Shift is a dance theatre production that erupts the truth of mankind’s addiction to conflict and the cultural precipice it places us on. Invoking the push and pull, subduction and splitting of tectonic plates, Shift drags us down into the single beating heart of the earth’s core. Utilizing rich visual storytelling, immersive projection and volcanic beats and choreography, Shift presents a stark view of what’s to come. 

Hidden amongst the stone pillars and concrete walls of the Collingwood Underground Theatre, experimental theatre company WRUFFnTUMBLE continue their scientific exploration of the natural world and human behaviour in their second collaboration with the unusual performance space. Working with a soundtrack of human breath, heart beats and dubstep, paired with a ‘living’ set that expands and contracts in response to the performers, WRUFFnTUMBLE have created an immersive piece of dance theatre.

The Design

Diagrams of the earth were put forward by The Director (Oskar Jackson) and culminated the idea for ‘Shift’ through his signature obsession with science. With a starting point of the Iron Catastrophy this was then paralleled with the human need for conflict in an intense performance. From here I referenced the strata layers of rock through body painting as a nod to African performance aesthetic and to evoke a ritualistic feel to the performers, as if they are keepers or a narrative tribe lost in the cycle of the world’s creation and destruction. The use of organic and textured fabrics and hand knits renders the performers to appear like living sculptures, complimented by the Technical/ Projection Designer (Alexander Edwards) with his living visual effects. The pre – space was lit by delicate paper rock sculptures, ethereal and fragile in comparison to the intensity and solidity of the performance space – a disused underground carpark with heavy and cold concrete textures. The body paint would slowly crack and fall from the performers as they move around the space.


‘Some can find contemporary performance overwhelming, however in SHIFT, the different dynamics and physical awareness of the three performers combined with a simple yet complex lighting state makes for a compelling hour of dance and storytelling.

Travelling through the never-ending cycle of rebirth within the universe, Shift peels back the layers of the Earth and takes us to its core, exploring what was and the inevability of what is to come.’

‘With the projection on a one-hour long track you feel like they are all walking on a tightrope, if all the elements aren’t in place the whole world could come crashing down and we are right there with them every step of the exciting journey.’

‘It’s a real strength to their individuality as well as their unity as performers that so many different layers can sit so comfortably within the work. With the audience sitting three quarters around the pool of light I kept wishing I could jump round and see what the other audience members could see, not because I didn’t have a good vantage point, but because of the work’s diversity, I just wanted to engulf it from every angle.’

– Dean Arcuri,

SHIFT is an all-encompassing blend of neotribal dance and exploratory theatre that confronts the human need for conflict, and the effect it has on our culture. The quirky Collingwood Underground Theatre (previously a car park) is the perfect venue for such an intimate and intense performance. Every seat gets a different view as the action swirls around the concrete posts, accompanied by a musical soundtrack of human heartbeats, human breath and dub step. Sounds incredible, amiright?

– Carrie McCarthy, culturalflanerie

director/ performer Oskar Jackon
technical/ projection designer Alexander Edwards
producer/ performer Alana Hoggart
venue Collingwood Underground, Melbourne Australia
photographer Jacqui Dee
film maker Andre Matos Cardoso