THREE SECRETS

Returning to WA after successful productions overseas the EXISTENCE THEATRE (AUS/AT) invites you to immerse yourself in emotionally guided situations that comment on the many secrets that we hold on to. In this not to be missed performance boundaries between performers and audience collapse.
Three characters touch on issues concerning their own gender, expressing how they deal with pain, self-doubts and fragility caused by societal and cultural standards, remembering their childhood.
Regardless of whether being seated as a spectator on the sides or choosing to be in the middle of the action around you with overlapping monologues, everyone in the audience gets a different close-up story to take home.

Installation view, POST CONTEMPORARY INSTITUTE OF MODERN ART – Jessee Lee Johns, PS Art Space.

Mrs Woodmillars – Helah Milroy | Mr Love – Aska Siragusa | Miss Good – Nathalie Boukpeti

dramaturgy and development – elisabeth m eitelberger

written, directed & live sound – bello benischauer

in English (with small parts spoken in French and Japanese)

84 min – no interval

15. & 22. June 2018 – 7:30pm PS ART SPACE 22 Pakenham Street, FREMANTLE WA

After the PSAS performance we invite the audience members to join us in the bar and to share a (vegetarian) meal. This is great opportunity to meet cast and crew and to exchange experiences about the work.

27. & 28. July 2018 – 7:30pm SUBIACO ARTS CENTRE 180 Hamersley Road, SUBIACO WA

Please note:

  • Latecomers will not be admitted until a suitable break during the performance.
  • Mobile telephones and electronic devices are to be turned off during the performance.
  • Cameras, video cameras and tape recorders will not be permitted without the consent of the promoter.

ABOUT | SYNAPSIS PRODUCTION | DIRECTOR’s NOTES | VIDEOS | PHOTOS

PERFORMING CHARACTERS – temporary ensemble

Mrs. Woodmillars

Being married to an alcoholic and have grown up with parents, who drank too much, she finds herself repeatedly caught up in situations that make her a victim as well as an abuser upon other terms. Starting to question her long forgotten ambitions she tries to get rid of feeling responsible for the fate of others.

Miss Good

Continually troubled with questioning her thoughts about human existence, trying to identify what it is that makes her feel so different, she drifts from positive to negative emotions about life as such and how to handle her surroundings. Worried by her imagination of a possible future and grieving about her past, she decides to embrace the moment fair-minded.

Mr. Love

All his life he had stayed with his mother. Now he feels left behind, alone and unloved, not knowing how to face daily hurdles. While dreaming of a person to spend time with, he tries to get independent and used to explore life from his own point of view.

ABOUT

Three characters soliloquise in a private little setting – although their worlds don’t seem to mix or match, they relate to each other somehow. And if it is only the problems they face, or the guilt they feel inside, or the anger they have towards their daily routine or their own inability to get a grip on their lives – they all struggle, but they get by, they manage to survive. They remember their childhood, revel in their past, start making accusations (addressing whom – the audience?) in trying to avoid any confrontation they could have with their present situation, their own self, right now. Because they know it would hurt too much, they would just fail, or they think they would, and they are simply afraid of taking a chance to change something, to experience something new, something they don’t know, something they cannot expect or foresee… They are afraid of any physical contact they could have… so they declare the whole space as their field of practice and start approaching the audience. Boundaries between performer and audience begin to merge: do the characters stay in their little corners, or do they come out and hold your hand, sit on your lap or lead you back into their ‘room’?

Three individuals are caught up in a world of signs, rules, torn between obeying, functioning and looking for their individuality. Driven by fear to face their own human nature, they tend to hold on to doctrines they were brought up with, remembering what it was like when they were a child. But in questioning their own human existence, they drift away into a trance-like state of surreality. Will they ever arrive in their lives? Will they ever experience what it is like to love and be loved? Will they ever be ready to go on the roller coaster of an emotional journey, without hiding behind something, a person, a drug, some sort of movement? Will they, in fact, will WE ever know what human existence is really about? Will we ever feel it, or will we let life go by unnoticed, because we rush about and miss the moment, not just once, but the whole time…

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SYNAPSIS 

THREE SECRETS addresses issues, which are buried under the surface of a functioning society that is culturally diverse (like the one we find here in WA). Thematically we react to the actuality of topics surrounding the perils of ‘social isolation’, its causes and issues that are buried under the surface of a contemporary cultural diverse society and how it affects people differently. Methodologically we work towards creating an immediate proximity with our audience members by especially addressing all their senses and particularly through physical touch. What’s YOUR secret, is what we ask them between the lines!

In THREE SECRETS three ordinary characters are given a voice to talk about their status in life and how they try to handle different situations they face while feeling caught up in their daily routines, having thoughts they would rather hide than share with others. They all feel a lack of love and understanding and a need to physically engage with someone. Their self-esteem has reached the bottom line for what they think is bearable but they are still willing to face their true nature, away from the standards they were brought up with and they had relied upon ever since.

The audience witnesses seven different situations in front of them, in which the performing characters talk about different issues they have, about their childhood, about general concerns they share with others, about a physical relationship they long for to experience.
THREE SECRETS in context to our ‘Existence Theatre practice’
The text suggests and asks for verbal and physical responses towards the performer, placing (hypothetical) questions that trigger spontaneous answers and reactions of audience members, often taken by surprise by speaking out themselves. To get such challenging reactions in the course of the performance is part of our practice. We break the traditional line between performer and audience through physical touch, performative involvement and a set/costumes that mirror everyday situations. Pretended and real space merge and overlap. This is where it gets possible to reach audience on a deeper, emotional level and provide them with a new sort of experience.

We take the concept of immersive theatre performance to another level by working with temporary ensembles that do not necessarily consist of professional actors/performers. We write our own pieces and choose particular people for the work, depending on the characters, written about. The ensemble virtually displays itself in all its vulnerability, extending own emotions to audiences through an intimate experience. We train the ensemble to draw on own abilities and skills, also to discover new qualities of their individuality to face an audience unconcealed, able to sense the audience’s different moods, so to know whom to involve and whom to leave to stay spectator. After their performance training in the name of our ‘Existence Theatre’ practice and method, the ensemble has not only the ability to work with an audience on a performance level but also benefits from using acquires skills in other areas for personal growth and presence.

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PRODUCTION

EXISTENCE THEATRE PRODUCTIONS

Based on a self-written performance text the temporary ensemble of the Existence Theatre under the guidance of bello benischauer initiates an experimental process to confront the individual (within the ensemble and in relation to an audience) unconcealed with one’s own self, the other and the in-between – inside a particular space, which gets transformed through the performance, highlighting its architectural setting.

In the realm of their EXISTENCE THEATRE practice (combining video, sound, performance art and creative writing), Australian/Austrian artists bello benischauer and elisabeth m eitelberger write abstract texts for their projects, which reflect on socio-/cultural/political issues and the individual’s dealing with it. Theatre-like but more performance-based they have established their own unique practice over recent years, breaking traditional layers of audience and stage, creating surprising situations, not in front but in the middle of their audience, which they touch physically at times.

Projects/productions take place internationally and in common and unusual locations.

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DIRECTOR’s NOTES

THREE SECRETS CONTEXT AND THOUGHTS

We can witness how people are driven by all sorts of judgements and prejudices, that especially resurface under particular political, social and/or cultural conditions and circumstances. Recent mass immigrations to Europe, same-sex marriage discussions lately in Europe as well as Australia, the MeToo movement(s) across the globe – all these issues and many more heat up discussions and opinions about “normality” and (cultural) standards, gender questions and social equality. Online forums and postings have become a welcome trend to avoid face to face conflicts and still to express opinions freely. Most of our present communication happens virtually. It seems that more and more people live with misunderstandings, fears and hidden emotions, which they can’t really act out, leading to mental health problems like depression.
In our work we see a growing need to touch people physically to really get their attention and affect them emotionally. We live in an overwhelming world, daily overcharged by information that we are left to deal with all alone.

We touch on banal daily concerns as well as going into a deeper philosophical debate, with which we  trigger sympathy and/or antipathy in the audience, exploring how one tends to judge others by their looks, behaviours, habits and accent. Assumptions are easily made, which performers trigger through certain bearings and statements, using behaviour patterns out of context to cause existing standards to rock. They  directly approach our audience, throwing questions at them. Boundaries between performer and audience begin to merge: do the characters stay in their little spaces, or do they come out and hold someone’s hand, sit on a person’s lap or going even further?

We are not coming with a solution. But the way we perform, we try to make the audience move closer together and rethink own behaviours towards themselves as well as others. We guide them through different emotional situations, in which they can reflect on own experiences they had in the past, how they felt themselves at some point and how they feel now in this particular moment.

We question if it is possible to overcome moral judgements and find ways to lead people back to a basic emotional understanding of the person next to them, becoming free of any acquired standards that we may carry with us.

In all our projects our special interest concerns the theme of transculturality and how to communicate a positive understanding of cultural diversity and how the individual’s impact counts towards creating a healthy society, in which we can face conflicts and misunderstandings between different cultures and individual people more open minded.

We pursue no hierarchic structure and display different characters of different cultural origin side by side. It demonstrates our aim to give cultural diverse people the same voice on purpose. It is a logical step for us in questioning the relevance and importance of equal status when talking about transcultural models and how to translate such thoughts into an artistic expression.

While producing a challenging work, our main objective is to create a positively touching experience for ensemble and audience alike.

In recent years we have spent a great deal in developing new ways of approaching the audience. Over the years we gradually began to draw on theatrical and performative techniques, as well as using voice and language(s) through a practice, started in recent years as ‘Existence Theatre’. AIRs, interventions in public space and Festival commissions all led to the development of something more specific. Interested in cultural diversity, we started to work with temporary ensembles (often people who encounter to work with performance for the first time in their life) and performed self-written texts in different languages. During a residency at PICA 2015 we took a deeper interest in questioning the line of theatrical illusion and reality. After that we continued to develop our practice overseas.

With THREE SECRETS we are going to face existing and new audiences in WA. We take the concept of immersive theatre into account, but really create individual, performative situations. Our audience encounters different characters, who put their feelings and emotions on display. We use the media of performance art to overstep the blurring line between the pretended and the real (in challenging but positive ways), and draw on theatrical elements as well. What we want to accomplish is to leave audience members deeply touched of raised issues and encouraged to talk to others and us (the artists behind the work) about what they saw, heard, experienced and how they felt.

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VIDEOS


PHOTOS by Shantanu & bello benischauer

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