INSIDE CRACK – Artistic Movement Springs Up in Alice

An interview with SO REAL

By Alex Morris @Nemiwai

Quirky artists and performers are the norm every year at Crack Theatre Festival. This year CTF’s Setting The Stages Artists from the Northern Territory promise energy and exercise, which is quite fitting for Crack’s funk factor. On the first weekend in October, the Alice Springs duo SO REAL will bring to Newcastle a two-part dance workout and expression piece called ARTFIT, consisting of Core Create and Artwork. They say it will be fun, engaging and encouraging for all artists as they take on the daunting task of pursuing their dreams.

“It’s just like going to the gym for the artists,” Artistic Director Franca Barraclough said. “They’ll be flexing their creative muscles.”

The piece is an energetic workout which focuses on different elements of the creative experience, director Melissa Kerl said. The workshops will be presented twice each over the 4 days of TiNA. The workouts are free to attend for all artists and non-artists alike.

Melissa and Franca have been collaborating for many years under their company name SO REAL, and according to their website, they are all about taking art into the flow of the everyday and celebrating the extraordinary in the ordinary.

They’re both originally from Sydney. Franca, 46, has lived in Alice Springs for the last 15 years. She said the town is different from anywhere else in the world – remote, with intense personalities, opportunities and parties always happening.

“I came because I always wanted to live in a remote country town,” Franca said of her arrival. “I literally packed up my knapsack and hopped on a train and travelled through Australia, and it was the small remote town I was always looking for. [Alice] has a really interesting mixture of being close to nature and wilderness and yet it also has a thriving artistic scene. It’s got those two dynamic forces that rub up against each other all the time.”

Franca added that that if something is going wrong in Alice, all of its residents recommend going camping, as lying down under the open starry sky is a particularly powerful healing remedy.

Melissa is 37, and she’s lived in Alice Springs for the last eight years.

“After travelling all over the world, I had only really experienced coastal Australian living and I wondered if the further people went away from the ocean, the more down to earth they became,” Melissa said. She went inland and found this was the case.

“There’s no wishy washy people here, no pretensions,” Melissa said.

This is their first time performing at TiNA. They said participants of ARTFIT should expect an explosion of physical imagination and a dance adventure wonderland that no one will ever recover from.

Melissa said they’ve been to too many artistic festivals where they’ve felt they wanted more, and that they could no longer sit in their seat and pay attention.

“We create the kind of work that we wish we could attend,” Melissa said of their workouts. ”We create the work we want to go to meet.”

“It’s a really interesting formula we’re using that I’ve never experienced as an art experience,” Franca said. “People will enter into an artwork and immerse themselves into an actual adventure which will take them from one place to another, and they will come out at the end another person. The idea is [that] how it is actually administered will teach what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s like the participation is where the information transfers, like osmosis.”

Join in one or all ARTFIT Workouts for Artists, 1st – 4th October, the Crack House Foyer, Market Square, Hunter St, Newcastle CBD.