Chain reaction

 • “Brutal Baroque” portrait King/Kween by Chrissie Parrott.

A NUCLEAR disaster was the catalyst for the first performance of Facade in Fremantle 35 years ago – and now the show’s been revamped and is back at the same venue.

Featuring robots, puppets, baroque music, quirky portraits and dancers, Facade is a strange and lively jamboree of performance art, touching on our colonial past and the emotional baggage that comes with it.

Created by dance theatre veteran Chrissie Parrott AO, the show will be held in the Moores Building, where the original Facade was shown during the Perth Fringe Festival in 1986.

At that point, Moores had been recently taken over by the City of Fremantle.

“Stefan and I had just returned from living in Stockholm with our son Griffeth. We left because Chernobyl had literally just blasted,” Parrott says.

“This work was the first piece we made, and so yes I have a fond memory of that time and the beautiful Moores building was at the beginning of its new life also.”

Adding to the parallels and symmetries, dancer Stefan Karlsson, who performed in the original Facade, will feature in the new production.

He will be joined by five other dancers, opera singer and comic Paul Rowe, actor Bruce Denny and musician Matt Jones.

Facade is a singular work that sits as a little gem inside a vaudeville style performance scoring of many short vignettes with a baroque overture live music and nine performers,” Parrott says.

“The issues of colonial histories, the prevalence of visual culture and the place of the body in society are still relevant and regarding the social hiding and band aids we apply to so many leading political issues.”

Nuclear disaster

Parrott has pulled out all the stops for the visually stunning show creating a 5x8m baroque style “proscenium arch” – festooned with up-cycled objet d’art including 1000 decorated pointe shoes – and 15 striking portraits of performers she has worked with.

Upstairs at the gallery, the audience can enjoy the Simulacra Lounge, where artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman has created a laboratory filled with curiosities including automata, figurative artworks and vintage technological objects. Oh, and there’s a robotic ballerina for good measure.

This year Parriott received an Order of Australia in recognition of her contribution to dance theatre over the past four decades.

During that time she has constantly pushed the envelope, creating more than 90 works and collaborating with the likes of WA Ballet, Perth Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company.

Parrott now lives in Nannup, where she is still heavily involved in the arts.

“Always curious and a realist, I’m inspired by observing the beauty and ugliness in people and events local and global,” she says.

“I hope to stay involved in the area of mentoring, and now that I am a regionally-based artist to facilitate bringing small scale contemporary theatre dance and music to be performed in our beautiful historic town halls and perform for regional folks in smaller towns.”

Facade is on September 12 – 20 at the Moores Building on Henry Street. Tix at trybooking.com/BTGEY

Parrott’s “Brutal Baroque” portraits are free to view from September 10 – 20.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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