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Christchurch sculpture inspires two creative endeavours

Christchurch sculpture inspires two creative endeavours

Ernest George Gillick’s well-known sculpture Ex Tenebris Lux (‘From Darkness Light’) is the inspiration behind a theatre production and symphony of the same name, both to be performed in Christchurch this month.

Theatre production Ex Tenebris Lux premieres at The Body Festival of Dance and Performance on October 8; an arresting marriage of original live music, movement and scripted narrative, and the result of a creative collaboration between writer and composer Jeremy Roake, and artist and curator Sarah Anderson. Together, they upend the premise of Holy Week service ‘Tenebrae’ during which all the lights are gradually extinguished. In post-earthquake Christchurch, Ex Tenebris Lux fittingly commences with darkness and ends with a light-filled arena.

Symphony no.3 Ex Tenebris Lux by composer and conductor Patrick Shepherd, will be premiered at theChristchurch Schools' Music Festival from 28 to 30 October. Shepherd said, “After the earthquake I felt that I wanted to do something positive for the children in the orchestra and so I decided to write a symphony. The title came straight away – ‘Ex Tenebris Lux.’ It is the title of a rather charming bronze statue in the foyer of the City Art Gallery that I had admired.”

“The project began to develop, that I would write a movement a year (there will be four movements in all and this year we present the second of these) and when the work is finished we will contact all the players who have ever played in it and have one super-orchestra to play it through, maybe even perform it as part of the Festival or in its own concert. Last year we performed ‘The Fallen Cathedrals,’ which was about how the city had lost both its cathedrals and included a quotation from Debussy's piano piece La Cathedrale Engloutie (‘The Submerged Cathedral’). I then got the children to write down their responses and to make suggestions for the other movements, so this year's is entitled "Like a Scene from a Movie", because one phrase that keeps coming up from their and other people's earthquake experiences is that it was unreal, like watching a movie but more like being in one!,” said Shepherd.

Roake and Anderson worked with Directors Tom Eason and Holly Chappell from Two Productions to help them realise their vision. Collectively, they hope to give voice to all those who have been battered in some way; whether because of the global recession, grief, addiction or other life-changing disruptions. “All the elements in this production are of equal importance onstage and integrated to create a richly layered and evocative storytelling process. Full use is made of the power of Jeremy’s music and script to convey through humour, passion and pain this story of survival and ultimate renewal,” said Anderson.

Directors Eason and Chappell were drawn to Anderson and Roake’s vision and ambition for what they wanted to accomplish with Ex Tenebris Lux, saying “We love working on shows that try to take one art form and express that sentiment, or borrow principles and transfer it into theatre and the performing arts. The concept of dark to light, in the context of post-earthquake (Christchurch) makes it feel necessary to us without being literally about the earthquake,” said Eason and Chappell.

Funded and supported by the Christchurch Creative Communities, Body Festival, Christchurch Art Gallery and crowdfunding platform Boosted, Roake and Anderson’s production will be performed at the ‘Old’ Theatre, Rangi Ruru Girls School, Christchurch, from 8 to 10 October 2015. Tickets are available for sale at


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