Jane Grimley and The Deconverters: artists-in-residence June 2014

The Deconverters, Our Presence, June 2014

After much planning and anticipation the The Deconverters - Jane Grimley, Sarah Aghazarmian, Robert Millett and Gideon Payten Griffiths - arrived at Gunyah in late June to work on Emergency Crash Landing. Before we embarked on the drive north we talked about sharing stories, writing, playing and stretching in the studio, and training in performance forms. Yet the best made plans of mice and men often go awry, in the most intriguing ways.

The Deconverters,Recording Sound, June 2014

Emergency Crash Landing is a performance project that could be easily described as an adventure into compromise and divergence.

The Deconverters, Sarah at Tahlee, June 2014

It's basically a choose your own adventure type performance, with loads of audience interaction and sci-fi shtick. Aliens, space warfare, corporate ownership of planets, cryogenic suspension, A.I. humanoid romance - you know all the tropes right? But in the show we're making the audience are asked to to decide upon the fate of the story's heros. It's an inclusive role play using multiple choice questions. We have been very fortunate to have had the support of previous residencies, but never one with the warm atmosphere and history of Gunyah.

The Deconverters, Gideon at Gunyah, June 2014

So there we all were ready to explore. Well, nearly all of us... Sarah and Jane arrived on Sunday, Rob came on Monday and Gideon on Tuesday, but for the sake of the story lets say 'there we all were'.

The Deconverters, Rob and trees, June 2014

There we all were, ready to write up a shit storm in space for unsuspecting audience members, when suddenly we found ourselves in the Tea Gardens Tourist information centre.
Scene 1. Internal, early afternoon.
Sarah and Jane enter the quiet room, natural sunlight fills the space. Christine attends the counter, greeting them with a smile. She is in her late forties dressed in jeans and a cable-knit brown cardigan, she wears a name badge and is very cheerful and helpful. 
Hi! You ladies right? 
Hi, we're actually looking for the information centre... 
Yeah this is the Library 
It's just that building there 
Christine pokes her finger a few times to her right. Knowing better than to act too strange, too soon Jane tries desperately to ignore her oblique whims. Her whim to believe that there is a small and invisible building inside the library. 
Just there? 
Jane, a twinkle in her eye, pokes her finger towards the imaginary building, knowing full well that Christine is talking about the building across the road behind the library. Christine smiles and inquires further about what they are looking for, and suggests perhaps she could help.

The Deconverters, Sarah on Mungo Track, June 2014

After eventually finding the information centre, we followed Christine's suggestion and trod a sandy little bush walk that locals take with their dogs. Paradise found. And paradise lost. The library wasn't the first wrong turn in our journey to being better informed.

On our way into Tea Gardens we clocked a big blue sign that said 'information' but only found a new housing development on the outskirts of town.

The Deconverters, Making Place I, June 2014

The impact of tourism and development was a theme that would follow us during our time at Gunyah, and following signs would introduce us to people who generously shared local knowledge. Dark Point is a significant aboriginal place, we found our way there following a curiously worded pamphlet from the tourist information centre. On Friday we spoke to Len from the Karuah Aboriginal Land Council about writing and representation of story.

The Deconverters, Rob on the dunes, June 2014

All stories will find their way into in the work of artists. Maybe a story from earth before we leave the planet on a space adventure.
Scene 54. Interior.
A politician sits in an office a famous painting hangs on the wall behind her. She is has had a lot of plastic surgery. 
Years ago, when I was first elected there was a tree where a bypass, a road, would go.  It was on someones land.  The tree might have been important.  But then again, all trees were important.  But this one was said to be really special.  The special tree in the special dirt.  Right where you are standing.  Right now.  Under you is dead forgotten dirt.  And it is best you forget it.  It might break your heart or teeth to know it.

The Deconverters, Understanding Place, June 2014

Earth was already over but some romantic notions of legacy lurked about us. Tempting. It would hold us back from being rational. I knew that then. People in the offices knew it was over.

Some hard choices have to be made. Some sacrifices, and who will take the blame today? 

You know three passengers are dead. I suggest you forget what you saw and leave it in the dirt. Earth is over. It's a sacrifice for your chance to survive.

The Deconverters, Tanilba House Beach, June 2014

Thank you to Tea gardens library and information centre, thank you to Barry at Bulahdelah Library, thank you to Richard and Allen at Tahlee Historic House. Thank you Helen and her giant dog at Tanilba Bay. Thank you to the two anonymous bird watchers at the hole in the wall. They told me The Sooty Oyster Catchers I saw at Dark Point are rare beautiful and part of a complex system there looking out to Broughton Island.
Thank you to Gunyah.

Jane Grimley
June 2014

The Deconverters, Making Place II, June 2014

You can read Jane's residency proposal here and find out more about The Deconverters 'Emergency Crash Landing' project at www.thedeconverters.com