Stunt Double is a fun and physical action-packed blockbuster from visionaries The Farm. They are known for their highly creative collaborative works that use bodies and space in new and creative ways, such as 2020’s Brisfest smash hit Throttle, which was also inspired by film. We sat down with performer and script creator Gavin Webber about loving B-grade movies, creating a script focused on physical language, and looking like a 70’s Ozploitation film star.
The work of stunt doubles is one of those in-front-of-the-camera but behind-the-scenes aspects of film that is front and centre and yet invisible. The Farm break this open and expose the mechanics of film to the viewer.
“Stunt Double pushes hard by incorporating the process of film making into the work. You actively watch take after bruising take of live action sequences. We were interested in using this device as a way to explore hierarchy, power and privilege. We became fascinated by the idea of stunt doubles and how they work so hard only to get effectively edited from view. The idea of ownership over the body became equally interesting, the way the stunt double’s body represents the character and therefore is partly owned by the actor.
The Farm is known for exceeding the limits (both conceptually and physically) of theatre.
Once again, Stunt Double steps into the unexpected and pushes the boundaries. The script was developed out of improvisations and creative developments and differs from traditional scripts in that it includes a lot of physical language.
“Our work is usually 100% devised on the floor but the size and scale of the production necessitated a different approach. Each development we were working on a different section, then stitching everything together at the end. Our ambitions were, as always, vast, but we remained always true to the central question we were dealing with how one person’s talent gets used for another person’s fame.”
Behind the action stunts and the dramatized scenes, there was a deeper reason for making a piece of contemporary art that is set in a 70’s action flick.
“The 70’s were a time of change, when it seemed like everything was shifting for the better but here we are, 50 years on, and we’re not entirely convinced it has. We’re again in a moment where it seems like older values are being challenged and walls are starting to crack. But if the structures that support the basic inequality don’t also break, then the system is reverts to form. In Stunt Double the system is represented by the filming process and use of stunt doubles. There’s a necessary hierarchy in that system that creates a basic inequity. We became fascinated by the parallels we could draw between that world and our own.
Cinephiles will love the inspiration behind the show’s creation.
“Secretly, our love of B-grade cinema motivated us to choose this path. It’s not so high faluting, or honourable, but who doesn’t love a good Ozploitation flick? The tropes and cliches are our way in, we use humour and stunts to create a celebration where the audience is tricked into overlooking what is taking place under the surface. There are two shows really, the one that sits on top and is full of gags and stunts and egos, and the one that sits underneath, bubbling quietly away until the lid comes off and the whole thing boils over.”