Support Material : Creative Treatment

Creative Australia : International Engagement Fund 2024



This intergenerational and international collaboration has been in development since 2019 when, following meetings at APAM 2018, Cian O’Brien, Artistic Director at Project Arts, Dublin, invited one step at a time like this and emerging Irish artist Aoife Delany Reade to devise a new work at the Beckett Studio, Dublin. Taking Camus’ novel The Plague as a framework, that story’s denial of the plague would stand in as a metaphor for climate action deferral and denial. As it happened, our metaphor was overtaken by reality with covid19, and the work was put on hold. Despite pandemic disruptions, the project and its relationships have endured. In 2022 emerging Irish artist Riain Condon joined the project, and a development at Darebin Arts in Melbourne gave rise to a post-covid re-alignment of the concept and the work, now called All The Ways Without You. In July 2023 a 4-week development of this new concept was undertaken at Jersey Arts Centre, with the support from the Australia Council.

Creative Concept

All The Ways Without You is a site-specific work set inside a theatre.

The theatre building is treated as a site, and the work constantly juxtaposes this ‘non space’ (intended to be filled with ‘theatrical imagination’) with its spatial realities. Audience are continually referred to the actual space in which they exist – its architectural imposition and colonial/cultural contexts; its natural environment, including its bio-region, the species that once lived in this place; its constructed history – giving rise to the question: What do we erase in order to have a ‘blank slate’ upon which to create? 

The theatre acts – in the show as in real life – as a physical, psychological and metaphorical bunker, a refuge from what is going on outside (climate emergencies, advanced capitalism, species extinction, breakdown of democracy, etc). We, audience and artists, actually are in a theatre, together, and the trouble is out there, just outside the theatre doors.

The work is generated from inter-generational perspectives on environmental & bio-regional loss. Throughout the performance there are recurring attempts to have the remnants of the natural world outside break in, through the theatre doors and windows. Haunted by Beckett’s EndGame, and its notion of ‘the end of nature’, the work seeks at the same time to draw out our relationality to nature, to allow the outside to enter.

The audience find themselves in four distinct groups, each led and operated by one of the four performers: two emerging Irish creatives and two Australian creatives. As audience journey through the theatre building they are guided by a variety of media – hand-held audio, film, in-house tannoy, cctv, and in-person. Audience wind through the theatre that is present and the ‘what was’ of the place that the theatre sits on – the streams and marshlands, the low hill of the theatre’s seating bank, over the stream that runs beneath the stage floor, through dressing rooms, and emergency exit doors, into cupboards and behind the narrow pass of the cyclorama and before the moving theatre curtains. These journey experiences slowly accrete meaning-narratives while also awakening the audience’s awareness and sense of site.

The groups cross and collide with each other, coming together in and on the auditorium / stage throughout their journey, and dispersing again. Using the raw elements of the stage – lighting, sound, the movement of stage curtains, and a live stage presence – these ‘stage moments’ juxtapose the ‘non space’ of the empty stage with the reality of its place, its natural and constructed history, and its cultural contexts. Weaving four narrative threads and differing perspectives.

In trying to define the nature of this work, we call it a contemporary bio-regional and site-specific journeying theatre work.

Performative Languages

In being led on a journey through the theatre building, including into the auditorium and onto the stage area, audience are never lulled into the sense of being seperate, the ‘non-seen seer’ in the theatre. Rather, they are at all times aware of their presence and their relationship to the place that they are. Throughout, the mechanics of the performance and their part in it are ‘transparent’. In fact, this can be seen as a guiding element informing the performance languages – performative approaches can be read in this light. For example, the performers use direct audience address as they share their own personal insights, concerns and perspectives, while simultaneously disclosing the performative techniques they are using. Lights and sound, the tannoy, the in-house cctv, the stage curtains and effects are all operated by the four performers in full view of the audience. Theatre lights are in full view and lighting is used as a language itself, rather than an adjunct to the performer. Indeed, the place of the performer incrementally recedes throughout the work, until the human element almost disappears. Installation-like surround-sound audio bounces off the walls, revealing the properties of the theatre space itself and what it lays over.

The ‘content’ of the work arises chiefly in the cracks between the performers presence/absence, image, light and accumulated atmosphere. The show is permeated with a light touch and humour as a counter-balance to the sometimes bleak or challenging context, allowing room for the audience’s awareness of their complicity in this situation to arise and provide the internal dramatic tension of the piece. 

Jersey Development 2023

The development with Darebin Arts in August 2022 gave rise to a post-covid re-alignment of the work. Themes were developed and the mode of audience engagement & performative languages were generated and tested. 

The Jersey development served to refine the audience pathways and deepen narratives. The use of a variety of media to guide the audience groups was explored. Long-time lighting design collaborator John Ford and creative producer Richard Jordan were essential in developing the ‘audience stage moments’ generating the lights, surround-sound and performative aspects simultaneously, to immerse the audience in an installation type environment. 
This confirmed the central role of lighting within the work, in both revealing and disguising the space, and resulting in light becoming a key ‘performer’ in its own right.
Leaning into Riain’s digital expertise, he and John together developed a means to remotely operate light and sound from a variety of positions on and off the stage.

Collaborative History

one step have worked extensively in Ireland with young people and emerging artists, and this work is an extension of a long-term collaboration with these two young people in particular.

The company has acted as mentor and collaborator to both Aoife and Riain on a variety of local and international projects between 2015-2023. This is a great opportunity for all involved to further develop our theatre practices alongside each other in the creation of an experimental work, and marks a a further step in one step’s on-going relationship collaboration with these two emerging Irish artists (See LOC from Aoife & Riain for further details).