The Present Tense Ensemble, led by directors Bryce Ives and Nathan Gilkes, are a responsive and independent group of artists engaged in an ongoing investigation into new methods of theatre practice. Our practice is submerged at a place where music meets narrative, character, space and time in performance.
Music is the text we examine; the source material reimagined and the driving force for character, action and story in our work. Our practice interrogates music, of all kinds and styles, in order to build immersive performances. By immersive performance, we mean we consider the acoustic, dynamic and aural quality of the space we are working in; the architecture and history of the space; the unique role that scent can play in framing and activating a narrative in space; and the way that bodies can fundamentally change the nature and tone of a space.
the many voiced fugue of the human mind
"this is a work that rewards the receptive listener with a sensory experience like no other"
Theatreworks Selected Works 2015
On a clear night, passengers fly into darkness aboard a 737. Where they are going remains unclear...
Ricercar is an operatic event after the music of JS Bach; a history of the world of sound told through the lens of theatre. On a long haul flight through time and space we follow five dreamlike, shadowy textures of people; their lives, bodies and minds broken down into repeating patterns, rhythms and melodies that hurtle through space on the edge of the sound barrier. Like the voices of a fugue, they collide and fuse through music, voice, image and word.
Immersive theatre virtuosi, Present Tense (Chants des Catacombes; FOMO) partner with the energy and electricity of independent music duo The Twoks (Triple J Unearthed; Dark MOFO) to present a rendering of the cosmic world of sound and music played through its primary instrument: the human species.
Created by Nate Gilkes, Bryce Ives, Xani Kolac and Mark Leahy
Date: 24 Nov 2015 - 12 Dec 2015
Time: Tue to Sat 7.30pm, Sun 3pm
Preview: Tue 24, Thu 26, Sat 28, Sun 29 $20
Price: $30 Full / $25 Conc, Under 30yrs, Groups 8+ [plus booking fee]
Presented by: Theatre Works and Present Tense
RICERCAR, a 96-minute composition for theatre, is created by 12 interdisciplinary artists, investigating music in theatre: its transcendence, dislocation, order and artistry. Through 12 thematically linked episodes RICERCAR abnegates conventional narrative to examine humanities kaleidoscopic relationship to music, time, space and the universe.
By beginning with the ‘source text’ of the music and structure of J.S. Bach’s 48 Preludes & Fugues, our work integrates movement and dance, live music, sound, ecological design and light, to create the sensation of ‘fugue’, or flight.
Present Tense and pop music duo The Twoks, have actively been developing and investigating RICERCAR, a new, post-classical opera, after the music of J.S. Bach since June 2013.
The result of that shared investigation is a 96-minute work for theatre that takes place on a space shuttle. An interdisciplinary composition for actors and musicians, this dreamlike work integrates movement and dance, live music, sound and light, to create the sensation of ‘fugue’, or flight, asking questions of the ways in which we perceive music and sound.
Our vision is to create a vivid, immersive and extraordinary theatre work that challenges contemporary and traditional notions of theatre, music and opera.
In the style of Phillip Glass, Nils Frahm, the Big Scary and Heiner Goebels' unique compositions in sound and place, RICERCAR takes Bach's 48 Preludes & Fugues, its artistry and its numbers and patterns, as a starting point for the creation of a contemporary operatic event.
By examining the artistic legacy and mathematical genius of Bach, this bold, impressionistic work is a message of hope and warning, a reminder of our responsibility and legacy, told through the media of theatre and sound.
Sound: loops, patterns and the rhythmic structure of music, become the beginning ‘source’ text in designing and creating a performance work. Ricercar blends contemporary minimalist music with the sounds of electric pop loops and voices; drawing on Bach’s Preludes and Fugues, the rhythms of contemporary cosmopolitan society and questions how we engage with and perceive sound and music.
Designers are charged with embracing the possibilities of ‘ecoscenography’ – a movement that integrates ecological principles into all stages of scenographic thinking and product. The audience will experience an immersive space, using sound and design to create a mosaic of images and soundscapes. Through sound, light, space and design Theatre Works will become an ecosystem, the cosmos, an enthralled concert hall, a café in Melbourne, a hospital and the beginning of time.
"As their name suggests, this group are invested in the concept of the present moment. Consequently, there is something wonderfully ephemeral about this work. The program notes proclaim this to be Ricercar 1.0, a work that is ever-evolving, seeking new pathways and encounters. Hence, as an audience member you feel actively involved in an experience that will never be repeated the same again. With this concept Present Tense challenges the traditional concert experience to produce something quite unique. It’s a journey for the listener, an experience that will only leave you wanting more"
The graduating acting company at the Arts Academy, Federation University, with Present Tense Artistic Directors Bryce Ives and Nate Gilkes, created a series of performances, concerts and community events around ideas of remembrance, reflection and investigation on the centenary of ANZAC. This inspiring project brought together the Federation University, the City of Ballarat, the Ballarat RSL, Sing Australia Choir, Arts Academy acting students and the broader community.
The work aimed to connect community members with Arts Academy actors, and to encourage cross-generational collaboration and work. The students reflected on the meaning of ANZAC and what it is to remember a significant event of 100 years ago. Their work stemmed from a reimagining of Joan Littlewood’s Oh, What a Lovely War.
Present Tense spent over 40 days investigating and creating the #LovelyWar works at the Arts Academy Federation University Australia.
Major outcomes included:
7 public performances of Oh What a Lovely War at the Helen Macpherson Smith Theatre, with the Graduating Acting Company.
A community activation, on the balcony of the George Hotel for ANZAC Day for the Gunfire Breakfast, with songs and music from the First Year Acting Company, the Graduating Acting Company, the Sing Australia Choir, the Ballarat Memorial Brass Band and Federation University Pipe Band.
3 pop-up concerts at the Art Gallery of Balllarat, for Ballarat Heritage Weekend, working with the Art Gallery of Ballarat Ladies Auxiliary, the First Year Acting Company and the Graduating Acting Company.
2 pop-up concerts at the Regional Living Expo Conference, working with Regional Arts Victoria.
1 video shoot, interviewing members of the Ballarat RSL Day Club collaborating with Wind Sky Productions and the George Hotel.
Performances of songs and stories from our work on ABC Radio around Australia on the Rhianna Patrick Program, ABC Ballarat Breakfast, Power FM Breakfast and Win Television News.
A community activation for Ballarat Heritage Weekend, the graduating acting company, and the first-year acting company, working with the City of Ballarat and Ballarat Heritage Weekend, retracing the steps of the original ANZAC march.
A pop-up concert for the UNESCO Heritage Summit at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.
Regular morning teas, open rehearsals and shared conversations with the Ballarat RSL, the Ballarat Legacy Club and Sing Australia.
Shared rehearsals and investigations between the First Year Acting Company and the Graduating Acting Company, encouraging greater dialogue, collaboration and collegiality.
Our work could not happen without the generous support of our audiences, donors and arts bodies. You can make a direct contribution to Present Tense' investigation into the new forms of theatre by becoming a keyholder or through our crowd funding campaigns. We are also open to partnerships with businesses and organisations who share our passion for new ways of engaging communities and audiences.
If you would like to become a keyholder or find out more about how you can support the work of the Present Tense Ensemble, please email our Artistic Directors, Bryce and Nate, on ways in which you or your business could be involved.
The Present Tense Ensemble also creates immersive and responsive events and performances outside of a theatre context. Whether you are looking for a gothic immersive experience like Chants des Catacombes, an interesting and exciting musical act to perform at your function or the creation of a completely new, responsive experience for your clients. The ensemble has created music events for The Royal Melbourne Childrens Hospital, Theatreworks, Castlemaine State Festival and the Hume Region Homelessness Network.
Present Tense will bring to your event our unique creative flair, artistic excellence, and innovation that we are renowned for. Please contact Bryce or Nate for more information and to find out how we can rock your party.