Fears and anxieties are according to research and media reports on the increase in our society, and the discussion of “where does emotional/verbal/physical abuse really start” reaches new hights. It leaves us with a lot of questions of how to actually deal with other people sensibly enough. The piece explores which struggles we face in common, daily routines and how easy we switch from being a victim to become the abuser, how often we actually encounter such situations in our lives and how we change the roles frequently, often unintentionally.

‘FIRST THINGS FIRST’ is a performance piece, written and directed by interdisciplinary artist bello benischauer, presented in the postdramatic and experimental style of his Existence Theatre Productions, performed by Elisabeth M Eitelberger, Helah Milroy, Jemma Fleming and Ross Hamilton.

Duration: approx. 70 min – no interval.

About: Four people in couples try to sort out their lives but have one thing in common, they share the dream of a journey to escape the conflicts of reality. Different scenes give insight into some of their daily, more or less dramatically unfolding encounters. Two different kinds of relationships seem surreal at times, their worlds touch only briefly at one point. Aggression, suppressed feelings, victimisation and dominating the other besides feeling small and unloved are all part of their explorations, which could either escalate or just drag on, leading nowhere.

There are gender issues and traumatic experiences, which stay unclear of nature but obviously impact their present actions. There are backflashs of awkward situations at the doctor’s, the therapist’s, the police station, at working different jobs. Everything told and shown outlines ‘something that happened’ and more than one metaphor unfolds. ‘First things first’ plays with one’s individual imaginations and how interpreting perceptions are informed. Personal experiences and the Media contribute to what choices we make, how we act.

With their newest production ‘Existence Theatre’ once again reflects on urgent socio-cultural issues in present-day society and asks questions about how ignorant or aware we are about our human existence. Although ‘First things first’ has an open ending, it is clear that voicing our concerns and confronting us directly with issues that bother us is something that needs to be played out in real time. This way we can move forward and become ourselves in society to live, to experience, to dance.

A PLAY IN TWO ACTS, two places – two worlds – different issues – same fear of loneliness

Two local people. They live together. They have conversations and face situations, in which their relationship is highly under threat. Why, because one thinks to be gay, the other is not, but somehow they fall in love. They start to remember awkward situations or do they just imagine them? In any case, something always comes in their way to prevent them from enjoying their togetherness and it all gets complicated and messy. Typical flatmate issues seem to interfere with a love story that just won’t happen. They struggle on the edges from victim to abuser and change the roles frequently. Still they stick together, what else should they do with their lives.

Somewhere else on this planet. Two women share the same dream, their circumstances are not clear. While one struggles to keep her head up, the other plans their trip to a faraway place, where everything would be different. And whereas the one keeps drifting off into isolation out of her fear to change, the other drags her along and becomes the abusive counterpart that just tries to get her way, no matter what it takes and only because she is frightened to move on by herself.

written by Elisabeth M Eitelberger and Bello Benischauer | ART IN PROCESS | Existence Theatre Production 2019