Never Did Me Any Harm
Long before The Slap, Force Majeure’s Kate Champion was thinking about a dance theatre work on the subject
“I think everyone’s aware that smacking children has become a huge issue in recent years,” says Force Majeure director Kate Champion, “and I’d been thinking for some time that it was an issue I’d like to approach from a dance theatre perspective. And it seemed to me that Force Majeure was the perfect company to do it.
“Then Christos Tsiolkas published The Slap in 2009. I’ve always admired his work from his first novel, Loaded, which was turned into a fantastic film in Head On. He’s a keen observer of social issues and he’s not afraid to get right inside them. And at the same time there was a lot of media coverage about some countries passing laws against slapping. Then the incredible TV series really brought it to a head. The TV series was on while we were completing work on Never Did Me Any Harm, so it was a pretty exciting time.”
Never Did Me Any Harm premiered in Sydney last year, and caused something of a sensation. “The association of the piece with The Slap meant that a lot of people came to see it assuming it focused on that alone, but they quickly realised that it’s a lot more than that. It’s about bringing up children, really, with all the good stuff and bad stuff that goes along with it. People were surprised at how funny it is at times. But that’s the nature of childhood and parenting. We wanted to break down the stereotypes so we have some obviously middle aged people playing kids, and I was amazed at how readily audiences went with that. And the performers have been fantastic, they’ve given a huge amount to the work. Quite a few of them are parents, and it’s really benefitted from their experience.”
Kate is looking forward to the second season of the work. “The first run is a time for learning, and I was pleased to see that Never Did Me Any Harm worked just fine, and it really needed very little work once it was up and running. You make a few tweaks, and we’ve got one cast change for Adelaide, and it’ll be good to launch the touring season of it there.
“I’m really pleased that we’re in the Adelaide Festival program this year,” Kate says, “We had a fantastic reception for the last piece we did in the festival, The Age I’m In, and it reminded me how adventurous Adelaide audiences are, especially in Festival-time. We’re looking forward to being there.”
Pictured: Left to right_Vincent Crowley, Heather Mitchell, Kirstie McCracken, Sarah Jayne Howard & Josh Mu. Photo: Lisa Tomasetti
Never Did Me Any Harm is in the Space Theatre from 14 to 17 March. Book at Bass.