Melbourne, Australia 2003
Tense Dave can be seen as one man's moment of crisis blown apart like an exploded diagram; each of its components are separated and pushed out to their extremes. Dave journeys through strange and fractured versions of a recognisable world distorted by fears, paranoias and unfulfilled fantasies.Created by some of Australia’s most celebrated artists, Gideon Obarzanek (Artistic Director Chunky Move), Lucy Guerin (Choreographer) and Michael Kantor (Theatre Director), Tense Dave is Chunky Move’s most theatrical work to date.
The initial inspiration of the work came from the idea of simultaneous narratives, as seen in films such as Time Code, Mystery Train and Short Cuts, or in Tom Stoppard’s, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, where other narratives unfold simultaneously around the story of Hamlet. It is a way of seeing the world, where many things are happening and overlapping with each other.
Set on a continually revolving stage, the work has a certain cinematic quality, as personal spaces and domestic scenes are revealed and then obscured and Dave stumbles from one space to another, drawn into the dramas and confusion of the characters he encounters. There is a strong sense of time passing, a fear of not being able to control one’s unforeseeable future, of not knowing what is around the corner.
Sharp, edgy and darkly humorous, Tense Dave is a world in motion created by one of Australia’s boldest contemporary dance companies.
CHOREOGRAPHY AND DIRECTION: Lucy Guerin, Michael Kantor & Gideon Obarzanek
DRAMTURG: Tom Wright
DESIGNER: Jodie Fried
COMPOSER/SOUND DESIGN: Franc Tetaz
LIGHTING DESIGN: Niklas Pajanti
INITIAL DESIGN COLLABORATORS: Bluebottle - Andrew Livingston & Ben Cobham
Winner 2005 Bessie Award for Outstanding Choreography / Creation
On presentation of the 2005 Bessie award for outstanding choreography/creation: "For spinning an ever-shifting world of psychodramas on a turntable; for trumping sci-fi action moves with power-tool sound effects and absurdist genius; and for choreographing an entire ballet for one little finger, in Tense Dave at Dance Theatre Workshop"
Laurie Uprichard, Martin Wechsler, Cathy Edwards 2005 Bessie Award Judge
Tense Dave Highlights Footage
Tense Dave can be seen as one man’s moment of crisis blown apart like an exploded diagram; each of its components pushed out to their extremes. Dave journeys through strange and fractured versions of a recognisable world distorted by fears, paranoias and unfulfilled fantasies.
Combining Lucy’s, Michael’s and my own different aesthetics and style of work, we have created a contrasting series of encounters bound together in a small spinning world. The extraordinarily talented cast who have been able to embrace and switch from one performing style to another have also contributed to the making of this production from its initial concept to the final outcome. Creating Tense Dave has been a truly collaborative effort. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many creative people it has taken to make this work and all of the hard working staff at Chunky Move.
This piece has evolved dramatically since our first rehearsal. It has been a process of containing a multiplicity of ideas and a search for a simple navigation through the extreme natures of the characters. The continual motion of the stage and the use of the panels to hide and reveal the performers have provided unique opportunities both thematically and choreographically. I would like to extend a warm thank you to the performers for their generous contributions to the work, and their forbearance during constantly spinning rehearsals. Thanks also to Gideon and Michael for their vision and talent, and their respectful and supportive approach to the creative process.
The particular challenges of combining theatre and contemporary dance, while avoiding the cringe-making of what comes to mind when I think of ‘dance-theatre’ has made Tense Dave a unique encounter for me. Subtle distinctions in process and what is considered creatively important have meant that I have had to rethink the usual theatrical obsession with meaning and narrative as a starting point. I marvel at this group of dancers and choreographers’ ability to create a shell of a work based on an initial idea, and then fill and infuse it with movement, potency and meaning to create something quite extraordinary. In the end I hope the work is made broader, richer, more complex, and more open to different interpretations as a consequence of the many attitudes and working practices of those that helped create it.