Saturday, January 14, 2017

White Cloud: Tim Finn

Tonight Fran, Lara and I headed to the intimate Fairfax Studio at the Arts Centre Melbourne to see the second of three performances this weekend for White Cloud: Tim Finn. This one hour and 15 minutes performance was written by Tim Finn and New Zealand playwright Ken Duncum. It focused on family, identity and home through the telling of generational stories using a mix of spoken word, music and song. Tim, who moved between acoustic guitar, piano and ukulele, was accompanied by long time collaborator Brett Adams on electric guitar. Video artist Sue Healey compiled the projected visuals for the performance out of home movies from the Finn and Healey family archives.

Written as a series of impressions, the narrative jumps around between families and different eras of life in New Zealand for its white settlers (Pakeha) and their interactions with native Maori people. Most of the music is original to the show, but there were glimpses of Tim's Split Enz back catalogue with the opening verse of "Haul Away," the piano intro to "Remember When" and a bit of the chorus to "I Hope I Never" played on the piano in the swing style of his mother. The song "White Cloud, Black Shadow" joined all the bits together as it was played in four parts throughout the performance.

The show is thought provoking as it calls upon the stories of ancestors through journals, letters and memoirs. It gets you thinking about your own family history and where home resides when you are an immigrant. The most touching part of the performance for me was the section about Tim's mother Mary, with it's recorded bits of dialogue from a journal she wrote about her life as she was dying of cancer. We were lucky to be at the show where Tim did a Q&A afterwards, and he spoke about the fact that he feels her presence each time he performs the show. It was good to hear his thoughts and explanations about things as it made parts of the show clearer since it isn't written as a traditional narrative. If you have the opportunity I would definitely recommend checking out White Cloud.

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