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The Disappearances Project

Performance Space, Carriage Works and version1.0 present THE DISAPPEARANCES PROJECT at Carriageworks, Redfern, Sydney.

THE DISAPPEARANCES PROJECT presented by version 1.0 concerns itself with the world of missing persons, and, more specifically, this work deals with the people left behind without ‘closure’.

On an oblong of neat carpet, in front of a large screen for projection, are two high backed, uncomfortable looking, wooden chairs, that, after the production begins, two actors, Yana Taylor and Irving Gregory sit, and in a highly stylised vocal delivery, recall details of the events surrounding the disappearance and the aftermath of the void left by an unexpectedly absent loved one.

The performers are backed by beautiful, haunting film images of deserted suburbia: houses and town landscapes, that begin out of focus and gradually take recognisable shape on the backing screen (Sean Bacon). Pale, pallid and spooky. Accompanying the voices of the actors and supporting the vacant feel of the film imagery is a contemporary score by Paul Prestipino of percussive sound effects, chimes and drones.

As is the usual creative habit of version 1.0, this work was devised through a period of research by the ensemble: Irving Gregory, Paul Prestipino, Yana Taylor and David Williams, a script work -shopped from material gathered from interviews. The company have fashioned a project that focuses not so much on the missing, but rather on “the plight of those left behind”. “Recent research estimates that each missing persons case can directly affect the lives of twelve other people, and be they family, friends or community members, the journeys of the left behind are far from straight forward. … The left behind …. exist in a state of ‘not-knowing’, left ‘stuck’ or ‘frozen’…”

It is a slow evenly paced journey. Focused and tellingly gentle and dreamlike-nightmarish, the pain and suffering, tangible. It is, viscerally, a trying experience, for all. The balance that version 1.0 always have, between the pragmatics of revealing the discovered research and the artistic translating into performance, is always a precarious one. The respect for the discovered content and the pursuit of an artistic form to present it in offers, depending on the subject matter, necessarily delicate decisions. Here, the awkwardly slow delivery, surrounded by the images and sound, manage to strike, mostly, a respectable and successful balance. Still, I was taken from the storytelling, and given time, in the languors of the spoken text to estimate and admire the artistry. The art dominating the content.

“The world is full of missing persons, and their numbers increase all the time. The space they occupy lies somewhere between what we know about the ways of being alive, and what we hear about the ways of being dead” (Andrew O’Hagan, THE MISSING, 1996). This is much what one feels while watching this work.

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald (3rd May,2011) a story of a found body , the family are only partially relieved : “We often talk about the word closure…(but) from my experience … there is no closure. It’s just a transcendence from one realm to another, from one stage to another.”