by Anna Tregloan
Photo: Jeff Busby

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by Anna Tregloan

Black was conceived as a hybrid work and was originally produced at Malthouse Theatre in 2007. THis is a text for performance, specifically created for its original cast (Martyn Coutts, Moira Finucaine, Carline Lee and James Wardlaw).

Black is very loosely based on the story of Elizabeth Short, a.k.a. The Black Dahlia, whose grisly murder of over fifty years ago not only remains unsolved to this day, but has also rushed headlong into legend. Hacked in half at the waist and left very much for dead in a vacant lot, where she was discovered one morning by a young woman who was out for a relaxing walk, Short - which is to say, what was left of her - soon became the subject of countless conspiracy theories and whispered rumours. As is so often the case with such things, crime became myth became collective phantasm.

With its spectral bodies and sea of words, all floating about in the chiaroscuro of memory, Anna Tregloan's Black is a difficult work to categorise. Part interpretative dance, part ambient soundscape, with more than a dash of installation art thrown in to taste, the last thing it appears to be is theatrical, at least to the extent that our ideas about theatre are unduly weighed down by stories and characters, not to mention by stages and proscenium arches. Like the recent apoliticaldance, with which it shares numerous admirable characteristics whilst otherwise being almost completely different, Black forgoes the staple forms of what we might for want of a better term call literary theatre in favour of an idiom with an even greater resistance to definition. The result is a work of thematic richness and web-like formal complexity, with contour and content effortlessly segueing into and complementing one another. (Text by Matthew Clayfield, Australian Stage)

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