Clingan turns ageing into theatre

Judith Clingan at residence along with her music. Picture: Helen Musa.

LEGENDARY Canberra composer and musical id, Judith Clingan, is 78 this 12 months, and it’s obtained her occupied with, effectively, ageing.

Clingan, the primary Canberra Artist of the Yr, based the Canberra Youngsters’s Choir, Gaudeamus Music For Everybody (now Music for Canberra), the Canberra Recorder and Early Music Society, Women’ Mantle and the Younger Music Society, to call just a few.

Now, below the umbrella of her organisation, Wayfarers Australia, she is staging her personal 90-minute play, “The Threshold”, which offers with questions of ageing and dying.

Set within the Australian Centre for Christianity & Tradition, the multi-media manufacturing will contain high musicians Johanna McBride, Andrew Purdam and David Cassat, a refrain of 16, a string quartet, piano, hammer dulcimer, recorder, flute, clarinet, pitch bells, and gongs.

And whereas she has composed 14 quick musical items for the work, she is adamant that it’s a play, not a chunk of musical theatre.

Clingan’s personal footage might be projected on to the partitions of the centre, which might be arrange like a restaurant with tables, tablecloths, flowers, and tea and biscuits on provide.

I caught up along with her at her residence in Rivett the place she informed me that she’s been occupied with the query of ageing for a while.

In March 2021 she despatched a listing of 14 inquiries to ladies of her age, asking them what they thought. So much gave written solutions. Some rang and a few visited her at residence to speak on to her.

Then in Might 2021, Clingan ran her tricycle right into a curb and located herself in hospital for an prolonged interval, the place individuals introduced her books on ageing, she learn up on the topic on-line and wrote the primary two bits of music.

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As soon as out of hospital, she accomplished her script, which revolves round 4 older ladies – Prima, Secunda, Tertia and Alta, who speak about life and what age does to your reminiscences in a “barely humorous” method to which Clingan thinks individuals over 70 will relate.

The characters, performed by Micki Beckett, Gill Christie, Alanna Maclean and Janet Berger, are emblematic of various phases in consciousness. One has simply misplaced her mum, one other is dealing with imminent dying, one other is a gossip and one other a form of sensible girl.

The play additionally examines what the tip of life would possibly imply – a easy cessation of being, a Buddhist view, the heaven and hell of the Abrahamic religions which posits a heaven and a hell, the extra liberal thought of common salvation or the Anthroposophical thought of reincarnation.

There may be some very private poetry written by Clingan, 4 poems by her Scottish good friend Mandy McDonald, phrases by Canberra poet Hazel Corridor and snatches of Rabindranath Tagore and Shakespeare.

“There are additionally chunks of actual tales and fairly a little bit of my family’s tales,” she says, with regards to her poet mom Marian, after whom Clingan Road in Wright was named.

However in weaving collectively realities, she discovered she touched few nerves, because the actors felt maybe they knew the real-life characters, although she was capable of assuage their considerations.

“It’s not a typical play, it’s not occasions shifting on, however everybody feels calm on the finish,” Clingan says.

“The Threshold”, Australian Centre for Christianity & Tradition, Barton, March 4 and  March 5 (11am).