It’s about the experience

CROSS-STITCH: Thunderbox

Metro Arts

December 6 – 7

“Somebody suggested this might be a fun thing to come along to,” someone ahead shared as we followed to blue stairs to level four of Metro Arts (who knew there was a level four?), unsure of what awaited. Turns out that ‘a fun thing to come long to’ is a most apt description for the “CROSS-STITCH: Thunderbox” art party.

“CROSS-STITCH: Thunderbox”, the two night event at Metro Arts led by Artistic Director Britt Guy, is a diverse collection of performance and installations works, the experience of which is like traversing through a scrapbook of ideas. And what an assortment of experiences it is, from playing Robert Millett’s short text computer adventure game, to contributing to Lenine Bourke’s “Something Said” collection of amusing and evocative lines from life that have made you feel something.

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M’ck Mckeague’s “Hiding Place” is a definite highlight, as it allows audience members to crawl inside a custom built cubby house, one at a time; the experience booked out quickly on both nights. Another standout is Nathan Stoneham and Park Younghee’s “I will sing to you”, during which you share an elevator with two others, who soon begin lamenting love in words and melody, crescendoing in a rich rendition of song (thanks to amazing elevator acoustics) chosen for you and sung to you (not just for you).

Like any cultural celebration, this event is not only about the individual shows; it’s also about the experience of seeing them and sharing that experience. And in a well-worn tiki-lounge-esque chill out room featuring tranquil projections of beach scenes, sunsets and flowers, conversations about art flow naturally as patrons share experiences, compare favourite “Something Said” lines and share the nooks and crannies discoveries of Edwina Lunn’s “Mouse Art”.

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“CROSS-STITCH: Thunderbox” is a Metro Arts initiative aimed at providing opportunity for emerging Artistic Directors to develop their craft, however, it is also allows audiences to experience art in its many forms as they self-curate a journey through the predominantly interactive works. Indeed, the most remarkable thing about the event, apart from how unconventional it is – is that it showcases such an impressive collection of contemporary Australian artists, featuring names such as theatre-maker Thomas Quirk and choreographer/dancer Matthew Day.

Thomas Quirk asks people to ‘walk with me from A to B’, as you follow vision of his footsteps to anecdote narration of past personal experiences, on an IPOD.  Melbourne based Matthew Day is amenable and charming in his experiment “Open Relationships”, in which he explores unchoreographed encounters with single participants. And this was my definite highlight – being quietly followed and mirrored in movement, dueted in dance and twirled by Matthew Day above the sounds of a city in festive season celebration.

Stay tuned for what Metro Arts has in store; their 2014 program will be launched early in the new year. If, when you envisage theatre, you only imagine a stage, a seated audience, a couple of hours of your time and maybe an usher closing the doors as he house lights dim, then perhaps you should give Metro Arts and events such as this a look, as a means of invigorating your usual theatregoing experience. Not only is CROSS-STITCH: Thunderbox a free event, but it is a surprisingly fun thing to head along to.

*A review of this event also appears on the XS Entertainment website.

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