Collaboration || Brief Encounters – Toowoomba, 2018

Presented by the Empire Theatre and curated by studio artist, Kirsty Lee, ‘Brief Encounters – Toowoomba’ took to the Armitage Centre stage over two evenings (September 28th & 29th, 2018).

Met with dedication and vigour, this production challenged both artists and audiences to think beyond traditional limitations of performance.

Photography: Theresa Hall

Words: Grace Dewar

Brief Encounters is an interdisciplinary performance experiment that fuses genres and pushes artistic boundaries. Five years on from when Brief Encounters first hit Toowoomba, this second iteration invited different disciplines and collectives to dive head first into new work for stage under tight time constraints.

Originally conceived by the Tomorrow Collective in Vancouver, Canada in 2005, Brief Encounters – Toowoomba, 2018 brought together 10 diverse acts from a variety of disciplines, put them in unusual pairs and gave them two weeks to create a new work. Pairings of local creatives included:

Comedy trio, The Boyos Shindig x Sculptor / Performance Artist, Paddy Long

Classical Ballet Dancers, Mia Huston & Grace Tame x Photographer / Video Artist, Chloe Dalamaras

Actor / Writer, Wren B Condren x Composer, Connor Fogarty

Video Artist / Photographer, Sissi Hue x Drag Performer, Opheliac Maxx

Aerial Artist, Natasha Behr x Sculptor / Visual Artist, Laurie Oxenford

Under the guidance of Australian Artist and Producer, Kirsty Lee, Brief Encounters – Toowoomba, 2018 saw “cement slabs being smashed mid air by a mallet wielding aerialist, a gender bending theatrical extravaganza, dildos in a 1950's Lynchian period piece, contemporary dance and a composition and theatre work that circled around the question, ‘who are you?'

I hold a deep admiration for the artists who willingly gave themselves over to the constructs of the project. I witnessed the clock ticking, chaos and creative storms and the beauty in its resolve. The process of inviting genuine, non-hierarchical participation in, where each artist had a stake in the process and claimed ownership over the outcome, was everything you imagined, and more.” - Kirsty Lee

Five performances each began with a video introducing the pairings, sharing snippets of their individual practices and their two-week collaboration. Documented by emerging Media Artist, Blake Hohenhaus, each vignette set the tone for the performance ahead and invited the audience in on the journey. Described as an "'artistic blind date under the gun”, Brief Encounters – Toowoomba, 2018 didn’t disappoint and showed us that even the most brief of encounters can leave a lasting impression.

In some way or another, the creatives involved in Brief Encounters – Toowoomba, 2018 have inevitably had their practices altered for having shared in this experience. This kind of challenge tests you in ways unknown to your audience and can only leave you hungry for the next one.

Special thanks to the Empire Theatre for bringing this format back to the Toowoomba Region, for inviting First Coat Studios to collaborate as the support venue for this production and for their vision in developing multidisciplinary practices in our regional city,

This project was made possible thanks to Arts Queensland, through the Queensland Arts Showcase Program.