This Most Wicked Body - screener

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This Most Wicked Body

Nigel Kellaway

Year: 2008, 17 mins
Code: NK-Most

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Part of a set of excerpts from ten major works by Nigel Kellaway (1994 - 2004), assembled and edited by Kellaway and his long-time associate, video artist Peter Oldham.

This Most Wicked Body is the product of a ten day marathon that took place in Sydney in 1994. Nigel Kellaway was locked into a theatre space for 240 hours. Each hour had been carefully preconceived, leaving some opportunity for improvisation and development over the ten days. The discoveries of that 240 hours on stage have been distilled into 90 minutes of intense theatre – brutal, pornographic and ‘wickedly’ funny.

This Most Wicked Body (re)invents Nigel Kellaway’s forti(something)eth birthday – a ludicrous moment of crisis. The man reinvents himself. He demands some response from the failing body he has created. He juggles a theatrical fiction with the reality of himself onstage before an audience. He invites a spectator to join him for his celebratory dinner – someone to act out his object of desire; to share in his dark, comical self-doubt. Joining them on stage is the acclaimed concert pianist Gerard Willems performing a phenomenal all Beethoven program – the monster sonatas.

This Most Wicked Body is about living with the fiction of Nigel Kellaway – an icon of elegance and obscenity. It casts honesty into the spotlight, interrogating the authenticity of the virtuoso performance.


Other performances from Nigel Kellaway's Works 1994-2004:
The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior (4'30'')
The Berlioz: Our Vampires Ourselves (14'55'')
The Terror of Tosca (22'15'')
Tristan (11'30'')
Little George (17'20'')
El Inocente (7'10'')
Entertaining Paradise (16')
Another Night: Medea (14'05'')

The Audience and other Psychopaths (18'40'')

More from Kellaway / The opera Project Inc - DVD & Streaming:
Nigel Kellaway in Sleepers wake! wachet auf!
The Rameau Project
Brief Synopsis

NIGEL KELLAWAY - Artistic Director of The opera Project Inc.

In a career embracing his skills as an actor, director, dancer, musician and contemporary performance maker, Nigel Kellaway's initial professional performance training was in music, majoring in piano and composition at the universities of Melbourne and Adelaide.

He was the first Australian actor to train with Tadashi Suzuki and his Suzuki Company Of Toga (1984-85) and also worked with butoh artist Min Tanaka in Tokyo. Over 35 years, he has more than seventy full length theatre, dance and music works with companies including The One Extra Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Entr'acte, Terrapin Puppet Theatre, Sidetrack Performance Group, Legs on the Wall, Ihos Contemporary Opera, the Australian Dance Theatre, Stalker, Calculated Risks Opera Productions, the Song Company, Splinters Theatre of Spectacle, Urban Theatre Projects and Stopera and for venues including Performance Space (NSW), the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (WA) and The Royal Court Theatre (UK).

He was a co-founder, in 1987, of the performance ensemble The Sydney Front (of which a large selection of the performances are available on both DVD & Streaming), with major productions including THE PORNOGRAPHY OF PERFORMANCE (1988), PHOTOCOPIES OF GOD (1989), DON JUAN (1991), FIRST AND LAST WARNING (1992) and PASSION (1993). The Sydney Front toured extensively within Australia and Europe, to the UK and Hong Kong. Solo performance works include PERFORMER (1977), GIVE ME A ROSE TO SHOW HOW MUCH YOU CARE (1986), THE NUREMBERG RECITAL (1989) and THIS MOST WICKED BODY (1994), a ten day, 240 hour performance marathon with percussionist David Montgomery, video artist Peter Oldham and restaurateur Gay Bilson, which toured to the 1998 Telstra Adelaide Festival with pianist Gerard Willems and Gay Bilson.

Over the past fifteen years a major focus of his work has been in contemporary music theatre. In 1997 he directed the Colin Bright/Amanda Stewart opera THE SINKING OF THE RAINBOW WARRIOR with the Song Company and Australysis for the Sydney Festival on Sydney Harbour, and in 2001 co-devised and directed LITTLE GEORGE, again with the Song Company. His collaborations with Canberra based Stopera have been dISTRESSING THE DIVA in 1998 and the Clérambault/Rameau derived CANTATA in 2003.

In 1997 he co-founded with Annette Tesoriero The opera Project Inc., a loose ensemble of actors, musicians and physical performers dedicated to the mission of reassessing "opera" (and its accoutrement) as a contemporary performance practice. Major works by the company have been THE BERLIOZ - our vampires ourselves (1997, toured nationally in 2001), THE TERROR OF TOSCA (1998), TRISTAN (1999), EL INOCENTE (2001), ENTERTAINING PARADISE (2002), ANOTHER NIGHT: MEDEA (2003), THE AUDIENCE AND OTHER PSYCHOPATHS (2004), SLEEPERS WAKE! WACHET AUF! (2007) and THE RAMEAU PROJECT (2009).

He served on the dance committee of the Australia Council from 1993-96 and in 1997 was awarded the Rex Cramphorn Theatre Scholarship by the NSW Ministry for the Arts. Kellaway has been a leader in the development of avant-garde and hybrid performance practices in Australia over the past three decades, and in 2004 was awarded a senior artist's Fellowship by the Theatre Board of the Australia Council to devote two years to his continuing research into theatrical, operatic and contemporary performance practices.

"The dinner-suited upper body of a man hovers in the distance above a grand piano. Glimpsed through a fine curtain he looks like a ventriloquist’s dummy, though an unusually elegant one, in white-face, awkwardly held, voice masked in stilted refinement. This man would have something to say about being wounded and discarded. For every apparent truth demolished, for every lie revised, the real constantly asserts itself, even when the plug is pulled. This man is playing himself, however much he quarrels with Identity (his own, the whole idea of It).

Real-er than the rest is concert pianist Gerard Willems, sublime master of Beethoven sonatas. He offers no mere accompaniment, giving us complete works with astonishing focus and beauty. As soon as it happens, you recognise the inevitability of the penultimate scene, the Willems-Kellaway (Schubert F minor Fantasie) piano duet (the latter initially on his way offstage for a piss): a coalescence of beauties, with Kellaway now focussed on the partnership, emptied of cynicism and rage, a moment of refuge before the work’s final burst of bewilderment and pain and its dying fall. Concert and performance merge as almost equal partners, an astonishing synthesis of performing realities. Although never said, “This Most Wicked Body”, is therefore also about music." 
Keith Gallasch, RealTime @ The Telstra Adelaide Festival, March 1998

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