Tender Young Creatures

“Run”… “Run”… “Run”. Intoned tonelessly through the echoing space. “Run” . High pitched now. Urgent and urgently requiring action. The heart beats faster, only gravity holds you where you are. There’s a woman in danger. Run. Why don’t they run?

The Greeks knew it. They put Antigone in Creon’s care and Cassandra in Agamemnon’s bed. The Impressionists knew it. Manet put a naked woman centre stage in Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe … and then ignored her. Hell! Even Hitchcock would quote Sadou: “When in doubt, torture the heroine”.

Transmogrify the woman to a girl and the vulnerability is palpable and the fear response real.

TENDER YOUNG CREATURES is such a work. This theatre piece is a self-devised live installation by a 16 girl ensemble facilitated by three remarkable adult co-creators. It is experiential, absorbing and empowering.

Walking alone at night is the basis of the work. The blurred framework: Red Riding Hood. The power? The wolf inside.

Performed in a white space with limited seating, the young women move among the audience. At times they are individual voices who whisper in your ear, other times they tumble together in the corner like a litter of wolf puppies.

The soundscape is also devised by the group and begins with words that could be Latin or could be chanting or even invocation.

For the audience, gathered perhaps just to see kids having a go, there is initial safety in the rhythm and ritual. Like the swaying of incense or the Adhin,the Call to Prayer, TENDER YOUNG CREATURES hypnotises early on as the young performers enact the donning of a Novice’s scapular and veil, a hijab, Red’s red cowl. The looming installation graphic reads 1: Mother’s Advice.

Initially the parents and siblings might pat and point as their child artist passes by but as the story builds and the mass movement impels these young women into peril, adults attune to the danger and the audience is on alert. “My world my forest.” And the onlooker understands that the girls’ interior world will be both enemy and rescuer.

Individuals sing or speak for the whole or cry in the wilderness and the collective unconscious absorbs the audience in a truly immersive dramatic sharing. Then TENDER YOUNG CREATURES ultimately explodes with female energy.

By the time words like ‘sweat’, ‘claws’, ‘blood’ echo and a sudden, stunning percussion fills the space the audience is assured of the girls’ safety and future. With the settling of emotions and the return of logic, one can fully recognize what a rich, elegant and professional work this is.

I congratulate every one of these young performers on their focus, on their bravery and I thank them for allowing me to share their experience.

TENDER YOUNG CREATURES continues Wed-Sat until 9th October @ 7 Randle Street Surry Hills but hurry as several performances are already sold out.