“Powerful, evocative, moving and beautiful”
– Alexa Wilson, Theatreview, 2007
"Dark Tourists is painfully well-named. Bleak and dislocated and caustic and critical and sharp and sinewy and voyeuristic and nihilistic and darkly comic and absolutely stunning. Its territory is a mix of Hieronymus Bosch, Bill Hammond and Samuel Beckett, in a post-modern, post-Al Gore era.”
– Jennifer Shennan, Dominion Post, 2008
A provocative dance-theatre work, Dark Tourists explores our attraction to sites of death and disaster. In a world filled with birds, salt, empty coats and exploding televisions screens, tourists come ready to pluck souvenirs from the aftermath.
Dark Tourists was developed over an extensive creative development period and presented in the Auckland Arts Festival in 2007, and subsequently re-developed and toured to Te Whaea Theatre, Wellington, where it won ‘Best Dance Production’ in the 2008 New Zealand Fringe Festival Awards.
Dark Tourists was inspired by the term, “dark tourism,” coined by tourism scholars to describe the tourist practice of visiting sites of atrocity and disaster. The work explored how memorial sites employ attempt to enable to tourists to “feel” the force of the past.
Dark Tourists featured two layers: one that showed individuals struggling in the aftermath of an un-named disaster, and another that showed dark tourists who followed in its wake. The performance was a blend of dance and theatre where narrated text, dialogue, monologue and song were interwoven with choreographic sequences. The post-catastrophic stage – a debris-strewn set featuring jackets, shoes and hair and radio tape recorders – was marked by a series of material and psychological traces. The hanging jackets created a landscape of empty forms, shoes were carefully carried about in piles, and images of the performers’ hair were used to suggest their disappearance. These objects were responded to as if they were bodies.
Choreography and direction: Malia Johnston
Dramaturgy and co-direction: Emma Willis
Live music and composition: Eden Mulholland
Producer: Michele Powles
Cast and co-creators: Peter Daube, Paul Young, Malia Johnston, Julia Harvie, Claire Lissaman, Sean MacDonald Eden Mulholland, Sally Stockwell, Paora Taurima, Mia Blake.
Lighting: Martyn Roberts (2007), Paula VanBeek (2008)
Set design: Grant Wackrow, Amy
Marketing photos: James Ensing-Trussle
Performance photos: Philip Merry
Dark Tourists was made possible by the support of Creative New Zealand funding.