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Wednesday October 2, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday October 2, 2013 MYT 8:56:22 AM
by dinesh kumar maganathan
Carmen Soo’s character in 2 Minute Solos makes an unsettling discovery upon returning home.
Five Arts Centre’s latest project redefines the actor-audience relationship.
HOW would you feel if strangers invaded your home and watched your life unfold? Even worse, what if they caught you at your weakest moment?
Stride into the set of Five Arts Centre’s 2 Minute Solos and you will experience just that. Only, you will be the stranger watching, as a voyeur or a friend, 11 different stories unravel before your very eyes.
Facilitated by Marion D’Cruz, 2 Minute Solos features Anne James, Charlene Rajendran, David Wong, Fatimah Abu Bakar, Fikri Fadzil, Jacqueline Ann Surin, Low Ngai Yuen, Melissa Teoh, Munkao, Vernon Adrian Emuang and Zahim Albakri.
“I invited 11 people to be part of this project. Some are performers and some are not. They were then asked to create a two-minute solo in their allotted, individual spaces, which were determined by drawing lots. They could do it themselves or they could direct someone else,” said D'Cruz in a recent interview.
Democratisation of the artistic space and creating an unusually intimate relationship between the performer and the audience is something Marion has been interested in for some years.
She said she wants to “dismantle and deconstruct present notions of performance and find new ways of making performance.”
What D'Cruz has essentially done is exploit the notion of immersion and remove the fourth-wall, totally extinguishing the space between audience and actors. But instead of making the audience sit in the set of the performance, which in most cases is the stage, 2 Minute Solos takes it up by a notch and makes use of the Five Arts Centre building, at once putting the audience in a very real space.
Just imagine, standing at the top of the staircase, surrounded by all the framed posters, books, couches, a ceiling fan and several doors and then, someone starts walking up the staircase, going through some sort of emotional turmoil.
And that is exactly what makes this project interesting. Eleven different spaces within Five Arts Centre, including the kitchen and the toilet, will be utilised as a performance space for all 11 solos. Not only that, these solos will begin at the same time, allowing four audience members to watch one piece at a time.
Low Ngai Yuen, who directs Carmen Soo, had to utilise the staircase for her piece, which is about a woman returning home and making a discovery. The story told happens six hours after the discovery is made.
Low was careful not to reveal what this discovery is, but shared that Soo and her explored different kinds of discoveries, from happy to shocking ones and settled on one that both of them were comfortable with.
But audiences will be doing more than just watching Soo’s performance.
“The audience will walk through the staircase first before the character enters; dotting the staircase are items which may give them a clue about the story but also could make things complicated for them!” Low said, giggling.
On top of that, Low added, they will be given earphones connected to an MP3 player and “what will be played are what could be thoughts of the character as she is coming up. So, they will listen to the recording and watch the scene happening. It’s quite sensory driven.”
Soo confessed that she was positively challenged as an actor in 2 Minute Solos.
“It’s quite a task because the audience is in my space and if I were to look down or look up at them, it affects them as they are so close to me.
“So, I have to control my level of energy and make sure my actions and expressions aren’t too small either.
“It’s also quite emotional for me because a lot of things are going on in my head and to go through that 22 times a night is quite a challenge,” Soo said.
Twenty-two times? Since only a maximum of 44 audience members can be accommodated at each performance, there will be two performances per day.
Both Low and Soo agreed that 2 Minute Solos is a community driven project due to its location, and opined that due to its unconventional nature, the experience for the audience will be something different altogether. Audience members are put in situations that force them to think out of the box.
Said D'Cruz: “They might like the experience or they may not. They might find some pieces great. They might not like some pieces. Anything is possible.”
2 Minute Solos will be playing at Five Arts Centre, 27 & 27A, Lorong Datuk Sulaiman 7, Taman Tun Dr Ismail. Entry is by donation of RM15. Showtimes: Oct 3 to 5 (8pm and 9.30pm); Oct 6 (3pm and 4.30pm). For bookings, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03-7725 4858 (10am-5pm).
Tags / Keywords:
Entertainment, 2 Minute Solos, Five Arts Centre, theatre, Marion D'Cruz, Low Ngai Yuen, Carmen Soo, immersive theatre
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