senescence that dims the light for so many of our older folk.
The poetry of age in an uncertain world
- Alison Croggan
- From: The Australian
- August 09, 2010 12:00AM
PATRICIA Cornelius’s award-winning play borrows its title from Dylan Thomas’s poem Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night. Perhaps the most beautiful villanelle written in English, Thomas’s poem celebrates the vivid life of old age, pressed hard up against death: “Old age should burn and rave at close of day”.
Likewise, Do Not Go Gentle . . . explores the flare of vitality that reaches a desperate intensity in the face of death, through seven characters who live in an old people’s home.
The central character, Scott (Rhys McConnochie), is obsessed with the tragic heroism of Robert Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, a race he lost to Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, and that ultimately cost him his life.
Photo by Jeff Busby: Malcolm Robertson, Pamela Rabe, Terry Norris and Anne Phelan
Dylan Thomas’ famous exhortation that old age should burn and rage at close of day is here filled out with a specific and passionate argument by playwright Patricia Cornelius: the rage against the dying of the light is the rage of memory, of memory projected forward into action, into the renewal or reconsideration of old convictions, into reconciliations, into fresh desires, into affirmations, and into new adventures.
This is the much-anticipated premiere production of 2006’s Patrick White Award winner, Do Not Go Gentle. It’s an unflinching, imaginatively drawn, life-and-death scenario, similar in the directness and ardency of its argument to Cornelius’s work with the Melbourne Worker’s Theatre and related in its arrangement to her contribution to Who’s Afraid of the Working Class?
Written by Liza Dezfouli
Saturday, 07 August 2010 15:20
Left – Terry Norris, Anne Phelan and Rhys McConnochie. Cover – Pamela Rabe and Rhys McConnochie. Photos – Jeff Busby
Inspired by those famous words of Dylan Thomas and the story of Captain Scott’s trek to Antarctica in the early 1900s, Do Not Go Gentle by Patricia Cornelius is a beautifully rendered theatre piece. With a variety of dramatic responses to its themes this play gives a lovely sense of what’s possible on stage: images, music, opera, and simple poetic language; there is much to love about Do Not Go Gentle.
Do not go gentle…is written by Patricia Cornelius, directed by Julian Meyrick and produced by fortyfivedownstairs. The play runs from 6 – 29 August.
A few weeks ago I sat down with director Julian Meyrick and some of the cast of Do not go gentle…, opening tomorrow at fortyfivedownstairs. At the table were:
Rhys McConnochie, 73
Malcolm Robertson, 77
Terry Norris, 80
Next week, Melbourne’s fortyfivedownstairs will present the world premier of Do not go gentle… , written by Patricia Cornelius and directed by Julian Meyrick. It’s an award-winning script using Robert Falcon Scott’s final — and fatal — Antarctic expedition of 1910-13 as an allegory for life in an aged care facility and the final journey that five of its residents take through dotage into death.
Dr Julian Meyrick is and has been a passionate contributor to Australian theatre for more than 20 years, as a practitioner, historian and theorist, critic, administrator and occasional polemicist-cum-pamphleteer. He is currently a Research Fellow at La Trobe University and has previously been Associate Director and Literary Advisor at the MTC, directing many productions in Melbourne and around Australia. As an historian, he has written histories of Nimrod Theatre and the MTC, as well as Trapped by the Past: Why Our Theatre Is Facing Paralysis, a bracing 2005 Platform Paper written as part of Currency Press’s quarterly essays on the performing arts.
I was, I have to admit, a little worried as I made my way down the familiar set of stairs at 45 Flinders Lane last night.
The idea of an all-male Macbeth, set in a jail, has some cheesy potential. In theory, it could have been cheesier than a deep fried wheel of King Island Blue Brie. But a number of my most trusted carrier pigeons had informed me that this was not the case. And, I’m happy to say, they were right.
Patricia Cornelius in 'On the Spot', The Age, A2, July 24, 2010: Read more about Patricia's play Do not go gentle... here.
The below review is by John Bailey and was posted on his blog, Capital Idea, on Friday 19 March 2010: This one's arriving a little late, but I've been super busy of late with this great new hobby. It involves…