Power Up! Fog Theatre on Wellbeing

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Produced by Vitae Veritas and The Arts Wellbeing Collective, Power Up! is a brand new performance energy video by Fog Theatre and video artist Kate Geck. Power Up! was made in the living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and offices of the performers and creatives during 2020.

Through abundant visuals, music, dancing and voice-over narration, Power Up! explores positively re-engaging with performance spaces and creative work after a period of isolation due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Power Up! is an energising work that moves us all towards increasing connection, getting out and about again, and coming back to the stage.

Led by Artistic Director Nilgun Guven, Power Up! showcases the performances, artworks and voices of Fog Theatre Ensemble, an incredible group of emerging and established theatre and dance artists including:

Clem Baade, William Bailey, Michael Buxton, India Boyd, Ian Caplan, Tim D’Rozario, John Eslick, Lincoln Holt, Debbie Lissek, Jordan Low, Mattie Michael, Mark Polonsky, Danny Quinlivan, Ruth Ruschinek, Melissa Slaviero, Brinley Stephens and Eleanor Vogdanos.

Power Up! combines the evocative language of the theatre with personal reflections to provide a strong sense of community for all people who work creatively. It is, above all, a resounding affirmation and acknowledgement of hope, encouragement and empowerment for everyone in the performing arts as we get back to creative work, workplaces and collaborations again.

Three distinct versions of the work have been produced:

Spotlight recently met with Fog Theatre and took part in their weekly face-to-face session. Spotlight chatted with members of the Ensemble about what they do to look after their mental health and wellbeing, how they support each other, how they devise work, and what performing means to them.

Spotlight also chatted with lead artist Nilgun Guven from Vitae Veritas and collaborating video-artist Kate Geck. You can read the interview with Nilgun and Kate here

What do you do at Fog?

Melissa: At Fog we dance, do acting, sing, warm up, stretch, do solos. We move, have adventures, make movies, rehearse, do shows. We use our voice, talk, play instruments, do duets, celebrate birthdays, meditate, share our energy, share our feelings. We work with other artists, performers and volunteers.

What kinds of things do you to look after yourself and to feel happier?

Tim: Making friends and being happy about yourself.

Michael: I make my own coffee and I watch TV shows. If my brain is too small, I do puzzles. If my brain is too big, I go for a walk. If my brain doesn’t work, I watch movies.

Mark: People to see, people to talk, people who can see me. You need to be respectful and also including.

William: I feel good. I like music and dance.

Clem: I go to the park and stand in the middle of the park and let it all out.

Tim: Caring for yourself is to enjoy yourself, and all the fun. I meet new friends, and old friends, and I’m happy about myself.

Melissa: All I know is that if friends, some friends, are happy to me then I would like that.

Tim: I have a personal trainer and I also have a glass of water every day. And I do things to get ready, like have a shower and eat healthy foods in moderation.

How do we look after ourselves at Fog Theatre and make others feel good (or welcome)?

John: Help each other.

Debbie: Making friends, talking to each other.

John: I make them laugh. It makes them very happy. By doing this [smiles with eye contact].

Michael: I just do what other people would do. I improvise something! I use my acting method. Stay in a character. I make people laugh and be entertaining.

Tim: Having good days and a good time and making friends with one another. And having good performances and connecting.

By being myself. Being friendly and loving to one another. Share my thoughts and being in community.

Just to be happy about yourself, respect others and be polite to others and have a good time. And to make friends and be friendly to one another with good friendship and loyalty.

How do you start devising a show from scratch?

Melissa: It’s like a recipe. A recipe needs ingredients. We need people – performers, directors, other artists. We need to know who they are, what they are like, what they want to do. 

We need to try things, we need ideas and to learn things. We need to find out. We need time and money and support. We need somewhere to perform, a stage. We mix it all up. We like it. We need the audience. They like it.

What do you like about being a performer? What does being a performer mean to you?

Melissa: When I perform on stage inside of me is like a star and my heart comes out. Fog Theatre gives each individual a story to tell. Being at Fog helps me to tell my story and come out. I like spending time with my friends. I like being happy and learning in a good way.

Clem: I’ve been performing since ’91. I like performance and dance because I want to show all the community – don’t be scared.

The atmosphere of being on stage with Fog, it brings me lots of joy, wonder and beauty to work with such an incredible theatre company. When I move my body I feel inspired and it gives me the energy to focus on my dancing career.

John: I get to come here, I like coming here. I like doing this [gets up, dances] dancing.

Jordan: I feel back at Fog, I’m useful. I can talk at Fog. Looking at friends, good friends, and I can talk, it gets bigger. I can get friends. I come here again. Useful.

Ruth: It’s great to be back in 2021! It’s amazing for everyone to be here and perform together.

About

Led by Artistic Director Nilgun Guven, Power Up! showcases the performances, artworks and voices of Fog Theatre Ensemble, an incredible group of emerging and established theatre and dance artists including: Clem Baade, William Bailey, Michael Buxton, India Boyd, Ian Caplan, Tim D’Rozario, John Eslick, Lincoln Holt, Jordan Low, Debbie Lissek, Mattie Michael, Mark Polonsky, Danny Quinlivan, Ruth Ruschinek, Melissa Slaviero, Brinley Stephens and Eleanor Vogdanos.

Fog Theatre is a dynamic and diverse performing arts program for adults with disability where members explore and develop skills in drama, acting, singing, improvisation, script, dance, movement and choreography in a socially, creatively and culturally inclusive, safe and welcoming environment, supported by highly experienced inclusive arts practitioners and accessibility specialists.

Fog Theatre’s bold artistic practice and culture of inclusivity embeds creative leadership development opportunities and nurtures vital pathways to further artistic collaborations, partnerships and exchanges across industries and sectors, as well as the production and presentation of numerous critically successful theatre and film works since its formation in 1991.

Kate Geck is an artist who works with code and textiles to create interactive surfaces and immersive spaces. Her PhD explores extended reality (XR) experiences that reimagine human computer interaction to mindfully engage the body, drawing on somaesthetics, offering an alternative to ‘attention-extracting’ design systems.

Kate has exhibited locally, online, and abroad, with funding and commissions from a range of organisations. As an Industry Fellow in Interior Design at RMIT, Kate collaborates with diverse creative organisations such as Artful Dodgers, Signal Arts, Polyglot Theatre, 100 Stories, Charcoal Lane and Fog Theatre.

Vitae Veritas is a not-for-profit arts and cultural organisation based in Melbourne with a dedicated aim to promote and support cultural diversity, artistic excellence and inclusive arts leadership. At the centre of VV’s work it champions people, their creative practice and explores the role of artistic experimentation and how this directly informs co-designing accessible creative and aesthetic innovations and strategies for collaboration.

Founded by Nilgün Güven, a Turkish-Australian producer, director, artist and culture agent, Vitae Veritas’ ethos and practice is concerned with the intersectionality of human rights, inclusion & access, aesthetic innovation and creative production.

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