Friday, October 26, 2012

Case Study No. 0614: Pandora

RETRIEVAL - Blog 1.mpg

a site specific, performance installation @ NLA

with the CYT Actors Ensemble & Teen Ensemble

Director - Karla Conway
Co Director - Joe Woodward
Production Design - Matthew Aberline
Installation Design - Louise Morris
Sound Design - Kimmo Vennonen & Cathy Petocz
Technical Design - Alister Emerson & Team

Conceived by Pip Buining

19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28 November & 3, 4, 5 December 2010

For more information -
Tags: Retrieval; CYT; Retrieval Blog; Canberra Youth Theatre
Added: 2 years ago
From: CanberraYouthTheatre
Views: 166

[scene opens with a young woman ("Karla Conway, Director") speaking directly to the camera]
KARLA CONWAY: Hello, I'm Karla Conway, artistic director at Canberra Youth Theatre, and welcome to our first online blog for our major production of 2010, "Retrieval" ... "Retrieval" is a site-specific performance installation at the National Library of Australia, where we take you - the audience - on a journey deep into the stacks on a quest to reconnect with stories past. It explores the idea that if we fail to connect with stories of the past and heed their messages, then we're gonna continue to make the same global mistakes into the future. Each week, one of our actors is going to document their process and mark the developments of that week, and they'll also share some of their creative process with you. And first up is Farnoush, so tune in each week to follow the creative development of this exciting work, and we look forward to seeing you at the National Library of Australia in November.
["Week 1 - Pandora" appears on screen, then cut to another woman ("Farnoush Parsiavashi, Pandora") speaking directly to the camera]
FARNOUSH PARSIAVASHI: Hi, my name is Farnoush Parsiavashi, and I'm one of the cast members of Canberra Threatre's production of "Retrieval" for 2010 ... Uh, just thought I'd tell you a little bit about what I'm doing. I'm playing Pandora, and she's a computer construct that's been brought in to digitize documents at the National Library, pretty much everything from the past to the present of what Australia's been doing for years, everything. And we've kind of been looking, at the moment, at how to create ...
[she pauses]
FARNOUSH PARSIAVASHI: What to create in the space, and what she needs to say, and how she needs to relate to the audience, 'cause there's also different characters, different spaces. And she needs to come off as sort of ... There's this problem that's occurred, she has to give a plea to get the audience on their way through this whole journey and this whole, y'know, monster of a play. Monster of a show. And so this week, we've kind of been looking at texts, and how to turn them into dialogue, monologues. All that kind of stuff.
[cut to another shot of Farnoush]
FARNOUSH PARSIAVASHI: So the next sort of process that we'll be looking at, I guess, is the exposition of the play and how we then get Pandora to create the sort of inciting incident to get the audience on their way and onto their journey.

National Library of Australia
19 November - 5 December 2010

Bookings (02) 6248 5057
www dot cytc dot net



Bookings: Phone (02) 6248 5057 or email
Tickets: Adults $25, Concession $18

Original Concept: Pip Buining
Director: Karla Conway (CYT Artistic Director)
Co Director: Joe Woodward
Installation Artist: Louise Morris
Costume Artist: Matthew Aberline
Sound Artist: Kimmo Vennonen
Emerging Installation /Sound Artist: Cathy Petocz
Cast: CYT Ensemble Members (18-25 years) & CYT Teen Ensemble (ages15-18)

What: RETRIEVAL will take our audience on a weaving journey deep into the stack of the National Library. It will be an expedition into our collective past. A cyclical journey of deposit and retrieval ensues – of stories past and stories to come. Whose voices do we revere? Whose stories do we listen to? Why do we record and archive our past if we do not learn from it? The stack is the keeper of our past – it is a maze of the stories of humanity. Stories of the mundane and of great profundity are deposited there hoping one day to be retrieved – to be read – to be heard – to be of use – to make a difference. History repeats itself when stories are not heard and heeded. It is our collective duty to retrieve the distant and recent past and learn from it but so often we do not go into the dark or unfamiliar spaces to do this. RETRIEVAL challenges us to look back in order to look forward.

When: 19th November – 5th December 2010
Where: The National Library of Australia

Contact: CYT on 6248 5057 or email



Remnants of a relinquished world reach out from crumpled pages of discarded knowledge. The sonorous strains of Cathy Petocz's original cello composition, played by Lizzie Nicholson, haunt the narrow introductory exhibition space of the National Library of Australia where old encyclopaedias encircle the emerging figures of the Unity / Librarian characters - Body (Glen Veitch), Mind (Lee Constable) and Spirit (Olivia Newton). Body strives purposefully for meaning, repeating with urgent necessity directions Left, Right, Up Down, Backwards, Forwards. Mind reiterates numbers; One. Two. One Two, compelling order and logic from the chaos of a crumbled past. Spirit's voice glides through the empty air, a sound without body, without mind and recalling the lost and forgotten world of true knowledge.

Hurriedly, the audience is ushered into the larger entrance foyer, in the midst of a construction site and projected images of people proclaiming the ruin of an ordered universe, against the grating background noise of a helicopter's rotor blades, chopping through the soundscape. Above, the black figure of a giant moth, looms from the balcony, flapping its wings in a threatening display of destructive force. Quickly, with Mind, Body and Spirit as their hosts, the audience is swept upon a journey of discovery, realization and reflective contemplation of sacrificial loss through the various rooms of the library, transformed by Louise Morris's remarkable, evocative installation designs and peopled by the ghostly, dusty figures of the past, costumed chiefly in Matthew Aberline's nineteenth century, gothic designs. Desolation and decay denounce the loss of a past that now must be retrieved. Moths slink through the corridors, claiming their domain, devouring its collection and menacing the visitors who would disturb their labour of destruction.

Kimmo Vennonen's sound design urges us on – into lifts, through rooms, set up with banks of monitors constructing binary codes, past a Guru (Humphrey Goldstein), searching for enlightenment in an unenlightened world, into the room where Pandora (Farnoush Parniavashi), trapped within a steel rotunda spouts forth the words of Prospero, powerless and disembodied after having unleashed the furies of the digital age: down to the stacks and the wheelchair bound Isis (Hannah Lawson), bound with the tubes of an archaic call-up system. Everywhere the images of loss, entrapment and decay permeate through the forest of trees of knowledge, the cobwebbed passages of dead reference and the discarded memories and objects of private recollection. As the journey through the derelict remains of a glorious past of treasured knowledge comes to a close in the library's Reading Room, the audience is witness to the dramatic ingestation of the Audience Member (Miriam Slater) by Sam Kentish's Mega Moth.

It is the terrifying proclamation of devoured hope.

"Go! Go! Go!" exhorts the Keeper of Knowledge (Tsee-Yee Teh). "This is a Construction Site." As I leave the library and Canberra Youth Theatre's ingeniously devised performance installation, I am struck by an overwhelming sense of loss. Have we sacrificed the treasures of our past, the knowledge and experience housed in the many chambers of the nation's custodian of knowledge and memory? Are we the victims of our bedazzling digital revolution, compelling us to consume the magical marvels of Facebook. Twitter, iphones and the Google Guru? Is Canberra Youth Theatre's production of Retrieval nothing more than an anarchical death rattle of a Luddite desire to cling to an irrelevant past, or is it a salutary warning to humanity that the irretrievable loss of past knowledge and literary and oral tradition will in time fall inevitable victim to the devouring predators of New Age technology and knowledge?

Retrieval is theatre that confronts, questions, challenges and provokes response. Former Artistic Director, Pip Buining's original concept is both innovative and prophetically chilling. Current Artistic Director, Karla Conway, with co-director Joe Woodward, weave the journey throughout the National Library with theatrical skill, surprising us with compelling imagery and intently positioned moments of intense performance from Canberra Youth Theatre's 2010 Actors Ensemble. Perhaps we pass too swiftly by in a wave of promenading urgency, failing to savour the moment, the image, the faded writings and the details of Louise Morris's creatively inspired installations. And yet, the journey seemed overly long. I sat, relieved, in a chair in the Reading Room for the final scene, almost oblivious to the words that passed over me and entranced by the image of the Mega Moth and its hapless victim.

Ideally, I would need to return several times to devour the power of each image at a less frenetic pace, but even though I may have been robbed of the opportunity to savour every detail of this imaginatively staged event, I am compelled to confront the consequences of the age I live in, its dissemination and collection of knowledge and the consequences of a lost and valuable world. The ambitious conceptual sweep of this production has enveloped me with provocative thought and emotional response, which lingers long after I leave the building.

And that is the true mark of another Canberra Youth Theatre success.


Retrieval – a devised performance installation, Canberra Youth Theatre and the National Library of Australia.
General Concept and Development. Pip Buining.
Director: Karla Conway.
Co-director: Joe Woodward.
Installation Designer: Louise Morris.
Production Designer: Matthew Aberline.
Sound Designer: Kimmo Vennonen.
Original Compositions: Cathy Petocz.
Lighting Designer: Alister Emerson.
Production Manager: Alister Emerson.
Stage Manager: Gemma Baker.
Movement Coach: Barb Barnett.
Vocal Coach: Dianna Nixon.
Assitant Stage Manager: Samantha Pickering.
Publicity and Marketing: K-M Gronow.
NLA Lisaison: Brendan Dahl.

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