Next up at the Flying Nun is AUTO TUNE by re:group Performance Collective. Typically, Brand X doesn't allow animals into the theatre space, but for a Man Wolf possessing strange super powers, we were glad to make the exception. Creative Producer Malcolm Whittaker tells us a bit about re:group's next sensation: 


Q. The latest in the re:group repertoire, can you tell us what inspired the conception of AUTO TUNE? 

Its beginnings were very off the cuff, very rough, sort of ‘band-y’. The first iteration was an online performance during the second big Sydney lockdown. Mark had just bought a vocal effects pedal, and grabbed a wolf mask that was lying around from Halloween and put something together the day of the scratch night. It went well and we took it further at Intimate Spectacle’s ‘Out Of Iso’ performances, adding in a video/animation element and some live captioning. But the central vibe of it remained quite musical, with the main performance being sort of loose - this weird Wolfman singing sad boy rap songs. We were interested in taking a form like pop-music and using it in a very direct way to stage a narrative. What if the songs could all form a sort of story while we performed it?  A sort of live art ‘concept gig’

Thematically, it’s kind of a B-Side from Coil, our last big show. Auto-Tune picks up on some of re:group’s obsessions  - loss, new technologies, friendship, outdated media formats - but remixes them in a new way. 


Q. Tell us about the significance of the wolf mask, what it symbolises within the show and what it represents outside of AUTO TUNE. 

So there are two answers here. One glib and one a little more considered. Both equally true:

1. Mark just had one lying around and it looked cool.

2. The wolf mask recalls a whole bunch of musicians who were interested in creating a kind of persona though masks: MF DOOM, Daft Punk, Slipknot, Wes Borland from Limp Bizkit, Insane Clown Posse (you’re getting a sense of the era of the work even just from these artists!). It also suggests the idea of a lone wolf - adolescent males who break away from their communities because they’re too horny and violent (which again suggests something about the nu-metal era the narrative is set in!). Of course, wolves are actually pack animals. So immediately there’s an interesting question about the solo artist Wolfman: what pack is he missing from?


Q. How will AUTO TUNE challenge conventional theatre / cinema form on stage? What can audiences expect?

With Auto Tune, we’re trying to make an operatic song cycle that tells a narrative - but always keep it teetering on the border of being theatre at all. Theatre is a hypermedium, it can contain multiple media all at once; video/audio/text/spectacle. We’re trying to push that in a very direct way towards an audience’s live encounter with the narrative through music and live text. Like you might at a gig! Hopefully the show will feel like discovering your new favourite band at a festival set. Or becoming a bit too invested in the story of the guy embarrassing himself at the open mic.


We’re also working with actual, legit musicians and songwriters - Snowy of Snowy Band and Ashley Bundang of Classic - so the songs are total bangers. 


Q. Tell us a bit about re:group; what sets you apart from modern collectives? 

At heart, re:group is a friendship before it’s a theatre company. The theatre we make is a natural extension of that. This is maybe a bit utopian, but sharing a vision together and battling to make something impossible work is a great way to spend time with your mates. We each have our own individual interests and expertise, which collide and overlap in (we hope) interesting ways. Our shared interest in a DIY approach to film has produced a bunch of shows, but we’re keen on branching out sideways as well.


Q. What does re:group hope to gain from their residency with The Flying Nun and what do you plan to do with AUTO TUNE after the residency?

The hope is to have a first full draft of the show with all the songs, and to see if it’s of interest to people! From there it’ll go into further development, hopefully to make a robust, exciting and flexible touring show for festivals and pubs.


Tickets are still available for AUTO TUNE. Friday 3rd Feb & Saturday 4th Feb!
Auto Tune is incorporating AUSLAN and Audio Description services into its performances. 
Book tickets here.