Open up a new tab.
Now do an image search for “the future.”
It’s funny, right? Images of blobby cars, flying things, Nike shoes; everything is blue and there are only cities.
I’m not sure humans are very good at thinking about the future. We can think about tomorrow; we can save some money to make the unknowable manageable; we can make plans for starting families and moving house. But big, new ideas with multiple steps towards improving the way we look after each other and the earth?
The Australian Theatre Forum’s central provocation was to imagine Australian theatre in 2021. Last Saturday night I saw Jo Lloyd’s dance piece Future Perfect.
Jo’s work was the perfect unravelling of the passionate and dreamy conversations I’d shared on performance for the three days prior. As the work begun, I looked at the lycra, at the gold lamé*, at the shining sequins, and thought ‘Man what a strange choice – that’s what we wore for Jazz Ballet concerts as 12 year olds. They’re 100% Rock Eistedfodd in the 90s.’ I left that thought quite quickly as the choreography and extraordinary focus of the dancers was so compelling; the highly aerobic movement combined with a stoic and quiet inner stillness meant for some of the most breathtaking, magnificent dance I’ve seen in a long time. It was an expression of how much closer contemporary dance can sit to my experience of visual art, than it does to theatre. Luke George, in particular – perhaps using his relative maturity and experience – had a quiet casualness in amongst the frenetic jumping and twisting and leaping that was completely addictive to watch.
A bit later in the show, it struck me: those sparkly costumes were actually an insightful and revealing choice. When we think about the future, we are mostly nostalgic. We dream, we are sentimental, we faff around with blobby concepts. We argue without context.
I don’t think I can know enough to strongly believe in “ten years’ time.” The future is important to me but I think I’m more interested in suggestions for tomorrow. Changes that are so important we can’t wait anymore – those are the ideas I’d like to uncover. With some sadness I feel the planet is in a period of fracturing, rather than collaboration – politically and economically. So while I will fight for the potency of collectivity, it does seem that small, individual action is very important right now. And if we want to prompt those individual shifts, that requires urgency.
*Do another image search for gold lamé. WOW!