Working with Children (2020)

The third iteration of a work that asks: what are we protecting children from?

A choreographic essay that uses a live rehearsal with a group of 11-12 year olds to think through ideas around vulnerability, the risk of exposure and the ethics of working with unpredictable material.

Against a projected text that sits behind and above the children´s heads as a flow of continuous surtitles, a group of 12-year-old children create choreography live in front of the audience. The background text describes a fictional complaint made by a parent about the content of the show and the ensuing fall-out with the commissioning arts centre, interwoven with reflections on safe spaces, the virtues of advisory warnings, and how we behave in private in opposition to our public selves. This imploding, funny text is made up of whirlwinds of thought all caught up in each other: what can we say, what can’t we say, who can say it, who cannot, and what are the implications of saying one thing and doing another.

The piece insists on vulnerability, when the audience very quickly discover they are the unacknowledged observers of a closed rehearsal room and that they really are watching the children working. Their movement at times corresponds – either by accident, suggestion, or association – with the written language, allowing the bodies on stage to constantly slide in and out of focus. Just as there as a duality in the text and movement, the show the audience watch and the show the children experience, there is also a kind of double exposure taking place: the process of being watched by an audience and the personalities of the children slowly revealing themselves on stage.

Written & Directed by NICOLA GUNN
Performance & Choreography NICOLA GUNN and A GROUP OF CHILDREN

Working with Children is a co-production between BIT-Teatergarasjen, Rosendal Teater and Carte Blanche, the Norwegian National Company for Contemporary Dance. Financed by Bergen Kommune and Norsk Kulturråd. Supported by Bergen Dansesenter.