I watched the last night [May 19] of the Anywhere Theatre Festival’s “Here’s to us” at Jugglers Art Space [Fortitude Valley]. As a partner of the Festival, Jugglers enjoyed the opportunity of providing spaces for new performance art [+ at The Shed ] but it was relatively easy for me to slide into managerial- caretaker -cleaner mode and to let the paying punters experience the joy. But as a strong supporter of emerging artists, I took time out for “Here’s to Us” and was struck by the mature depth of the script and performance.
The script and performance for this work apparently grew out of small group discussions around the meaning of life over 8 months for this eclectic group of young adults. I have felt increasingly cynical about the current generation of 18 – 25 year olds around issues of the big philosophical questions of meaning and purpose. This is not to say this does not exist perhaps symptomatically indicated by the increasing levels of drug and alcohol abuse and mental health issues becoming a disturbing narrative. The intensity of this show though was more than a reality show or group therapy navel gaze. It appeared that authenticity was at the heart of the interaction with the audience supported by a scripted scaffold with an intro, middle and conclusion. My personal and public experience in public speaking, homily/preaching and counselling has been dominated by the kinds of questions raised by this group of largely non-religious actors. I found myself slipping into a reactive mode in response to some of the obvious well acted and yet personally transparent monologues that in one instance sounded like one hair breadth away from total existential despair. I was energised in my all too brief post performance conversations with the cast as their genuine intent to both be real and create more inquiry within themselves and the audience was supported, not by an evangelical Christianity or atheism but by some kind of settled contentment with both the show and their own personal journeys. I was very glad to have hosted such a gig and caused to reflect that the genuine inquiry that made up so much of the 60’s and 70’s has not been completely swallowed up by consumerism and utilitarian tertiary education.