No-one could better describe the premise behind Vicki Van Hout’s clever, creative – and philosophical – piece of theatre than the performer herself:
Even if I am on stage by myself, as an artist, I am never truly alone, as I am bound to bring my family, my community, my peers and mentors to work with me. In this piece, I decided to place the usual behind-the-scenes action of the indigenous arts making process front and centre …
While Australians from all cultural backgrounds create within the framework of cultural arts and community development … there is a particular obligation placed on indigenous performers.
Van Hout has chosen a blend of theatrical forms to highlight her words, and in all of them – dance, drama and film – she manages to incorporate the gentle, but very effective, satirical humour and comic timing that we have come to expect from our indigenous writers and performers. From Jack Davis to Nakkiah Lui, Bob Maza to Leah Purcell, the ability to infuse their special stories with humour as well as truth has earned them a special kind of respect.
Whether in a clever video clip mocking attitudes to the acknowledgement to country, or “auctioning” traditional indigenous and European dance steps; explaining to an invisible elder the ability to tell her stories truthfully without traditional ‘props’ or encapsulating all of them in interpretative movement, Van Hout proves herself a consummate performer. She has a lithe, buoyant energy that injects itself into her performance, an innate ability to use pause, gesture, a tilt of the head, a wry expression to reach beyond the moment and make her truth even clearer.
Van Hout is a skilled dancer, story teller, actor and analyst – with the ability “speak across cultures” in a way that is edifying as well as entertaining.