THE PRESENCE OF WOOL - an immersive and quirky look at the history of wool in Albany!
Story provided by AusDance (WA) and images photographed by Bob Symons.
We’ve been busy finalising the Rain Dance script and we know Rural Roomies are very excited for us to get moving so we can screen the series in select shearing sheds around regional Australia! However, if you’re in Western Australia, you’ve got a unique opportunity this weekend to watch a LIVE dance in a secret shearing shed in an exclusive performance of The Presence of Wool!
Due to overwhelming demand, an extra performance of The Presence of Wool has been released for this Sunday! These tickets are strictly limited and are available online now.
This contemporary dance work, choreographed by Symantha Parr, reflects on the Old Albany Woollen Mills, the workers and their stories. Samantha says, “It’s really exciting to have sold out two shows and to be able to offer a third! I’m looking forward to sharing this really different event with everyone. It’s not everyday that you get to dance in a shearing shed, and not everyday that you get to view a quirky performance in a rural setting. I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to create art in this original setting.”
Utilising oral histories and actual sounds recorded in the woollen mills, local sound composer James Gentle creates an enthralling soundscape to illustrate the narrative. Community members, in company with student and professional dancers, portray the unending cycle of back breaking and deafening work of the Woollen Mill, whilst the presences and ghosts of the decaying factory dance and daydream of other things. Up-cycled costumes created by local artisans adorn the dancers and created wool art decorates the rural site.
The sold out performances will take place on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 April 2019. An additional show has been added for Sunday 14 April 2019. Patrons will arrive at the secret location in Narrikup by a free bus leaving Albany Entertainment Centre at 6:00 p.m. and returning at 8:45 p.m.
To develop this woollen story, Symantha Parr conducted a community investigation into The Old Albany Woollen Mill, utilising historical recollections and photos to shed light on its unique story and impact on Albany. Community workshop sessions have been held since July last year to engage Albany youth, community members and fibre artists in the story. These community members have worked together to create the movement, costuming and wool installation for the project in a mutually creative and satisfying way.
The movement stems from the activities the Mill workers would have undertaken each day; gestures and actions are stylised and abstracted into performance. The use of wool is an integral and tactile element of the performance, acting as costume, set and even a multi headed woolly monster.
Denmark-based Sound Artist James Gentle has produced the original score using sampled voices from past workers, machinery sounds and popular songs from the 1950’s. In performance, The Presence of Wool will engage three professional dancers - Rita Bush, Talitha Maslin, and Cayleigh Davies.
The Presence of Wool has been supported by Ausdance WA, Country Arts WA and the State Government’s Creative Regions program through the Regional Arts Partnership Program. This contemporary dance partnership encompasses projects across the Peel, Esperance Goldfields and Great Southern Regions with individually tailored programs addressing the varied needs of the communities.
The Presence of Wool is just one step in establishing an artistic collective and hub for dance in the Great South Region. In addition The Presence of Wool has been supported by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC), Albany Arts Festival and Vancouver Arts Centre.
Tickets can be purchased here and more information is available here.