Image: Kay Armstrong
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An Hour With Kay
I squeezed my bike into the too tiny cubicle of an elevator and pressed the button for the fifth floor, the remnants of anxiety evident in the blasphemous negotiation of the lock against the fenced wall of an adjoining abode. In my complacency I almost missed the place altogether, not recognising the tired mustard entryway, riding right past only to pedal back again twenty minutes later, after being led on a fruitless goose-chase by the unreliability of my Windows map app.
I was determined to enjoy My Hour With Kay.
In the midst of my own manufactured mania, I realised the hour had begun. Resplendent in a big red blousy Hawaiian shirt, an equally oversized visor and bare legs, Kay was placed within a landscape viewed from a narrow bridge, elbow to elbow with voyeurs. Our eyes trained downward on the human section of the heavily graffitied terrain. She moved in increments, shadows playing accross her face, breaking the whole body into a series of garish fragmented shapes, invoking a surrealist immersion whose intent wasn’t immediately fathomed.
This image set the parameters for the whole evening as we were gently guided into a world of constant and unexpected shifting scale. The world of dreams, of the metaphysical, where the body is absent, yet urged to experience close intimacy and empathy from a distance of universal proportions, evident from the introduction by an alter ego, armed with a lifesize cut-out, accompanied by televised apologies in miniature, of the real Kay leaving the scene, to her oversized shadow self tromping diminutive architectures underfoot.
The genius of the work was the navigation of the ethereal, the absurdist subconscious wandering through a minefield of non sequiturs, carefully curated through a series of very corporeal, even mundane physical tasks. We were allocated a mission to recreate the globe. My Japanese compadre found a piece of China. I had hopes that were dashed and recalibrated anew, each time the predicted end drew nigh. We made the world and she created the atmosphere; the fluffy white matter, both obscuring and encapsulating the haphazard jig-saw that is the complexity of humanity.
Kay demanded a unified attention from the audience, our embodiment firmly rooted in the present while our intellectual capacities were alternately massaged and stretched.
She told her ‘dreaming’. This is the place I usually inhabit when I am dancing as part of a corroboree. The magic place that is hard to define but is accessible via a collective energy. It defies the conventions of reality yet entangles/roots us firmly to/in country. Her deft use of language; a conveyance of narratives defying convention, her ability to morph into creator half-beings and the emphasis on simple physical machinations as the vehicle to traverse time and space and meaning.
An Hour With Kay was chock-full of profundity cloaked in frivolity. Made with almost no budget, this is the type of work that precipitates shifts within the mainstream, an example of the independent bravado, wit and humility of the grassroots community who nourish comparitive creative largesse (finances and resources).
An Hour With Kay: Freshworks Season, Old 505 Theatre, June 30 – July 5, 2015
Director/Writer: Kay Armstrong
– by Vicki Van Hout