GABAN: Art Gallery of NSW 2022

Theatre Performance Work
By Brook Andrew
2-4 December 2022
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (AGNSW)

Composer: Benjamin Skepper

I was asked by Brook to compose the score to this provocative theatre work, GABAN, not only as a musician, but also as an actor within the work. My role was that of TIME, both as an expression of western time (the metronome) and indigenous or sacred time: non liner, cyclical and spiritual.

For the sound design, I approached the project from multiple angles: traditional western constructs, composing modern classical themes, rearranging baroque motifs from J.S Bach, blended with free improvisation, experimental and noise elements, on electric cello, electronics and laptop. I responded directly to the movements, words, voices and opera singers acting in the theatre work to create a highly reactive and interactive live performance.

The sound design also considered multiple performance locations within the AGNSW exhibition halls as the participants and audiences moved throughout the Museum. We made great use of wireless technologies as well as clever stage design to create a seamless sonic landscape for this ambitious 90 minute work.


From the Artist:

Written and directed by Brook Andrew, GABAN is a post-traumatic play that was premiered within the Grand Court Galleries of the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney. Gaban is a Wiradjuri word that means ‘strange’ and it describes the disconcerting experience that is the museum for many First Nations and Indigenous peoples. Summoning a number of interlinked stories concerning the mess of the colonial fall-out, the protagonists of GABAN are personifications of Powerful Objects – cultural objects retained in colonial collections – in dialogue with other characters who personify the institutional power of the museum. There are actions of amnesia, violence, repatriation and revenge in this story of re-awakening ancestral memories.

The House of GABAN company comprises of Rosell Flatley, Brian Fuata, Katy Green Loughrey, Dimitri Kleioris, Kameron Locke, Akala Newman, Budi Miller, Aaron Reeder, Red Rey, Benjamin Skepper, House of Slé (Davina, Fetu, Talo and Xuela), Georgia Taia, Latai Taumoepeau, Kilia Tipa and Olivia Xegas. Creative and production team include Paschal Daantos Berry, Jessica Neath and Cherie Schweitzer.

Benjamin Skepper Image credits: Karla Dickens