Maddy: I picked the baby up because she was unwell and crying.
Mister: Were you flouting rules by doing that?
Maddy: You wrote the rules. They suck.
Mister: Go back to school, learn to think before you speak.
Maddy: Why did you separate her from her mother? Why do you displace people?
Mister: Because I’m King, dummy.
Stripping Away the Artifice
In their video piece Double Life Kaylene and Paul strip away the artifice offering us an acute measure of intimacy in a work unafraid to reveal itself a little in the nude.
The spectacle of Double Life lies in its display of meticulously selected and assembled off-moments. Un-polished, un-posed, un-rehearsed segments, centered on a long-married couple, interspersed with mask-adorned production people going about their business in and out of frame.
Kaylene and Paul apply filmic devices to skew linearity and toy with illusion in order to dismantle reality. The conditions of their making heightened by the fact that Kaylene and Paul are having to direct their work, situated in a rehearsal space in Singapore, from miles away in Melbourne, in lockdown, at home, over Zoom.
Throughout the video we follow on-and-off-screen married couple and actors Swee Lin and Kay Siu. We also observe on-and-off-(Zoom)-screen married couple and creators Kaylene and Paul constructing their work and instructing the actors as they experiment with text and action against a green screen and within Kaylene and Paul’s precisely specified layout of the couple’s ‘bedroom’, ‘kitchen’ and ‘front door’ defined by markings on the floor.
Then somehow, even as Kaylene and Paul lay bare the artifice, and we see the mechanics of their making, acutely aware that everything is fabricated, it hits us - the couple’s isolation is real.
The mishaps, miscommunications, curveballs, distractions, disappointments and frustrations of working through a creative process are not unlike life. Stuff happens. You take risks. You doubt. You learn to believe. You go at it again.
To connect, to give of yourself to someone, is to risk isolation. Each person is a universe unto themself, hard to fully grasp in their inherent mysteries.
In this pandemic time, separation has been forced upon us, but to work at connecting, communicating, creating in all the trials that the creative process entails, is still worth everything.
Millie: Justus, are we on the brink of disaster?
Justus: I will need to be in quarantine for 40 days and then I will come back.
Millie: 40 days is excessive.
Justus: It’s symbolic. Quarantine, from Latin quaranta. 40 is the numeric symbol for purification.
Millie: Like the 40-day flood in the book of Genesis that washed away every human who defiled the earth, which was every human, to purify the earth. Like that?
Justus: In 40 days I will come back to you purer than I have been.
Artist KIRSTEN TAN
KAYLENE TAN &
In these unusual days we have been dreaming,
dreaming about sleepwalking. And making a sleepwalk about waking, waking from these unusual days.
Double Life is about isolating with another, the tension it creates between dependency and loneliness, and the desire for departure it feeds.
There are no clouds in Perth.
There are no clouds in Perth.
by Kaylene Tan and Paul Rae
KS Hey, are you awake?
KS You were singing.
SL What are you talking about?
KS The dog. Ulysses.
SL Go overseas?
KS No… it was Virgil, the dog was Virgil.
SL You know I don’t like dogs. Good night.
KS You were dreaming out loud.
SL I haven’t had a dream in months.
KS I’ve had too many. And they are wild.
works across different theatrical forms and is interested in sonic experiences such as audio walks and headphone theatre. Her theatre production In the Silence of Your Heart (Esplanade Theatres on the Bay) won Best Sound Design at the 2018 Life! Theatre Awards. Most recently, she wrote the text for Lost Cinema 20/20 for Brian Gothong Tan (Esplanade Studios).
was co-artistic director, with Kaylene Tan, of Spell Seven Performance Club (spell#7) from 1997-2016. His performances include Tree Duet (2009), Family Duet (2013), and National Language Class (2015). He is now Associate Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Melbourne. He is the author of Theatre & Human Rights (2009), and Real Theatre: Essays in Experience (2019).
Artist ISKANDAR JALIL