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Cut the Sky - Carriageworks (NSW)

Concept by Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain with Patrick Dodson. Directed by Rachael Swain

Marrugeku utilise their interdisciplinary artform to meld two of our nations most important issues in a piece that is not an easy watch, but neither are the show's vital themes

Reviewed by Justin Clarke

Carriageworks, Eveleigh

Until 13th July, 2024

Blackout. A rush of haze cascades into the space. A slow rhythm hums and drones. White lights slowly rise on an oil drill, pumping minerals offstage. Gasping breaths take over the soundscape as our eyes adjust on the bodies in space, contorting and writhing on their feet, leaning impossibly backwards without falling. Cut the Sky cascades into an interdisciplinary artform reflecting on climate change as the backdrop to explore Indigenous resilience and displacement. The intersection of artforms never lets up, and the final image is one of hope.

Marrugeku, Australia’s leading Indigenous intercultural dance collective “builds bridges and breaks down walls…between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists and between local and global situations.” Their latest work, Cut the Sky, brings the collective fear of the effects of climate change into the vastness of the Carriageworks space, whilst interspersing the ongoing struggles of displacement and resistance in our First Nations citizens.

Cut the Sky, Marrugeku (2024). Images by Prudence Upton

The concept by Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain with Patrick Dodson, utilises contemporary songs, featuring a recognisable tune about paving paradise to put up a parking lot. At the same time, haze pumps out of an oil drill, projecting a hellscape mining hole sitting behind. Swain’s direction is poignant and reflective, not wanting to wow with flashy lights and effects, instead, the confronting nature of the work is somethingly articulated by Pigram and Serge Aimé Coulibaly’s versatile choreography.

Ghostly, evocative vocals, written and recorded by Ngaiire are interspersed to build a sense of disturbance; a warning of what’s to come should those in power fail to act. The vocals and dialogue of Edwin Lee Mulligan’s reflective poems are muffled, whether purposefully or a failure of sound design isn’t clear, but it provides an overall atmosphere of deafness. The warnings we see in the world falling on deaf ears.

Amidst the futility of this built world as a result of climate change, the vocality of displacement is confronted head on.

Stephen Curtis’ costume design features an array of plastics, swishing and crumpling through space on the bodies of the dancers. They fight for warmth and shelter in a world where rain hasn’t come in a generation. The overall dryness of the piece comes through in the thick haze that infiltrates the space from the start, a small scent of burnt wood floating throughout. 

Amidst the futility of this built world as a result of climate change, the vocality of displacement is confronted head on. Images of a mob protesting for the protection of their sacred land against drilling stands out in the piece, the politician spouting facts of “friendship” sending tuts and guffaws from audience members. The interdisciplinary artform melds two of the largest ongoing situations we face as a nation, and two that continuously feel as if they are being run in circles.

Cut the Sky is not an easy watch, but neither are the very real world themes which they present.

The ending of Cut the Sky literally cuts a liquid line in space, providing an air of hope and dreams. But with the message of the importance of water being central to the piece, did the onstage trickery make this redundant?

Cut the Sky is not an easy watch, but neither are the very real-world themes which they present. The question becomes how much do we care to do something? How much do you care to walk out of the space and actually do something?


With permission, this performance contains the images of people who have passed away. This performance also contains strobe light, haze and smoke effects.

Cut the Sky is collaboratively created by:

Creative and Cultural team Concept: Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain with Patrick Dodson

Director: Rachael Swain

Choreographers: Dalisa Pigram and Serge Aimé Coulibaly

Cultural Dramaturg: Patrick Dodson

Dramaturg: Hildegard de Vuyst

Poems: Edwin Lee Mulligan

Visual concept & Media Artists: Sonal Jain and Mriganka Madhukaillya

Set and Costume Designer: Stephen Curtis

Musical Director: Matthew Fargher

Songwriter & recorded vocals: Ngaiire

Lighting Designer: Damien Cooper

Associate Lighting Director: Kelsey Lee

Cinematographer and video production: Sam James

Rain effect designer: Joey Ruigrok Van Der Werven


Co-devising Performers 2024-25: Samuel Hauturu Beazley, Emmanuel James Brown, Emma Harrison, Dalisa Pigram, Ngaire Pigram, Taj Pigram, Miranda Wheen

Previous co-devising Performers (2015-18) Eric Avery, Josh Mu, Edwin Lee Mulligan 



Production Manager and lighting operator: Aiden Brennan

Sound and video production and operation:Declan Barber

Company Stage Manager: Ruben Neman

 ProducingProducer: Natalie Smith


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