Down To Earth: down to the bare basics

Photo: Kyle Prinsloo

Identities are formed, shaped and deconstructed for viewers in Kieron Jina and Marc Philipp Gabriel’s production, Down To Earth.

The performance opens with a bare stage, featuring two translucent blue bin bags filled with various props and are topped with a large, wooden fork. Ambient, yet jarring notes from a guitar fills the room. Audience members are seated on blue cushions on the floor around the stage before the houselights dim.

Two bodies arrive onto the stage, entangling themselves before the stage lights turn on and focuses on them. Elegantly intertwined and nude save for the swimming cap-like masks over their heads  they move as one, rising from the ground before disentangling themselves.

Their precise choreography leads the performers to the other side of the stage, where they unpack the bin bags in one fluid motion and reveal the array of props. These props, which range from blonde extensions and fake flowers to a decorated hubcap later used as a shield, are employed throughout the performance so as to make references to how identities are formed.

For example, wearing clothes and hair extensions to represent how people dress their bodies in fashion, the performers strut down a catwalk, backed by a driving beat and energised vocals asking, “Who’s that on the catwalk?” Sci-Fi references are also made, with one actor dressing in a cape and using a prop as a lightsaber.

The piece explores the formation of and conflict between identities as the performers engage in an animal-like fight. It portrays the relationship between, and the differing identities of, Jina and Gabriel: Jina is South African while Gabriel is German, illustrating the origin of the conflict between identities. They met at a dance festival in Vienna in 2013 and later bonded after sharing eggs from their local grocery store.

A performance art/dance piece, the performance is fairly abstract at times. If you’re not well-versed in physical theatre, a quick read-through of the programme blurb should be sufficient to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the symbolism and deeper meaning while watching the piece.

Catch Down To Earth on 5 July at 12pm and 6pm, and again on 6 July at 2pm and 8pm at PJ’s.

By Ashleigh Dean