ROUGH DRAFT: David Paul Jobling
The Fitting Room Dance Theatre
Namaste; I’m here to describe the basis of what I see as a new Immersive Dance Theatre installation that would fit into a traditional theatre space, a gallery space or just about anywhere.
First – the short film I’m screening is called With Love and I made it with a group of dancers including Raymond Blanco the Artistic Director of Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre (1976 – 1998) and Dean Walsh and writers like Damien Millar and Alex Harding in 1996 – I’m showing it to give you a glimpse of some of my previous work.
In a nutshell, who am I?
I’m David Paul Jobling; started out in visual arts and design, trained as a puppeteer, had a natural gift for performance; moved into Theatre-in-Education.
As a teenager I got to hang out with the Lindsay Kemp Company when they were in Adelaide; I was helping the blind dancer Jack Birkett, The Incredible Orlando get around.
I started to write original theatre in my late teens. Ended up writing and directing an interactive children’s play with Bruce Keller called Puppy Love in 1985 at Australian Nuevo Theatre.
Was the Movement Director on Wayne Harrison’s production of No Worries at the Sydney Theatre Company and Faces In The Street for the Festival of Sydney, I worked at Australian Theatre for Young People as the Senior Writers Tutor. Then I became the Artistic Director of Brown’s Lane Theatre – we toured original theatre-in-education through country NSW – particularly a show I wrote called Onkaparinga River which the Department of Foreign Affairs commissioned from me in 1985/6 for the International Year of Peace.
I curated the International Children’s Peace Prize Exhibition at The Wharf for Sydney Theatre Company as a visual arts practitioner, and for Griffin Theatre Company (where Soft Targets was produced in 1986 the first theatrical response to HIV/AIDS in Australia) as a Creative Director (slash) Producer (slash) Dramaturge I programmed the 1989 Development Week.
I programmed play readings of Thieving Boy by Timothy Conigrave, The Death of Joe Orton by Louis Nowra and The Boys by Gordon Graham.
I’ve done other stuff as well, Adelaide Festival Centre Trust produced two of my short plays at The Space, I was a Talking Book for the 2008 Adelaide Festival of the Arts I directed the musical productions Pastiche by Mij Tanith, Bittersweet & The Lonely Man (both) by Jamie Jewell and I worked as a tutor and performer on The Cracked Pot directed by Kat Worth; I had a small role in the silent film Doctor Plonk, written and directed by Rolf DeHeer but I’m paraphrasing through highlights to avoid boring you to tears.
I’ve been called a lot of things; In recent times I have come to be called Australian Father by my Bhutanese/Nepalese family – Tek, Pabi, Rita, Sunita, Monu, Narayan, Yoga, Chakrasan, Bhim, Rogeena and Rhianna.
So, I’m here to describe The Fitting Room.
Since the early part of the last century if you were looking for some new fashion to add to your wardrobe you would attend a fashion house and they would take you to their salon and give you a private showing of their garments.
The salon would be kitted out with artefacts that reflected the history, style and character of the designer.
What is it?
The Fitting Room is a transportable salon sort of like a tent; it’s made of fabric that’s printed on the inside with my original work. It reflects portions of my life as an artist over the last forty years.
The Fitting Room is an intimate salon area where someone can come and relax and be entertained while they select a new original garment.
It may be where you can comfortably fit in and even feel special or superior. It’s all that and more.
The dance theatre I’m proposing will take place both outside and inside The Fitting Room.
It will be both a big shared experience for an audience as well as a very exclusive, intimate experience.
It’s the sort of show you would go along to see in a gallery – an exhibition hall – a warehouse – or a studio space.
The audience would watch from outside the salon and muse at the goings on ‘backstage’ which is outside the salon. In turn, individuals would go inside the salon for their personal private fitting while the rest would still be outside watching what’s going on outside the salon. I worked with Cirque Du Soliel for several months in Sydney and I was very inspired by the world within a world they often create.
Audience members could possibly buy a special ticket that granted them exclusive access into the salon, or it could be part of the show for everyone.
Details such as those are yet to be determined.
Outside we are watching the activities of those who produce the garments; the fabric printer, the cutter, the garment sewer – and the active physical elements of these activities form the basis of the dance taking place.
This dance is directly influenced by the corporeal process of printing, cutting and sewing. It’s also influenced by the character of and influences upon the designer – which involve elemental influences from Bhutan, Nepal and Australia – because I am the designer.
An audience sitting outside the salon would coincidentally be looking at something that may remind them of:
The tenuous process in the 1920s between Coco Chanel and her seamstresses – or:
The Factory and Andy Warhol of the 1960s – or:
A detention centre in Nepal, such as the detention centre where my youngest son Chakra San was born.
My foster family were detained for 17 years before they were invited by the Australian Government to come and live here.
Chakra started his life in detention but now I help him with homework for his UniSA Bridging Course.
All of us spend a portion of our lives learning to fit in – and then we reach a point where we have to discover how to fit into what we have become…
The Fitting Room is dance theatre that reflects on my own process of fitting in with society, after being sorely rejected; it is a whimsical reflection that sings and dances – it doesn’t damn or chastise, it’s not a freak show.
I am not a fetishist attempting to use dance theatre as a means to commodify or gentrify my particular proclivities, I’m a movement director, performer, writer and visual artist drawing significant elements of my life and career together in order to demonstrate parallels between my own unique experiences and the experiences of people displaced or outcast by their societies based on the whims of others.
In the case of my Bhutanese/Nepalese family: In 1988, the Kingdom of Bhutan expelled some 100,000 ethnic Nepalese who became Bhutanese refugees in camps in south eastern Nepal.
In my personal case I went into exile from my home state of South Australia in 1993 because of death threats and social rejection based on misunderstanding and social stigmas attached to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
My vision for The Fitting Room is something that ultimately is compelling entertainment with content that is deeply personal as well as widely universal – relatable to other situations and contemporaneous circumstances.
I believe there is a lot of texture in this handful of elements to imbibe, that will enrich the spirit; there are many potential gesticulations, flourishes and expressions to be shared.
The fun of watching what takes place around the inner sanctum, and then the fully immersive experience of going inside The Fitting Room has great potential I think.
There’s some joy in being privileged enough to discover the secrets that are hidden from view inside The Fitting Room – secrets perhaps because their potency is too strong for the masses.
The drama of practical creativity; the drama of creating garments, of working to order, of a fast turn around, of chaos and repetition…
What fun this dance will be; I invite you to dance with the first 1500 Nepalese refugees that have arrived in South Australia over the last five years, and to dance with one of your own infamous sons.