Joyous activism makes for outrageous theatre

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Theatre / “The Trouble-Makers”. Written and performed by Noemie Huttner-Koros, for “You Are Here,” at East Row, Civic, October 27. Reviewed by HELEN MUSA.

CLIMATE-change activist, former Telopea Park School schooler and recent graduate of the WA Academy of Performing Arts, Noemie Huttner-Koros, likes to go straight to the heart of what theatre is about – the engagement between  actor and audience.

Noemie “helps” a guest.

In an extraordinary show staged as the culminating event in the weekend’s “You Are Here” festival, Huttner-Koros appeared at the door of 23 East Row (the now-unrecognisable former Phoenix Bar) dressed in dazzling sequins to welcome a select group of paying guests at a very strange dinner party.

Acting as the hostess of the occasion, she performed a joyous acknowledgment of country from both the Ngunnawal and Nyoongar perspectives, then served up the entree, main course and dessert, all the while chatting affably to the guests, helping them to wash and dry their hands (because you never know where they might have been) and seamlessly introducing the subject dearest to her, the damage wrought by colonisation and “civilisation” on the world in which we live.

As we chatted to neighbours and munched on our salad of wild greens sourced from Canberra backyards, Huttner-Koros opined: “Power saturates but power can be challenged” and then presented the arguments about the Anthropocene or Chthulucene geological ages with the theories of Thomas Moreton, prophet of the term “hyper-object”.

She joked. She sang a song. She got two audience members to read out informative material to us on climate change.

Rejecting the advice of a playwright she had heard at a seminar, she told us all about herself, her upbringing in Canberra, her agrarian scientist father, her experience of the Canberra bushfires (“the sky was like a zombie movie”) and a nasty encounter on the Fremantle train line.

Cheerfully, she asked us to consider what all these things signified. She even showed us pictures of herself dressed up as a climate angel and a koala as she traced her personal history in activism.

This was a short evening. Prompted by a helpful timekeeper, we topped up small compost boxes, adding leaves, soil and water as the meal progressed, before the entire audience headed out to the Sydney Building laneway for some digging.

There was no chance of falling asleep in this theatrical endeavour – it was intellectual, informative, funny, charming  and quite outrageous.

“Our task is to make trouble, to stir up potent response to devastating events,” Huttner-Koros says. One can only speculate on the troublesome subject matter to which she will turn next.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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