UGLY – a NOT fairytale

UGLY – a NOT fairytale was a mixed media stage performance performed at the Mercury Cinema in Adelaide as part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2022. A Labyrinth Production, it was directed by Georgina Hahn, featuring Kaelia Cockington, Michael Jaxon Carson, Keshia Vitor, Lilian Lava, Karney Doll and Vee Von Claire, written by Andrew Dudek, Georgina Hahn, Michael Jaxon Carson and Michele Saint-Yves, choreographed by Michael Jaxon Carson and Anania Tikolamadra, costumes by Summer Sumner. I created nearly 90 minutes of animated, synthesised and composited video that was projected onto the cinema screen behind the live action. I also composed some music for several section of the piece.

The story was a simple one about a young person coming to grips with their difference, in the face of the potentially conflicting elements of fire, air, earth and water, and the ever-present threat of their self-confidence being eclipsed by the ill-will of others. A constant metaphor was one of butterflies, with their metamorphosis from caterpillar to winged adult.

Making the video for UGLY was a long and complex process, requiring coordination and matching of many factors: the story line, the soundtrack that had been provided to me, the actors in their interactions with each other and the projection, and the physical attributes of the performance space itself. More than 12 months work went into the video production, during which I pushed my technical knowledge and the capabilities of my computer to the limits. But it all ended up coming together beautifully and my video work was greatly admired, much to my relief.

Once the show’s season was finished, and as it became clear that we would not remount it, I repurposed some of the video and music I had made for the show. Eventually, I ended up with four new poetry videos, all of which have done very well around the world, including versions in Spanish or French. For all of this, I am deeply grateful to the wonderful partnerships and friendships we formed in the course of making UGLY.

The video links here include a promo for the show, an excerpt from recordings of the performances, and the new poetry videos I generated.