Picnic in the Drift

1981

This multi-disciplinary performance/installation focused on the influence of the nuclear industry upon the history and future of our lives. A hybrid explosion of opera, dance, music, video, architecture and collaborative theatre, Picnic in the Drift evolved as a series of tableaux, using a densely choreographed layering of dance and movement to symbolize intense debate, boxing bouts, bow-and-arrow duels, and various other competitive sports or warrior games. Individual narrative interwoven into these images featured a pioneer mother waging battle against the hardships of a solitary life in the wilderness; a scientist (based on the American physicist, Robert Oppenheimer) confessing to love and fearing extinction of either his feelings or his work; two men engaging in dialogue and sport, only to discover their explorations were being undermined to fuel an ailing and threatened enterprise; and a young woman telling her personal story about growing up in a nuclear-powerplant town, being poisoned, and being told that there was no danger. These and other narratives were underlined in turn by large-screen video presentations (filmed action and close-ups, bulletin boards, and staccato, Telidon-flashed messages) and slide images of maps, chemical equations, objects, and nuclear plants. Sound effects included a dense pastiche of ticking, clicking, humming rhythms, bells, voices, and a “red alert” warning that became louder and louder as The Bomb fell.

Written and produced in collaboration with Rina Fraticelli
Producer: Burke Taylor
Video: Colin Campbell
Choreography: Odette Oliver
Sound: Terry Crack
Director: David McIlwraith
Slide design: Lynne Fernie
Lighting and Set design, Technical Director: Jim Plaxton
Production Consultant: Peter Freund
Video Technician and Operator: Chris Clifford
Video Operator: Tom Lux
Telidon Graphics: Bill Perry
Board Operator: Peter Gerber
Stage Manager/Sound Technician: Mark Fine
Master Carpenter: Bob Pearson
Property Master/Slide Operator: Arron Moses
Costume Consultants: Fina MacDonell and Margaret Ramsdale
Technical Consultant: Tim Crack
Technical Assistants: Bob Greene, Caryn Colman, and Sue Gomez
Carpenters: Paul Stoesser and Brian Fowler
Production Assistant: Anna Barron-Schon
Poster Design: Rick/Simon
Publicity: Jane Farrow
Fundraiser: Sheilagh Crandall
Archery Coach: Bill Whitcombe
Boxing Consultant: Tony Unitas, Tim Crack
Camera (precorded video): Rodney Werden
Video cast: Colin Campbell (John the Scientist); Ann McFarland (Nancy);
and Alex Wilson (The Plumber)
Pianists: Edward Moroney and Gerry Diver
Narration/Announcer: Glenn Luff
Performed by John Blackwood (Competitor I); Alex Fallis (Powerkeeper); Jim Garrand (Competitor II); Marion Gilsenan (Celeste); Odette Oliver (Angel/Worker); Wendy Springate (Woman from Munroeville); and Roxolana Roslak (Madame Butterfly)

Slideshow

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