flying, falling and floating toward an unexpected destination
In 2016 an eight metre high statue of Marilyn Monroe was temporarily installed in the middle of Bendigo. The iconic image of Marilyn with her white skirt billowing around her legs was a focal point of the city’s landscape for a number of months.
In the same year Bendigo became a focus for people anxious about a new Mosque that was being proposed. The issue spilled from council sessions to street protests and drew in people from further afield who were eager to exploit the situation.
Both of these things speak about our dreams and aspirations – our hopes. But hopes may be easily manipulated. Advertising and popular culture (music, film, YouTube) direct us to ready-made aspirations, lobbyists and activists direct us to already constructed truths.
Are there other ways to be in the world?
Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) published the story, The Diver, in 1958. It is included in her book of short stories, Anecdotes of Destiny, the last work published in her lifetime. It tells the story of a young man obsessed with the flight of birds and the possibility of reaching and communicating with angels. After his dizzying encounters with someone he believes to be an angel he suffers disillusion and despair. We next meet him years later. He has undergone a transformation and shares his insights into a world that has learnt other ways of valuing the experience of being alive. This is the story that has inspired No Hands.
What drew us to the story initially was the richness and beauty of the language and images that are contained in it. When we looked at it more deeply we saw the potential it had to explore many complex themes including the issues swirling around Marilyn and the Mosque. The story talks about the human condition, idealism, obsession, the manipulative behaviour of people in powerful positions, the striving for truth and also about alternative wisdoms, diversity and other underrated values.
In developing this work we drew and talked about and acted out our own responses to ideas and images from the story (which included everything from Harry Potter to Charlie’s Angels). We focused on the three actions that reoccur in the story, flying, falling and floating. These led us to a structure for telling the story that introduced movement and images as central vehicles for its delivery. We have used some of the original language from the story but have not wanted to rely on that. The story, as a work of literature, has its own extraordinary beauty. We have created a poetic reimagining using a great range of performance elements including gesture, movement, speech, sound, music, light and visual imagery.
CreateAbility based on an original short story, The Diver,
by Isak Dinesen