“Please, we invite you to sit at our table, and partake of all we have…”
And, indeed, Cargo Club is a feast for all the senses.
This is a fabulous work that explores change, and tension, and the conflict between the human heart. It takes the joy of self-expression and juxtaposes it against the stressors of cultural assimilation.
Created by an incredible cast of Javanese, Japanese, Dutch, Indonesian, Papua New Guinean, Sumatran, and Australian artists, the work is a collaboration between DarahRouge (Bandung, West Java) and the Centre for Australasian Theatre (Cairns). The two companies have been collaborating since 2013, and for this project met at Metro Arts in Brisbane for an artist’s residency, the results of which you see before you. This work was created by the artists in an act spontaneous co-creation; this ownership of the work translates to a deep connection to the material and heady joy in its presentation.
Through an exchange of methodologies, presentations and exhibitions, they have developed a piercing work that explores ‘untold and shared histories, with a focus on the intergenerational impacts of trade through colonization, migration and globalization’. A story for our times, if ever there was one.
Multiple languages are used, and it is not necessary to know the translation to gather the meaning. Much as each story is personal, the artists ask you to take your own interpretation of the histories laid before you.
At times, each artist takes a travelling case, or a painted boat, and journeys through the space. This piece speaks to journeys within and without, and challenges in moving between. A stirring tale of citizenship woes highlights how people fall between the cracks. In this day and age, this message is so pertinent to the zeitgeist – what becomes of stateless people? Who will speak if we do not?
The heavy undercurrent does not detract from the glorious colour of movement and spectacle. The use of many languages and beautiful costuming suggests we are present in an imagined Paris, Morocco, Caribbean island of memory. The costuming is simply sublime. Totems and personal items are woven into striking creations. These are not merely cloth and coverings, but items of shamanic value. Some distort the human body simply with face paint and cheesecloth, others are bedecked and bejewelled with layers of brilliant hand-gathered and painted fabrics. Ash-coloured babies are held close like totems. The limbs of trees become extension of arms, stuffed toys are transformed into a disturbing cloak.
The fourth wall is utterly discarded, performers move in and around the audience; we are encouraged to lounge, to sit right on the stage, to visit the bar mid-show. The ‘Club’ aspect is apparent, the work is a performance, but is designed to suit a very casual theatre environment, and would be amazing at a festival. The music is full of visceral rhythms and compelling melodies, we sway to the beat and are shorn by the song.
Darkness enters; we hear a terrifying tale of plucking the hair from under the arms of teenage men, to make them seem too young to be forced to go to war. It is so easy with all our urban creature comforts, to forgot that in places very close to Australia such horrors are the norm. Even within our jurisdiction. It is important to remember. It will never not be important for art to highlight these things. These artists have made deeply personal work; the line between script and history is too blurry to grasp. These are stories that need told, and these are the people that need to tell them.
In a stunning collaboration, these ten diverse and talented artists have created a work that is sublime, ethereal and very, very raw. It reminded me that a flower is a political statement if carried with intent. That a flower is a weapon if you hold it right. That a flower is a gift to one who passed or a plea to one you wish would stay. But it is never just a simple flower once it has been plucked.
Centre image by Darren Thomas of PhotoCo. Hero and bottom image by Nadia Jade.
Sugiyanti Ariani | Performer (DarahRouge)
Guillaume ‘Willem’ Brugman | Director & Performer (CFAT)
S.E. (Gepeng) Dewantoro | Visual Artist & Performer (DarahRouge)
Zelda Grimshaw | Musician & Performer (CFAT)
Catherine Hassall | Choreodramatist & Performer (CFAT)
John Heryanto | Performer (DarahRouge)
Linda Jackson | Visual Artist (CFAT)
Yayan Katho | Musician & performer (DarahRouge)
Dobi Kidu | Performer (CFAT)
Miyako Masaki | Performer (CFAT)
Satoshi Masaki | DJ (CFAT)
Lou Van Rikxoort | Performer (CFAT)
Guillaume ‘Willem’ Brugman & Catherine Hassall
Guillaume ‘Willem’ Brugman
Metro Arts Team
Creative Director | Jo Thomas
Business Director | Jess Murphy
Associate Producer | Kate Usher
Communications Manager | Emmaly Langridge