High Performance Packing Tape at Festival UnWrapped

Ordinary everyday materials. Endless mind bending predicaments. This heart pumping physical performance pushes artist and audience to breaking point. You will never look at cardboard boxes, packing tape or rubber bands the same way again. 

Rosie spoke with Performer Lee Wilson about this edge of your seat work and how we can push the limits of physical performance. Read the full interview below:

Lee Wilson

High Performance Packing Tape places you in a series of mind-bending planes and predicaments with cheap materials such as stationary and disposable hardware. What inspired the creation of this work and why did you want to examine how far you can push physical performance?


This idea of working with objects and readymade items, stuff off the shelf, has been around the company and part of our practices for many years.  


I met with Mickie and got chatting about our time squatting in Sydney, and discussed some acquaintances we had who had a lot of industrial box straps stored in a warehouse and they were jumping into it and using it as a crash mat. I used to work as a store-person and packer, when I had to pack a truck full of boxes of goods for the supermarket, it was like Tetris, and I’d be climbing all around inside trying to get the perfect pack.  


There are moments in the performance where you suspend your body in the air from things as fragile as glad wrap! Is there ever a sense of fear that something could go wrong? How do you prepare for that?


The biggest thing is concentration and remembering to do things in a specific order. I can’t make any mistakes as they are costly, as in physically dangerous, if I don’t follow the steps.

You do something a lot of times until it feels safe. 


How do you de-prioritise safety and wellbeing and still preserve yourself as a performer? 


Everything needs to be in sequence. It’s one hour of intense concentration and physical endurance, and I try to take a few moments to recuperate mentally.  

Branch Nebula is an independent company that is renowned for socially and politically engaged performance work that emphasises site-specificity and interdisciplinary skills - how does High Performance Packing Tape fit within the Branch Nebula reputation?


We were interested in sharing with an audience how you can take an everyday object that is laying around the house and create a dynamic and dramatic performance, and challenge notions of what performance can be. 


Branch Nebula explores what’s risky to an audience.


It’s very much about control, about confronting the way we’re controlled by rules, because after a while we start to internalise them and think that we mustn’t do anything because we’ll be unsafe.

And then you actually are unsafe because you don’t know how to mitigate risk. You don’t explore.


What do you hope to achieve with High Performance Packing Tape?


We hope that High Performance Packing Tape exposes mainstream theatre audiences to experimental practice and that we are able to expand people’s ideas of what performance is. 




Favourite production you have ever seen? 

Muva Ball, House of Slé


You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go? 

Arnhem Land, NT 


Dream show to create?

Something like UFC vs Pole Dancing 


Plays or musicals?


A hobby you have beyond the theatre? 

Motorcycle riding, criticizing coffee, cats


What’s next for you after this show? 

Immediately after our season at the Sydney Opera House we do the show in Melbourne Festival. Then we go into rehearsals for a brand new street-style show, which will take place in a really prominent location on Circular Quay. 

High Performance Packing Tape opens at the Sydney Opera House as part of Festival UnWrapped on September 18, 2019. You can get your tickets here.

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