Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rioting Teens

It's Melbourne Festival time again, but this year I haven't been quite as enthused as I have been in previous years. Which is kind of dumb, seeing as one of my closest mates here in Melbourne is the head of ticketing, so I have access to a range of freebies!  There are really only a handful of shows I want to see, which is a first for me in an arts festival.

However, tonight I DID see one of the shows I was really excited about - Teenage Riot, by the amazing Belgian theatre company, Ontroerend Goed.  I've known these guys for a while - I saw the first work in this trilogy (Once And For All We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up And Listen) at Edinburgh Festival in 2008 and was blown away. These teenagers were loud, opinionated, brave, daring, unapologetic, savvy, scary and a million other adjectives I would NEVER have used on myself at that age. Then, about six months later, while working at Sydney Festival before moving down to Melbourne, I got a chance to work with them on one of their adult works - Smile Off Your Face, where they sat 'audience' members in wheelchairs, bound their hands together, blindfolded them and wheeled them through a full sensory experience. It was one of the most gob-smackingly incredible experiences of my life. To this day, I don't think I've seen/experienced anything (in an artistic/theatrical sense) which could top it.


Anyway.  Tonight was Teenage Riot. The sequel to OAFAWGTYWWASSUAL (yeah, I could cut and paste, but why do that when it's fun to type a seemingly random combination of letters?!).  Next week is the final part of the trilogy, All That Is Wrong, which looks just as incredible.

So what is it about these shows that's so amazing? I don't think I can condense it down to a simple answer. There is nothing even remotely simple, or even explainable, about this company's work. They push boundaries, they step across lines, they throw things (metaphorically and sometimes literally) in your face.  They challenge you. They make you think. They make you question.  Especially these kids.  They really made me question my place in the world and the world I will one day leave behind, but they do it in a way that is not overly accusatory or preachy.  It's a very fine line they tread, but they do it so well and so powerfully.


"I look at you and I don't see an example. I see a warning."

Somewhere along the line, I've become the adult that these teenagers talk about. I don't feel like it. I'm sure a lot of times I don't act like it. But I am. And that's a pretty sobering (and scary) thought.

If you're in Melbourne over the next three nights, I highly recommend you try and see this show. It's not expensive ($49 for a full price ticket) and will not only make you think, but genuinely entertain you.  

Oh and if you do see it, let me know. We can discuss the worm, the tornado and the twizzler. Holy crap, but I was impressed by the twizzler.  Find me a guy who's willing do that for me and I'll be forever in your debt.





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