Black light, body paint and circus are three things rarely combined but Jessica Watson Miller says merging these different elements is the point of her show Luminous.
Watson Miller is Luminous’ director. She is a top-class body painter, having competed in the World Bodypainting Festival and was crowned Australian champion of the art in 2011. Her work is internationally recognised and Luminous is billed as “the only show of its kind in the world”. Standing out in the Fringe – where dozens of shows compete to do just that – can be a struggle but when you are a champion body painter, have a swag of UV lights, and circus performers on your side, that task gets easier. When asked what drew Watson Miller to body painting over another creative practice she explains that the impermanence of the art is what fascinates her. “You can’t put your artwork away and come back tomorrow with body painting, because your canvas will go and take a shower.” Luminous is a way to combine things she loves; circus and UV body paint. Like any good Fringe show, Luminous draws on the skills of the cast to be more than just performers. Everyone has something to contribute, be it ideas for new contortion positions, juggling routines, disappearing acts or electricity and lighting expertise. That said, creating a show of such complexity is no cakewalk. Since light and objects create shadows, full coverage of the arena is important to maintain the illusion of glowing specimens onstage. Watson Miller explains that one solution to this was to construct umbrellas with their own UV lighting. Unfortunately, these were lost in a taxi on the opening night of the Fringe. Attempts to recover them, including a pleading Channel 10 Tweet and Luminous’ producer putting her number on a huge blackboard in the middle of town, have been unsuccessful. Performed at La Petite Grande in Gluttony, Luminous shares its space with a few other acts. Since the other acts don’t rely on the tent being completely blacked out, along with UV lights and circus equipment, there is an almighty bump in and out each night. Aside from the sets, there is the paint to clean up inside the venue, as well as off the performers. “By the end of the show there is body paint everywhere: on the bottom of peoples’ feet, inside suitcases. Our producer even got some on her the other day and she’s not in the show.” Constructing and taking down the Luminous set, plus cleaning the paint off performers and props, speaks to the same temporary nature of the show that Watson Miller is so enthralled by. With shows selling out, the chance to see this one of a kind performance might soon disappear as quickly as paint in the shower. Luminous Gluttony (La Petite Grande) Continues until Sunday, March 2 gluttony.net.au