Review: deviator, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre

Nerida Dickinson

Overthrowing capitalist oppression is child’s play.
Review: deviator, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre

deviator by pvi collective. Photo credit: Lucy Parakhina

Children find ways to play in any environment, regardless of grown-up world rules. Mandurah’s arts community collaborates with pvi collective to bring deviator to the city centre, challenging adults to engage with local urban spaces, reject expectations about conforming and embrace the joy of discovering new personal, physical and behavioural boundaries.

At the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre start point, each participant receives a smart phone and headphones to guide their personal 45-minute journey. The 14 locations on the interactive map mark challenging activities with provocative descriptions, time required and points available. Nervous and excited players weigh options – the furthest challenges on the map have the most points but what about that extra travel time? Is a single-player activity worth waiting for? Strategy creeps in while watching the introductory video, a strident call to take up acts of childlike play to occupy and reclaim urban spaces from the workaday grind.

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Out along the foreshore, through the shops and up past the pubs and restaurants, players protest against hollow capitalism by targeting rich celebrities in dodgeball, blowing up consumerist values with hyper-inflated balloons and exorcising a bank. Traditional childhood games of sack racing (at a traffic light crossing), Twister (in the shopping mall) and kiss chasey (with clowns) are part of the mad delight of deviator. Personal comfort zones are pushed from public pole dancing to lying in a graveyard, the soothing headphone narrative guiding and clarifying the protest context. Diverse participants starting with varying expectations return to ManPAC as their clocks stop, flushed with excitement and perspiration, never to see the local centre in the same way, again.

Mandurah’s arts community rises to the challenges posed by pvi collective’s provocative approach to creating interactive experiences that reconfigure physical geography and mental expectations. While supervising, engaging, demonstrating, encouraging and sabotaging participants in play, the sense of fun is taken seriously through the entire process. Local creatives take on the groundwork of creating relevant activities and tying to site points, ensuring safety for all parties and identifying how each activity both develops main themes and enhances participant experience. Working with pvi collective brings the opportunity to learn and experience the potential and pitfalls of integrating technology with interactive creation.

Since 2012, deviator has travelled to create fresh appreciations of local spaces in Australian capital cities and regional centres, as well as in Scotland, Sweden and Denmark. Co-Artistic Director Kelli McCluskey’s enthusiastic collaboration with creatives in each location and eagerness to engage with the exhilarated competitors' responses to favourite and frustrating activities, remains undiminished since deviator’s inception. The current regional tour will close out by participating in the Albany Arts Festival, with yet another round of challenges for artists and public alike.

4 ½ stars: ★★★★☆

deviator
pvi collective
Co-Artistic Director: Kelli McCluskey
Production Manager: Aaron McCann
Performed by Ruby Liddelow, Alexandra Sleet, Mary Castle, Shekaila Walker, Hannan Jones, Kinya Van de Polder, Robbie Fieldwick, Teaghan Lowry, Zoe Lyons, Michelle Aitken and Phillip Hutton

Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, WA
27–30 March 2019

About the author

Nerida Dickinson is a writer with an interest in the arts. Previously based in Melbourne and Manchester, she is observing the growth of Perth's arts sector with interest.