Using an innovative blend of science fiction tropes, live cinema and exquisitely detailed 1:8 miniatures, UFO is a funny, freaky encounter of the third kind that we promise you’ve never experienced before - from the ever-inventive re:group performance collective. Available to tour following its successful premiere at Griffin Theatre Company.
The experimental use of play in both theatrical and multimedia aspects has always been at the heart of what re:group does, and UFO continues this … you would be doing yourself a disservice by not letting yourself escape into a sense of childlike wonder.
UFO is a new live-cinema sci-fi theatre work performed on a 1:8 miniature golf course, using exquisitely detailed scale miniatures of the actors.
On the putting green at the edge of a regional town, a group of young people have been recruited for a highly confidential and, it turns out, highly dull job: to keep tabs on a grounded UFO. Sitting still and silent for weeks, the workers are about to call it quits when…
Thoroughly whimsical, UFO is directed by Solomon Thomas, who infuses a gentle humour, that crescendos to a satisfying comedic peak at its penultimate moments.
UFO depicts a group of very ordinary humans, as they struggle to deal with the perceived crisis at hand when a spacecraft lands on a golf course in their regional Australian town. They build protocols, lay out the red tape, and buy time until the authorities arrive. The audience watches these individuals build a hierarchy and arbitrary rules, all as a means to defend against ever actually having to do something about the problem at hand.
UFO offers a more realistic alternative to the epic blockbuster style narratives about human-alien relations to which we have become accustomed. The focus of this show is on humans dealing with each other at the precipice of the unknown, as they scramble to create order where there is none. It reflects the larger global issues of how to act in the face of the crisis that we are currently experiencing, and the fear of the unknown that resides on the other side of any such situation.
In 2017 I had an idea to make a show that involved an actual ‘life-size’ UFO landing in an actual field. Audiences would sit in their cars and watch a spaceship land on the horizon. Around the same time that I had this idea, my friend Kirby invited me to a listening party of War of the Worlds by Orson Wells. We crawled under his house with a record player and lay on rugs and listened to it on vinyl. It was clear that Kirby was the perfect person to write a piece that would happen after the UFO lands. Kirby agreed and began to write.
A year later, sitting by a river in Japan with my partner Hannah, I complained that I still had no idea how I was going to build a ‘life-size’ UFO. She asked me, “what about miniatures?”
Enter another friend: Chris Howell. Chris described a process to me whereby he could 3D scan a person and then, with a 3D printer, he could print their likeness in miniature form. I learnt how to utilise this 3D printing process myself. I added some puppet joins into the design, a miniature set and some cameras. In this process of realisation, I found a form wherein the scale of the UFO could be staged using miniature puppets of the performers. Within this form, everything came together. Kirby's play about what we do when we face something larger than ourselves (whether that be a UFO or overly bureaucratic power structures) came to life in the puppeteering of the miniatures of ourselves.
Over the long course of making UFO, bushfires ravaged the country, skirting the doorstep of my family home in Bega. Then, before we could recover, Covid-19 plunged the country into further chaos. For me, UFO is about how we act in the face of all these crises that we have been experiencing. It looks at the failing bureaucracy and the fear of the unknown that resides on the other side of any such situation.
- Soloman Thomas
"re:group have taken new technology to the stage that has in the past been seen in larger scale and bigger budget events such as North by Northwest and The Picture of Dorian Gray and made it more accessible and intimate, while pointing the way that future theatre can interact with technology, opening up endless possibilities.”
John Moyle - City Hub
“UFO is WTF. Winding theatre and film. Or wrapping theatre with film. It’s theatre, Jim, but not as we know it."
Richard Cotter - Sydney Arts Guide
“The dryly funny script, clever photography, excellent low-fi effects and Tom Hogan’s sound design frequently delight and often impress.”
Jason Blake - Limelight
“What we were perceiving was the undeniable potential of a cast and crew of young creative minds, who are already capable of pushing the boundaries of theatrical form to ingenious comic effect.”
Hamish Lewis - Honi Soit
“While there is both bite and charm in the story, the main intent of UFO is to visually immerse the audience in the performance. In this aim it is entirely successful.”
Catherine Skipper - South Sydney Herald
Photo credit: Lucy Parakhina
If you are interested in touring get in contact!
Arts on Tour
02 8038 1880
Arts on Tour is based in Redfern NSW and we respectfully acknowledge the Gadigal people as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the unceded land on which we work.
As we tour artists and productions across these vast lands, we pay our respect to all First Nations Elders, past, present and future.
We celebrate their continuing connection and contribution to culture, country and community, and thank all First Nations peoples for their wisdom in caring for the land, the sky, the rivers and the sea.