See a once deserted palliative care home transform into a theatrical wonderland during STRUT Dance’s world premiere of Sunset.
STRUT Dance, with the help of innovative UK company Punchdrunk, are set to reactivate one of Western Australia’s almost-forgotten historical sites, Dalkeith’s Sunset Heritage Precinct, with a dance experience unlike any other.
First established as the Claremont Old Men’s Home in 1904, the Sunset Heritage Precinct was classed as a public hospital from the mid-60s until its closure in 1995. It was reopened to the public in 2013 and is currently being transformed into a vibrant creative art and cultural hub for the community.
“It’s a beautiful art deco masterpiece but turned into ruin about 50 years ago,” STRUT Dance director Paul Selwyn Norton says, “and only four years ago got reactivated as a heritage precinct. It’s also the first West Australian talking cinema in this state, so it’s got a lot of history.”
Excitingly, STRUT Dance has been chosen to produce the first performance at the buildings.
“You have a major new initiative from the state government to set up a performance base at the Sunset Heritage Precinct in Dalkeith, and we are the first taxi off the rank,” Paul says. “We’re cracking open a new venue for the city, for artists and for audiences.”
Helping the company utilise the precinct’s unique spaces is Maxine Doyle, the co-director of Punchdrunk – a UK company considered pioneers of a game-changing form of theatre in which roaming audiences experience epic storytelling inside cinematic and sensory theatrical worlds.
STRUT has been working with Maxine for three years, developing a show featuring a strong cast of Australian performers.
“Maxine and her team have created a pathway through some of the buildings that will start to bring the stories and old narratives that have been trapped in those buildings for centuries, to life,” Paul says. “It’s beautiful to be just animating that for the first time.”
So what can we expect of the precinct’s inaugural show, aptly named Sunset? How about an immersive dance-theatre performance that transports audiences from the Sunset Old Men’s Home into a waiting room between worlds, where myth and story become one through theatre and dance?
“You’ll arrive in a very beautiful, bespoke holding area bar underneath a tree onsite,” Paul explains. “And then the building’s performers will awaken, and they will call all the participants of the show into the theatre. You’ll work your way through the great hall and then out the other side, before being led down to the Swan River for a spectacular ending.”
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