We are very excited to be working with a broad team of multidisciplinary artists for Soft Landing. One such group is Ellipsis, comprised of talented trio – Karen Gee, Felicity Steel and Susan Kennedy. Below, Karen shares with us a bit about their process, training and previous work together.
Many years ago I was a student of (and later, teaching assistant to) Leisa Shelton, learning the intricate and disciplined art of corporeal mime as created and codified by Etienne Decroux. For me, it was the start of an enduring fascination with this subtle yet expressive art form, one that places the body at the service of the imagination, making a performer ripe for storytelling. Using the body as the main means of expression in this way, corporeal mime allows for the exploration of the full gamut of emotions – in short, it makes visible the invisible, the complexities and contradictions of our inner worlds.
It was then that I met Susan and Felicity, also students at Leisa’s studio. We performed in a number of shows together, with Leisa’s company Theatre is Moving, then parted ways for some years. During that time, Felicity continued to add to her extensive British and Australian theatre credits, also becoming one of Australia’s premier fight directors – she has choreographed fights for Bell Shakespeare, Melbourne Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Opera Australia, Victoria Opera and The Australian Ballet.
Susan continued her work in the theatre – writing and directing for Marian Street Theatre for Young People and for Theatre South; running an actors’ group at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre as part of the Merrigong Artist Development program; appearing on most television series; and most recently working for Eaton Gorge Theatre Company, recipients of a grant from Inspiring Australia, the National Science Engagement Strategy. And I branched out in a number of areas: writing for the theatre, becoming a professional book editor and author, and continuing my love affair with dramatic corporeal mime with stints at both L’Ecole de Mime Corporel Dramatique in Paris and the International School of Corporeal Mime in London with Decroux’s final assistants, and writing, devising and performing works with corporeal mime at their heart. We’ve recently come together again to form our own company, Ellipsis, a collaboration through which we aim to create work that is both visceral and intellectual, physical and contemplative, with a touch of darkly wicked humour thrown in.
For Blink’s Soft Landing project, we’ve used the lyrics of Marianne Faithfull’s ‘Falling from Grace’ as a springboard to explore what happens when women – often considered angels when young, for their sweet face, innocent looks and charming banter – feel the inexorable tug of age at their heels. Do they necessarily fall from grace? And how do they relate to the ideas about ageing that society so willingly foists upon them? What fits, what will be kept, what discarded or stored away from sight? We’re thrilled to have picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Soft Landing 2015 and are very much looking forward to performing as part of a larger group of artists. Leading up to performance, the hardest part for us has been considering precisely which ideas to develop in response to the concept of ‘falling’, such is the scope of possibility. We hope we have made a suitably soft landing on the right ones. —Karen Gee