SOMETHING caught the eye of choreographer Dean Cross one day as he rode along the streets of Leichhardt.
In a pile of rubbish, a journal written by a man, referred to as S____ T____, was picked up, taken home and read by Cross. Intrigued and compelled to share his discovery, Cross, as the messenger, now delivers the words and therefore the thoughts, contained in S’s journal.
Cross has resisted the urge to create a dance work from this material, questioning the limitations of dance and has opted instead to recite the words, verbatim, that he has read and reread many times.
‘S’ begins his journal in January 1996 when he is 500 days into his eight year prison sentence in Junee. We discover through the following months that he is 25, and possesses a strong determination, apparent as he writes of his goals to complete his studying while incarcerated, to better himself and the world, to save money, quit smoking and remain positive.
‘S’ poses existential questions to himself and also suggests answers as he tries to find his identity.
With time literally on his side, he ponders the universe, work, his future house and his disappointment and response to not receiving mail from “mumblies” as he calls his mother. His thoughtful insights and vivid descriptions clearly show an empathetic and intelligent man, dealing with his situation with humour and acceptance. He writes with wit of the highs, such as receiving 97 per cent in his English exam, and the lows, contemplating suicide.
‘S’ is engaged with life and other people and his non-judgemental descriptions of inmates and their crimes are at once confronting and tender. Some entries are profoundly to the point …“Life takes practice”.
The material gave the audience food for thought whilst evoking empathy for and interest in S’s pursuits and writings.
Cross’ “no-frills” delivery worked, using only a desk, downlights and a copy of the journal entries. This allowed S’s words to speak for themselves, as was the intention.
This appeared to be a cathartic experience for Cross, who spoke of a connection to the messages in the journal. He performs the work at perhaps a similar age that ‘S’ was when he wrote the journal, which added credibility and impact to the performance. This short piece of theatre, staged in the dance studio of QL2 but not dance at all, was an unexpected, thought-provoking gem.
In a beautiful revelation, we discover ‘S’ harboured a desire to become a writer, and although he never states that his journal is or will be for public consumption, a single entry beginning “Dear reader” is an eerie coincidence.
On leaving the performance we hope ‘S’ is out there somewhere achieving his goals and dreams.
A serendipitous discovery means that in pursuing his own creative ambitions and dreams, Cross may have fulfilled another’s.