Content warnings: BUNKER contains coarse language, heightened psychological states, haze / smoke effects, loud music, and strobe lighting effects. Recommended for audiences aged 15+.
What would you do if you received an alert that your world was ending? Who would you call? Where would you go, and what would you take with you? These were the questions at the heart of BUNKER, a work inspired by the false missile alert that was issued in Hawaii in 2018. Technology, dance, circus, and film blended together with an original score in this high-intensity dance theatre work co-created and co-directed by choreographer Lisa Wilson and video designer Nathan Sibthorpe, which made its world premiere at Metro Arts for a limited season in October.
Lisa Wilson’s sharp, athletic choreography was performed by a cast of four – Hsin-Ju Ely, Jayden Grogan, Alex Warren, and Asher Bowen-Saunders – who entered the stage barefoot and wearing suits, peeling away layers of costuming over the course of the performance. Movement motifs recurred throughout, and choreographically the work came full circle in a satisfying way.
Group work, duets, and solo sections performed by the dancers intertwined with pre-recorded video design, live projections, and props and set pieces. The most memorable moments of the work were created in these intersections between physical and digital, both live and pre-recorded: the illusion of a performer’s body slowly dissipating into particles of light; an impassioned solo by Hsin-Ju Ely behind a clear panel at the rear of the stage, mimicking or interacting with a pre-recorded version of her own movements; a live feed of a performer slowly rearranging tiny furniture in a model house.
BUNKER explored the human response to fear and danger, but also our relationship to technology and to our own image. The performers danced with one another, with their shadows, and with projected images of themselves. BUNKER spoke directly to the audience through a voiceover, and words scrolling in red LED across the back wall told the story in second person, placing the audience more firmly in this scenario.
An original score composed by Guy Webster incorporated intense, heavy percussion that heightened the sense of panic present in the work and conjured strong, ominous imagery from a heartbeat and a Geiger counter to an airplane engine and laboured breathing. Lighting design by Christine Felmingham interacted with design elements by Rozina Suliman, as well as with the dancers and the video elements co-designed by Nathan Sibthorpe and Jeremy Gordon. A series of large picture frames were used as props and set pieces throughout, and these too were integrated in Felmingham’s lighting design. Handheld live feeds from both video and heat cameras offered a unique perspective on movement, and the performance also played with variations in temperature using the heat cameras.
BUNKER occupied a space between genres that mirrored the state of uncertainty unfolding in the performance’s themes. A rich exploration of intersections and in-betweens, this was a dynamic and high-intensity performance incorporating a wide range of physical and digital mediums to explore the intersection of both in the context of danger.
BUNKER will play at Metro Arts, West End, from 20 – 22 October 2022.