The Farm is a group of like-minded artists, collaborating to produce physical performances highlighting the fragility and strength of the human condition. Their works range from traditional theatre and dance to outdoor installations, film and immersive theatre experiences.
Relocating to the Gold Coast three years ago thanks to the support of the City of Gold Coast, the company’s most recent production ‘Cockfight’ recently returned from playing 13 dates in the UK, including London, with another two shows in Chile on the way home.
We Are Gold Coast spoke to The Farm’s co-artistic director Gavin Webber about the company’s triumphant tour and what’s in store for 2018 and beyond.
Congratulations on the success of ‘Cockfight’. For people who didn’t see it, can you give us a synopsis of the production in just a few lines?
‘Cockfight’ explores the powerplay between men, the frailty of the ageing body and questions our culture’s desperate struggle for achievement. It’s like an episode of The Office mashed up with a cage fight. The show is intense, funny and surprisingly tender.
Gold Coast has an incredibly diverse and strong creative community. What strengths do you draw from being based here?
We know of people who are now moving to the coast because of its arts scene… that’s a massive cultural change. I think we can be really proud of what’s happening here and I want to see that support continue past the Commonwealth Games. The coast has a cultural identity, let’s keep it growing.
The Farm has grown considerably in recent years – partly due to City of Gold Coast support. Can you tell me about the impact that kind of support has on your ability to create new works?
The support has given us stability in a world of arts cutbacks. In three years we have grown massively and now with ‘Cockfight’ we have taken work made on the Gold Coast to the world. We think of ourselves as arts exporters, showcasing the cultural identity of the Coast as it grows and changes. Five years ago no one in Melbourne would have thought of seeing a contemporary dance company from the Gold Coast but now we’ve performed on four continents.
You’re only recently back from your first international tour of ‘Cockfight’ with show in UK and Chile. What was the highlight of the tour for you?
It’s hard to go past a standing ovation in London, that gives the ego a bit of a boost, but to be honest, going to Chile again after performing there last year was fantastic. If standing ovations are a great start to a tour, Pisco Sours are a really great way to finish!
And what was the response to the shows like?
We had one review that said it made them “want to shout to the rooftops: please, please, please go see it!” The reception was overwhelmingly positive. People don’t expect contemporary dance to be funny and at the same time deeply affecting. I think we rocked their worlds a little bit.
Obviously dance helps to break down language barriers that might exist in places like South America?
No entiendo?… okay seriously that’s always been something I love in the artform, exploring places beyond words and beyond rationality. You can take people into abstract worlds and make them dream.
You had incredibly positive reviews at every show. Audience tweets, standing ovations and even The Guardian naming the show a ‘cultural highlight’. How does that make you feel?
Now we can’t wait for the national tour! We’re incredibly proud of this work, we believe in it and know that it’s world class, but it’s still great to get our personal opinions confirmed (haha). We made this work on the Gold Coast and we just want as many people to see it as possible because it’s great to see the impact it has on people.
Where else will you take the production in 2018?
We have a national tour that goes all over the place. We’re heading to Darwin, Perth, Hobart, Mandurah, Frankston, Canberra, Toowoomba. I know I’ve forgotten venues and there’s still more being negotiated. It’s great to know there’s still a massive audience that will see the show this year.
And what’s next for The Farm? Do you have other productions in the pipeline, when will we see them?
There’s a little thing called the Commonwealth Games coming up, perhaps you’ve heard of it? We’ve got a couple of shows we’re doing then, plus we’re about to tour ‘Frank Enstein’ – another new work – in Western Australia. We’re running a workshop festival for local, national and international artists called Bare Bones in our studio The Farmhouse in February. We’ve got ‘The Crossing’ going to Supercell Festival in Brisbane, also in February, and then when the dust settles on the Commonwealth Games we start a co-production with Brisbane’s La Boite Theatre Company – and that’s only half the year gone!
Thanks to the support of Council, we’re in an amazing position where we have several shows up and touring while being able to focus ourselves more and more on our local community. The Farm is growing and we’re only just starting out.