Still Point of a Turning World at DreamBIG Children’s Festival – Review
This interactive performance invites you to explore a patchwork of experiences, which will inspire you to question who you are and how you affect the world around you.
by Carla Caruso
I’m always up for new experiences. And going to a show, where attendees are at the centre of an “immersive performance installation”, definitely fits the bill.
That’s the concept behind Still Point of a Turning World, a show put on by Aussie company Carte Blanche at the DreamBIG Children’s Festival. This is its world premiere.
Within a darkened corner of the Queen’s Theatre, three performers animate the room, creating small scenes, poetic images and stories – together with the audience.
Until researching the show, I didn’t realise its title comes from a T.S. Eliot quote. The “still point” is meant to be a place where our souls can find a sense of stillness and peace even as the world continues to change. This seems particularly poignant amid the COVID crisis.
At the start of the show, we have our hands stamped, which aligns us with a small group. (We’re in the ‘snowflake’ group). A performer tells us we’re about to enter a ‘quiet space’ and we must hand over our bags, phones et al. I’m so used to having all my things on me, embarrassingly, it makes me a little uneasy. I go back for my water bottle and then wish I’d also grabbed a tissue, just in case. We also have to remove our shoes and don blue slippers.
We head through black curtains into a room, which is divided into four sections. Our group heads first to a round table. We all sit down, and the performer begins uncrumpling a bit of paper – which somehow sounds musical – and whispers to us about her family. We’re instructed to draw our own fams in liquid paper on other scraps of paper. These are then pushed together at the table’s centre. I realise everyone else has copied the performer’s illustration style, so their families look like constellations, while I’ve drawn stick figures … oops.
Next, we lie on yoga mats, with headphones on, and listen to music of varying tempos and more storytelling. It’s so nice to close my eyes mid-arvo – and be still – that I almost don’t want to get up at the end.
Following this, our group stands in a circle with a performer, with our palms outstretched. In a poetic style, she points out the lines and ‘landscapes’ of our hands.
Finally, we head to another table, where we’re made to sit cross-legged and cup our own hands together. The performer, in turn, pours soil into our palms, which is a surprisingly cool, pleasant sensation. As a garnish, he adds a pebble and leaf sprig. Then he lifts a lid on the table, and we’re all made to plant our little trees and stones inside.
The whole thing’s a strangely meditative experience. Like the promo material says: “As our world turns faster and faster, this is a space to slow down, reflect, and wonder.” And it is indeed.
Rather than my kids finding the experience weird, they’re fascinated by it all. It’s served to stoke their imaginations and look at their surroundings with fresh eyes.
For more information on Still Point of a Turning World, please visit the DreamBIG website here.
What: Still Point of a Turning World at the DreamBIG Children’s Festival – Review
When: 22 – 23 May, 2021
Where: Queen’s Theatre, Playhouse Lane & Gilles Arcade, Adelaide
All photos supplied by Carte Blanche
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