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This New Sydney Show Is Performed Entirely On Trampolines

in partnership with city-of-sydney-sponsor

A legendary physical theatre troupe best known for "throwing people beautifully off the side of buildings" is taking on the trampoline and encouraging you to get involved.

The City of Sydney's Art and About program is all about showcasing the very best that Sydney has to offer the art world, which usually means pushing the envelope. Highly Sprung, the latest effort from Legs On The Wall, perfectly embodies this spirit. The production tells the story of inner city residents getting through the day, but the narrative is told through the re-emerging media of trampolines, parkour, wall running, and a slew of other physical art forms. We caught up with Legs On The Wall's Senior Creative Producer, Cecily Hardy, to talk about the upcoming performances that transport the audience through their own space and time.

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THE ARTISTRY OF THE TRAMPOLINE

While trampolining might conjure images of the old double bounce, or epic YouTube fails, there's a distinct artistry in the way bodies move in mid air. "There are challenges, but there are also great avenues and successes in terms of utilising what you can do with the body," Hardy says. The performers drop from walls, they're shot into the air from the ground, and they manipulate themselves with a sense of zero gravity. There's a certain "weightlessness, but also the weight of a falling body" that drives the performance, and it creates "a sense of… being caught in time, being caught in mid air, of time slowing down." Getting vertical adds new layers to the performance, and explores the space in new and profound ways.

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TELLING A STORY WITHOUT WORDS

"We are storytellers," Hardy says, "but we're using — and in this show particularly — more than the spoken word or text to tell the story." Rather than relying on traditional scripts and dialogue, Highly Sprung instead uses the bodies of the performers and their interaction with the theatre space to explain the narrative of the performance. "I think it also depends on what the director is trying to well up in people," according the Hardy, "and how they want to carry them away." In a situation where simple exposition isn't in the director's arsenal, "you've got to use the strength of human interaction and physical shape."

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TRANSFORMING A SPACE

Legs On The Wall is famous for "throwing people beautifully off the side of buildings". The building, or stage, on which the performers will ply their trade is a pretty closely guarded secret, but will pop up somewhere in Martin Place just before Highly Sprung opens. "It's a bit like a TARDIS that's going to suddenly appear," Hardy says, and will encourage the audience further to abandon preconceptions about spaces and time, and instead engage with the new environment. The transformation of the public space, a core concept of the Art and About ethos, helps to transport the audience in to the acrobatic realm of Highly Sprung, and demonstrates the "really amazingly sort of svelte and sophisticated and challenging" apparatus of the trampoline.

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GETTING INVOLVED

Each performance of Highly Sprung will be entirely unique, although a consistent narrative will run throughout every iteration. At the end of the performance, however, the audience is invited to have a go on the trampolines themselves. As well as adding an element of interactive fun, the audience is also "invited and enticed further in, and get to explore themselves." Instead of simply being passive observers, the audience engages with their own body, and engages with the unique space of the performance they just watched. "It may not be your traditional narrative," Hardy says, "but people will go away with the juices flowing and thinking about what it all means."

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Highly Sprung takes place at various times from March 29 to April 1 in Martin Place, Sydney. 

Images: Katherine Griffiths.

Published on March 20, 2017 by James Whitton

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