Working With Children (2019)


Working with Children is a choreographic essay that looks at the problem of intimacy and exposure by exploring the nature of performance and the curiosity of artists who make contemporary performance with children for an adult audience. The work plays with improvisational and choreographic strategies to create the potential for risk; unpredictable material to create the potential for live-ness and the unrehearsed moment; pedagogical tactics to create the potential for vulnerability; and new ways of writing and using text in performance that is interested in incompleteness in order to leave space for open-ness.

Performed with a different group of children each time, whose only rehearsal consists of two 2-hour workshops prior to the performance, it is an attempt to perform a kind of radical and joyful vulnerability. With a seemingly unconnected collection of anecdotes that spin around a central core without ever naming it, the audience is invited to wonder about the effect of language on the body as five children learn choreography live in front of them. Through this accumulation of purposeless movements that are slowly built up and pieced together and a tangential, divergent monologue with vaguely orbiting ideas about appropriateness, shame, what we look to protect children from, ethics, empathy and imagination, language and power, there is created a tension between the children’s live copying, the authority of the artist and the audience’s gaze. The work plays with the idea that we can find a different way of behaving by finding a different way of inquiring and of listening. 


Directed, Choreographed & Written by NICOLA GUNN
Sound Design DUANE MORRISON
Lighting Design THOMAS BRUVIK
Costume Design NATALIE SEIFERT ELIASSEN & NICOLA GUNN
Video Design MARTYN COUTTS & NICOLA GUNN


Working with Children is co-produced by BIT Teatergarasjen, Rosendal Teater and Carte Blanche. Working with Children was originally commissioned and produced by Melbourne Theatre Company with Performance Space. The first development season was presented in the Lawler Studio in Melbourne in September 2018 and at Liveworks Festival in Sydney in October 2018 with the following credits: Video Design NICK ROUX Sound Design KELLY RYALL Lighting & Spatial Design BOSCO SHAW Costume Design EUGYEENE TEH Script Dramaturg JON HAYNES Choreography SARAH AIKEN Stage Management MEG RICHARDSON.