Performance Reaction:
The FIVE Provocations

by Angie Black

The FIVE Provocations (2018, 95 mins, Australia, dir: Angie Black)

Cinema is an immersive place to escape but often we’re told, especially within mainstream film dominant on Australian screens, that life is neat, ordered and structured. We may experience tricky times and it is harrowing, but there will always be a resolution. But real life isn’t like that and that’s why I’m drawn to films that don’t always answer all the questions.

The FIVE Provocations is exactly that, it is an unconventional narrative that follows the stories of four characters who at time interact but are caught up in their own lives just like all of us. The film provokes the audience to think about how we grieve and learn to overcome the loss we all face at some point, but it doesn’t really provide answers.

I started this film with the idea of merging some selected live performance scenes into a narrative fiction film. I’m a big fan of all forms of performance. I love the way performance art and theatre can captivate and move an audience. I wanted to document some of the contemporary performances I’d seen but beyond the idea of a documentary.

I was keen to capture the rawness of the responses to the work much in the same way that audiences react to the work when viewing it for the first time in live performance. So to do this meant I had to work with actors and prepare them for unexpected characters and not tell them these scenes were going to happen. I had to allow the narrative space to change once the characters responded to these largely improvised scenes – these are the provocations. It’s Mike Leigh meets Miranda July – it’s a mash up of character devised narrative with live performance pieces from some of the stars of the Australian cabaret scene who provoke both the characters and the audience.

Some viewers may recognise the works of the performer/cabaret artists in the film. I was keen to see what happens when you drop those performances into everyday settings rather than see the works in a theatre space. I prepared the actor for the possibility of new characters entering scenes but they had no idea who they were going to be, or that some of them would be so much more larger than life. How the actor in character responds in the film is their initial response. The actors didn’t know these interactions (what we’ve called provocations) were going to occur and it was so thrilling to see them engage with them.

What happens to those people we meet momentarily? They come into our lives once and then we never see them again. All of them have their own stories, issues and concerns, often we don’t see anything beyond the first impression. People are complicated.

Could you imagine hearing someone crying from another room and going in to see if they are ok only to find Yana Alana in bed? Pretty crazy huh? I mean I absolutely love her to pieces but she’s also pretty damn scary if you’re not prepared for her!

The FIVE Provocations website has news and info about the film.

Angie Black is a VCA graduate and multi-award winning filmmaker. The FIVE Provocations (2018) is her debut feature.

Published May 31, 2018. © Angie Black 2018.