THE ARRANGEMENT - JONATHAN COOPER
THE ARRANGEMENT has an astounding role call of talent that has been summoned to collaborate on a work of art: Visual, Music and Dance, by Mr Unsworth - the Arts. All, compelled by their artistic longings and disciplines, for those of us, less gifted, relatively, ordinary ones, who are entranced by the gifts of the extraordinary. Ken Unsworth has collaborated, once again, with the AUSTRALIAN DANCE ARTISTS: Susan Barling, Anca Frankenhaeuser, Patrick Harding-Irmer, Ross Philip (and Norman Hall); but also, this time, with Roland Peelman and THE SONG COMPANY: Clive Birch, Richard Black, Mark Donnelly, Anna Fraser, Hannah Fraser and Susannah Lawergren, and have invited composer, Jonathan Cooper, to create a program of song and incidental dance music, using the poetry of A.E Houseman (How Clear, How Lovely Bright, 1936), F.G. Lorca (Gacela Del Amor Despesperado - Desperate Love, 1931-34), W.H. Auden (Law, Like Love - 1939), Barnabe Googe (Out of Sight, Out of Mind - c.1580) and Rainer Maria Rilke ( Immer Wieder - Time and Again - 1914). Mr Peelman, on piano, leads musicians: Ollie Miller (cello), Lamorna Nightingale (flute), Jason Noble (clarinet). This is, then supported by a creative team: Lighting, Eddi Goodfellow; AV Design, Tim Hope; Costume Design, Pamela McGraw; Set Construction by Richard Harrison with Chris Axelsen and Eamonn McLoughlin who also join the stage crew of four - heroes, all: Emma Bedford, Chas Glover, Daniel O'Shea, Annie Winter.
In 2011, Mr Unsworth gave us, AS I CROSSED THE BRIDGE OF DREAMS. In 2013, SOIREE SFORZA. THE ARRANGEMENT, beginning (in my memory) with an AV set of portraits of the Dancers, in profile and out front, projected on to the back wall of the stage space, whirl backwards into the spheres of 'time'. Mr Unsworth, like a Prospero, 'floats' behind a masked 'piano' shape, and presents to us, a tuning fork, that he strikes, and on cue, Mr Peelman and his orchestra, begin the journey created by composer, Jonathan Cooper. A figure is 'exhumed' (a pregnant female) from the bowels of the stage and is floated into the roof above, quietly chanting: "Again. And again. Again and again. ..." ,whilst doing so. Ninety minutes later, we have an image of a body being laid out, interned, on the earth, and then watch (through the magic of Mr Hope and his video imaging), the 'spirit' of the body rise into the air, accompanied by the return of the fecund figure to the bowels of the 'earth', reciting still: "Again. And again. Again and again. ...."
The poetic content of this work, for me, dwelt on the inevitable passing of time and the inevitable crumbling of the corporeal body - the inevitable coming of death, that is surpassed, with human philosophical inventiveness, with the passionate surmise in the resurrection of the human experience in the gifted works of Art, that represent our 'spiritual-self', for all times. In the final sequence of this work, a little child, joyful in his playing on his wooden horse (Trojan, do I ironise?), is watched wistfully by parents, dressed in the white trappings of death, and we feel our faith spring eternal in THE ARRANGEMENT, of again and again, the cycles of nature, and the gift of ART. This is the most ambitious work conjured by these artists, here, in the studio of Mr Unsworth in Alexandria. The vision of such a thing, the complexities of this vision, staged technically, with all the old practices of yore, with the ingenuities of a stage-craft of engineering, that is wholly wielded by the participation (invention) of the sweat and muscle of the human 'animal', in every area of endeavour, in this space, (bar, the video installations) is a humbling and exhilarating experience to share. Visual artist, constructors and manipulators of that vision, costumier, lighting artist and technicians, poets, director, music composition, instrument playing - both created and human (the voices) - the dancers and choreographers, all achieve an experience of inspiration for those of us watching and who want to continue to create with them. From my Macquarie Dictionary: "Wonder"
…a miracle, or miraculous deed or event
…the emotion excited by what is strange and surprising