Join me…under the table

“theatre is not dependent upon its location” (Freshwater 2009, p.2).

 

During this week’s workshop we were instructed to produce a 5 minute one to one performance. At first this seemed impossible with no direction or stimulus to follow, but after discussing intimacy within a performance, the first ‘space’ that caught my eye was the small table that our lecturer used as a desk. I immediately went to this table, crawled underneath and sat under it. The space was very small and cramped, but with a squeeze would enable another audience member to fit. This then became my performance space.

photophoto (1)

(Photos: Under the Table. Taken -8 November 2013)

 

 “Intimacy enables two sentient beings, who feel comfortable enough with each other on an emotional and/or physical level, to reveal something about themselves,” (Chatzichristodoulou and Zerihan 2012, p.1).

I found a black sheet to cover my table with and managed to squeeze a bean bag under so that my audience member would feel more comfortable. My performance was a whispered discussion about dreams, in which my audience member could reveal their most frightening and enjoyable dream experiences. Referring to the quote above, this describes that intimacy is between people that know each other well. Of course, not everyone has established incredibly close friendships within the class. This whole concept of being in such tight proximities with another person and also sharing emotions and personal thoughts that you wouldn’t normally share, was fascinating to experiment with, and to “impose situations of explicit intimacy and proximity between the artists’ bodies and the bodies of others, sometimes in more directly intimate settings of a one-to-one performance,” (Chatzichristodoulou and Zerihan 2012, p.39-40).

Some of my audience members sat up in the space, whereas some lied down, resting their head on the bean bag. The experiment worked really well, as I aimed to achieve a performance that not only incorporated a physically intimate space, but also made it more comfortable for others to talk to me even if they didn’t know me that well. The performance felt confessional, not too dissimilar to that of a Christian confession booth, but without the anonymity of the listener as it was affected by my own personality and presence. It was a personal and shared experience and I’d be interested to see how far this idea could go.

With the preliminary idea of experimenting with the theme of entrapment for our assessed performance, I realised, whilst under the table, this could be a significant exercise for my group to have engaged in. From the start of the devising process we have had many ideas for the final performance, and toyed with the idea of us being physically trapped for a length of time. It was then that I presented the idea of being inside three boxes for the duration of our performance, perhaps wearing night vision cameras for our audience to watch on a screen showing how we are isolated from each other, trapped and only accessible through this perspective. Although, perhaps the audience having access to us visually would undermine this sense of entrapment and therefore it might be better if they were unable to see us or unaware of our presence.

 

Work Cited

Chatzichristodoulou, Maria and Rachel Zerihan (2012) Intimacy Across Visceral and Digital Performance, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Freshwater, Helen (2009) theatre & audience, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

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