The rich, colourful and checkered history of an island, that lies just off the coast of ours, provides the narrative and the once perfect, tropical backdrop to this performance. But as the performance traces the lineage from past to present, the effects of colonisation and the ploys of various continents to take from this island ts natural resources. Leaves us the present. For what is faced by Nauru and it’s people is clearly, and evidently a disaster. 

The performance takes the form of a school pantomime, it’s all pops of colour, prop heavy stuff with some deeply evocative memories of childhood at play. But cutting deeper than these superficial and at times satirical movements, you can recognise that choosing such a young ensemble is an a intelligent and timely theatrical device. With detention centres and off shore processing still a hotly contested issue, it’s important that we continue to stoke the fire, insight curiosity and inspire conversation, not just between us as adults, but perhaps more importantly with the next generations to come. We All Know Whats Happening, comes at a time in Australia where our schools have only begun to really educate on white Australia’s violent history of invasion and conflict. The ensemble give as much they can, and the performance is solid and co-creators Samara Hersch & Lara Thoms should be commended for such a brave and unsettling image. 

Mid performance all children younger than the age of twelve are asked to leave the theatre, next coming the most uncomfortable truth that is our governments attempts to sweep under the rug, valid claims of child and sexual abuse on Nauru. Here the performance strikes its greatest chord.

Creatives and visionaries should always strive for work that is resonate, powerful and of the times, however in the cold hard light of reality, one must also question how far reaching theatre of a political nature really is. Not to diminish what is being communicated here, but how will this show permeate the outside,  what is its ability to effect change? Theatre won’t drastically shift conversation nor instile in our government empathy. Sadly outside of the theatre the world continues to turn, the planet continues to burn and we continue to regress further. In reflection of such negative and uncompromising thoughts the power of this kind of  performance is visible. In an otherwise darker growing world, things that shine and own such an innocence need continuing. We All Know Whats Happening playing this week at Arts House, for tickets or more info click here

 

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Jessi Lewis is a keen writer and reviewer, his focus is on experimental and fringe theatre, dance and fashion. Having previously written for both Melbourne Arts Fashion and Australia Arts Review, he has had the opportunity to interview the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier, while witnessing some of the best, worst and most obscure performances Melbourne has offered up in the past two years. He also creates solo performance works that are cross disciplinary and highly visceral. He has recently returned from Malaysia performing for the 3rd year as part of Melaka Art and Performance Festival. He also performed as part of Arts Island Festival and Tobong Arts Festival (Indonesia) and Mangar Art and Performance Festival (India). His work has been deeply influenced inspired by these experiences, most notably the people and cultures unique to these places. Ultimately his work seeks to inspire thoughts and conversations by challenging the status quo.