"Each show we make is a result of a deep dive into form. Our trademark style is physically driven, seriously playful, valuing authentic connection with our audience, mixing humour with dance, text, sound, design, and our love of the absurd." Ahead of their highly anticipated season at theatre works, Renowned physical-theatre makers, Born In a Taxi, reFlect on their collaborative practice and how the idea behind their ever-evolving show 'NFP #8' came about.
Q: Where did the idea behind No Former Performer has Performed this Performance Before come from? A: The idea for this work was born from an Artist Residency in Bundanon 2014. Founding member Nick Papas had just left the group and we were at sea with how we would continue developing and building on our body of knowledge with just the two of us. We invited artist associate, musician Micheal Havir to join us with Andrew Morrish and Fiona Roake facilitating the exploration of new improvisational scores to include a musician rather than a mover/performer and a dive into our individual performance styles. The decision to perform with this trio every year till we die was to ensure we would always prioritise our arts practice in the face of the demands of survival in an artist-run independent company, which often means that time in the studio gets knocked to the bottom of the pile. NFP is consciously nimble, answering to no external agenda, giving ourselves pure artistic freedom, and can be done on the smell of an oily rag if need. It has become the catalyst for our creative and artistic survival, giving us a vehicle for ongoing art form development, nourishing our souls, and feeding into the rest of our work. Q: What are some key methodologies or influencers that inform Born in a Taxi's cross-disciplinary practice? A: Whilst Born in a Taxi’ grew out of the work Al Wunder and Theatre of the Ordinary, we have been influenced by each member of the group over the company's lifetime, including David Wells, Nick Papas, Lyn Santos, and Brenda Waite. We draw on an eclectic mix of physical theater practices and preoccupations across dance, theater, music, clown, mime, and visual art. We have trained with John Bolton, Phillip Gaulier, and Giovanni Fusetti who have come from the pedagogy of Le Coq. Master improviser, Andrew Morrish has been our ongoing coach throughout NFP’s lifetime, zooming in for rehearsals from Orbust.
Each show we make is a result of a deep dive into form. Our trademark style is physically driven, seriously playful, valuing authentic connection with our audience, mixing humour with dance, text, sound, design, and our love of the absurd. We have learned the art of interacting with space and people working in outdoor public spaces both here and overseas. Over the past 30 years, we have collectively evolved a unique methodology in ensemble improvisation that underpins all our work.
Q: Do you remember the first time you performed this show and the response you received from the audience? A: Yes, and it was terrifying! I remember we were all warming up in the office of the original La Mama as part of their Explorations season, feeling like crapping our panties. Questioning if it would work, and looking at each other wondering who was going to go on first and feel the piercing expectant gaze of the audience.
The feeling in the audience was electric, they may have been as terrified as us. In those early shows, we were running on pure adrenaline, literally climbing the walls of La Mama like mountain goats. Responses varied from being gobsmacked that it was
improvised to curious as to how we did it. Over the 3 nights, we couldn’t believe how different each show was. With every increasing year, we grow the nuance, style, and texture of the work and trust in each other.
Q: What do you most enjoy about performing as an ensemble?
A: Our shared passion for our art form, our history, trust, the endless debriefs, our love of discovering new scores, the cups of tea, and experiencing the most revealing, intimate, brilliant, terrible, and absurd moments together. Learning that none of us are in control of a piece other than our own split-second responses and decisions. The feeling of being in flow, or ‘on the gravy train’ (as we call it) together as conduits to some creative force bigger than any one of us. We could go on…
Q: For those who have never experienced a Born in a Taxi performance before, what can we expect?
A: I have never been able to describe our work as well as Fiona Scott Norman from The Age:
“Not dance, not theatre, not hilarious comedy, not performance art, and yet, somehow, cleverly all of the above.”
The audience will witness the wonder, mess and genesis of true creativity and hopefully recognise themselves and their own lives in the work. We hope the audience will be inspired to embrace new creative approaches to their own lives. No Former Performer has Performed this Performance Before #8 by Born in a Taxi
10 - 19 August | Theatre Works