“In a world where you can be anything by yourself’ Etta Turner.

“I contradict myself. Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman.

I loved this show. It was just so, so brave 

The performance saw a troupe of young performers take to the stage for a one hour performance. Now here’s the thing…They didn’t come on stage as a character, wearing some kind of mask, something that young people find relatively easy to do.

They fronted up as themselves, and over the next sixty minutes, shared themselves – their thoughts, their feelings – like open books before us.

Appropriately, the show started off slowly. We were in darkness when the performers started talking to us – describing their physical appearance to us – height, eyes, weight and so on.

Slowly but surely the stage lights came up to show the performers, first behind a thin ‘curtain’ and then this came away to fully reveal them.

DIGNITY OF RISK is a collaborative work that has been put together by performers and creatives from the Shopfront Harness Ensemble and the Australian Theatre For Young People.

The performance, mixing words with movement and dance, delves into one of the most important journey that we take in our lives, leaving behind the dependency of childhood behind, to make our own way in the world and endeavouring to establish our own strong sense of self. As Shakespeare wrote, ‘To thine own self be true, and one cannot be untrue to any man’.

It was just so moving to see these performers so courageously share who they are. There’s a lot to be said for the saying, ‘In life one has to play as well as one can, the cards that one has been dealt with.’ And while I am at it, legendary pop singer Cher came up with a truism when she said, ‘You are only as sick as the secrets that you have.’ The more openness about things, the less the stigma.

There were no secrets on  the ATYP Studio 1 stage. There was plenty of dignity in these risks. Caspar spoke candidly about having attempted to kill himself, Teneile  about her battle with bi-polar, Wendi  about her struggles with depression, Dinda  about a broken marriage, Steve   and Mathew  about being performers with intellectual disabilities, wheelchair user Riana, actor, lawyer, disability advocate and on staff at the Australian Human Rights Commission, spoke about her fiercely independent spirit.

Oh, the synchronicity of things. Just as I am finishing this review, a  song has come up on my computer, American folksinger Tom Rush is singing Canadian songwriter Murray McLaughlin’s wistful ballad ‘Çhild’s Song’ about a kid leaving home and saying a goodbye to his family – ‘Each of us must do the things that matter/All of us meet see the things that we see/ I must find my own road to follow now/You will all be welcome in my home.’

A group devised work, DIGNITY AT RISK is playing ATYP Studio 1 until 26th August. Go see!

Creatives- Director- Natalie Rose, Dramaturg- Jennifer Medway, Choreographer- Margot Politis, James Brown- Sound and AV Design, Faust Brusamolino- LX Design, Melanie Liarta- Set and Costume Deisgn, Imogen Yang- Audio Describer, Soaria Bangura- Stage Manager.

Performers- Mathew Coslovi, Holly Craig, Teneile English, Caspar Hardaker, Riana Shakirra Head-Toussaint, Steve Kantantopoulos, Wendi Lanha, Brianna Lowe, Sharleen Ndlovu, Jake Pafumi, Dindi Timperon.