A QUILT OF SKITS
Creative team: Moss Patterson, Chris Graham, Mike Baker, Peter Hobbs
AV/film: Votre Arme
Designer: Jessika Verryt.
at Silo Park, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland
From 12 Jan 2013 to 13 Jan 2013
Reviewed by Reynald Castaneda, 12 Jan 2013
This weekend's Crossroads is a fun diversion at Auckland's Silo Park. An al fresco theatrical experience by Mixit – a multicultural youth project with a focus on empowering young people with refugee backgrounds – it's the kind of event that makes Auckland such a wonderful place to be during the summer.
A tapestry of theatre and dance with a taste of Brazilian carnival, Crossroads portrays different migrant experiences with a cheeky wink.
As Crossroads begins, it feels more like a pedestrian curiosity rather than a full-on invite to street theatre. Three groups of ten performers each emerge out of nowhere. Decked out in fancy costumes – from sequined boleros to pinstriped gangster suits – they sing and dance to attract audiences to converge on them. As it's an outdoor performance, it teases our desire to eavesdrop.
These three groups depict three different narratives. The one that I followed portrays an English migrant from the 1980s as he recollects his journey through snow-covered mountains to his keen audience who probably have never seen the snow. The other group has modern backpackers interacting in awe with African locals, while the third group was a bit too distant from me to make sense of.
Eventually, they all converge. Crossroads reveals itself as a quilt of skits with a focus on the migrant experience. Charmingly depicted, it is sometimes reminiscent of Jacques Tati's Playtime wherein there's so much movement and storytelling in a specific moment. Within its 40 minute running time, audiences are transported to – for example – far-flung markets and border crossings with corrupt immigration officers.
Crossroads is not so much about dialogue but about atmosphere, and it succeeds. Its main strength though is its venue. Auckland's Silo Park is an amazing space. As the performers use the entire space as its stage, they are freely mobile from one side of the park to the other. That said, they could use the venue more strategically and thoughtfully. The pit-stops on their journey sometimes feel a little random and I can't stop imagining what their singing voices would sound like echoing inside those silos.
The performers are a joy to watch. They all radiate with energy and contagious smiles. It's clear to see that Mixit's objective, as an artistic outlet for these migrant youths, is a successful one. Here's hoping we see more of them in the future.
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