Monday, November 02, 2009

The play’s the thing

One of the problems with installations, no matter how good they are, is that their scale often makes it unlikely you’ll get to see them again. The two photographs were taken during Stuart McKenzie’s play Biography of my skin, a one person show performed by his wife Miranda Harcourt - well two person as it turned out. The image on the screen behind Miranda is a film clip from the 1993 one hander Verbatim starring Miranda and devised by her and writer William Brandt. The set and props for Verbatim, a range of blonded items and a large text banner “if”, which you can also see on the screen, were created by an et al member, Marlene Cubewell. While the installation has probably seen its last outing we’re told it is still intact.

Stuart and Miranda have collaborated with a number of artists over the years. Portraits had four Ronnie van Hout photographs as the main elements of the set, and Billy Apple designed the audience seating every night the play was performed in Auckland. In Flowers from my mother’s garden (1998) photographs by Robin Neate were projected on the large screens that were an integral part of the set.

In theatre the striking of sets and moving onto the next production is second nature. In the visual arts it still feels like a loss.

Images: Miranda Harcout performing in Biography of my skin with et al's set for Verbatim featured on the screen behind her. Biography of my skin was performed at Downstage theatre from 9 to 31 October