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 a failed 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.

Central to this iteration of Working with Children (following on from the version presented in 2018) is the continued exploration of the ethics of working with children in live performance for an adult audience, of power and its abuses, and of questioning theatre as a safe space.


Written & Directed by NICOLA GUNN
Performance NICOLA GUNN and 5 or 7 CHILDREN
Choreography SARAH AIKEN and NICOLA GUNN
Sound Design DUANE MORRISON
Lighting Design THOMAS BRUVIK
Costume Design NATALIE SEIFERT ELIASSEN and NICOLA GUNN
Video Design MARTYN COUTTS and NICOLA GUNN


Working with Children (2019) is co-produced by BIT Teatergarasjen, Rosendal Teater and Carte Blanche. Working with Children (2018) was originally commissioned and produced by Melbourne Theatre Company with the support of Performance Space.