REVIEW: The Audience Is Present by Belinda Anderson-Hunt

On the Friday the 14th of October ‘The Audience is Present’ a new work by performance artist Belinda Anderson-Hunt was presented as part of Verge festival at the Cellar Theatre. In ‘The Artist is Present’, Marina Abramović’s game changing work of performance art, Abramović invited spectators to sit opposite her for 5 minutes or less with her full attention and direct eye contact, leaving them to sit comfortably or uncomfortably in her gaze.

Similarly in Anderson-Hunt’s work ‘The Audience Is Present’ the audience is shifted from their position as safe spectator and left feeling exposed. When I arrive at the Cellar Theatre we are instructed to turn off our phones and led into a darkened space. There Anderson-Hunt performs a series of stretches. Then one by one she takes spectators by hand and leads them into a second space with two seating banks opposite to each other. Anderson-Hunt leads each person to a seat one by one and then leaves.

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The spectators are left for 30 minutes and the results are intriguing. Each audience member is left to sit uncomfortably in each others presence. Some refrain from direct eye contact, preferring to stare directly at their shoes. The eyes of a whole seating bank is intrusive, some audience members embrace the eye contact with welcome while other eyes dart away from the intimacy. The duration of the work is certainly what made it so powerful, as noone is quite sure how long the piece will go for. Without phones, without distractions and without any indicator of time, there is nothing left to distract us but the fact that we are in presence of other people. How often are we left to socialise without any of the social cruxes we cling to: a drink, a joke, polite banter, a phone?

A comfortable silence, is often thought of as something that can only be achieved with a true friend. Surrounded by this wall of strangers, constrained to silence, I felt that we were forced into such a friendship. No talking, no excuses, no laughing, the audience was only able to drink each other in. The long duration led, me at least, to take in every detail of the audience, to construct their personalities by only what I could see. We so often stalk each other online. Hours are spent staring at someones pictures, making guesses at who they truly are, but in civilised society we are never allowed to just stare, to purely take someone in without fear of being labeled a creep.

By the end of the performance I felt like I knew a little about each person; the one who adverts their gaze; the one who smiles; the performer; the one who shifts in their skin. A study conducted in 1989 by Kellerman, Lewis, and Laird posited that with enough direct eye contact anyone can fall in love. It was this strange thought that lingered in my mind, as I walked out of the performance and heard these people’s voices for the first time. The experience was one of isolation and intimacy, and one I was glad to have caught.

I’m excited to see what Belinda Anderson-Hunt comes up with next.

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Layover

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On the 22nd and 23rd of October the short play I wrote and directed, ‘Layover’, was showcased as part of the Short Play and Film Night at UTS.

The play followed travellers Carol and Jarod who meet while on layover in Malaysia. I will leave the rest to the imagination, but I was very happy with the outcome. Amazing performances were made by Charlie Carpenter and Rhiona-Jade Armont. Huge thanks to Tom Crotty, Sophie Peppernell and Michael Karagiannakis for their hilarious guest appearances and thanks to the Backstage Theatre and Film Society for having short play nights.

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Luke Lloyd Alienoid @ ATYP

Luke Llyod Alienoid

Luke Llyod isn’t like other boys at school but luckily he knows exactly why he doesn’t fit in: he’s half alien. Being half alien comes with many benefits: he can talk to animals and can become invisible. But when the school ‘fathers vs students game’ comes up, the school bully insists on meeting Llyod’s father. However, contacting aliens is never easy.

Luke Llyod is a great twist on classic story of a boy who is struggling to fit in. While the story is definitely geared to younger audiences, it’s a production that anyone can take something away from. The acting is great, especially from such a young cast and stand out performances are made by the Bully and Luke Llyod. The production uses three projectors that are seamlessly integrated, for a production that feels entirely modern in both themes and technology. I recommend it.

Tickets
Full: $20
Earlybird tickets: $15

Times
Wed-Sat 7:00pm
Sun: 5:00pm
Matinee: Wed and Fri 11:30am

Bookings
atyp.com.au or 02 9270 2400

Venue
ATYP Studio 1 – The Whair
Pier 4/5 Hickson Road

March Opportunities

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There are lots of opportunities for emerging writers and theatre makers at the moment. Playwriting Australia has made a callout for Dramaturgy Interns. These interns will recieve ‘access to training and mentoring by industry professionals, and get to develop their practical skills in script assessment and explore the process of giving dramaturgical feedback.’

The internship is available to Sydney and Melbourne based playwrights, directors or dramaturgs. Applications close Monday the 24th of March, 5pm.

Additionally, there has been a call out for applications for the Monash Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing. The award is open to emerging writers enrolled in either an undergraduate or honours degree. For the first year ever, the award is open to both students from Australia and New Zealand.

First prize is $4000. The highest placed student from Monash University will receive $1000. Both winners will be published in Verge, Monash University’s student publication. Entries have to be 1500–3000 words. Applications close Thursday the 17th of April.

BITE ME

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My monologue ‘Facon’ is being performed in an amazing show called ‘Bite Me’. There are only four more chances for you to see it! Make sure you get down to Australian Theatre for Young People before it’s gone forever!

Check out some of the great reviews for Bite Me:

…”this is a production that fascinates and impresses. It is thoroughly original.” Suzy Goes See

…”is a delightful picaresque performance centring on food.” Australian Stage

…”a flowing, varied and physically interesting showcase for the Australian Theatre for Young People’s fourth instalment of its Voices Project. It is the best to date.” Jason Blake, The Sydney Morning Herald

…”Bite Me brings quite a lot to the table.” Lloyd Bradford-Sykes, The Daily Review

It’s a great show that has a huge team of creatives behind it. Support Australian writing and young people in theatre!

To buy tickets just click here.

ATYP Fresh Ink National Studio

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How’s the serenity?

Three weeks ago I went away to the ATYP National Studio. I met talented people, took in beautiful scenery and churned out some writing I’m pretty stoked about. I could have not generated the work that I did without the unique environment that the National Studio provided.

I want to say a huge thank you for Australian Theatre for Young People for having programs like this. It was an incredible learning experience.

If you are a young writer I encourage you to apply for the National Studio. I think the call-out will be next year but you can be sure to know by liking/following/stalking Fresh Ink on facebook, twitter and checking the website.

If you are a philanthropist who is wanting to donate to something artsy, I definitely encourage you to support the Fresh Ink program.

Great things have come out of the program such as The Language of Love: a film by young writer Kim Ho. It has reached 489,634 views (at the time of writing) and attracted global attention.

Art and About Sydney – Opening Night

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The opening of Art and About Sydney was celebrated at Martin Place earlier tonight. The celebration, coined as Friday Night Live, was an evening of cocktails, music and film that set the tone for what is sure to be an inspiring and exciting festival. The event started with a screening of The Arrival by Shaun Tan with a live performance of the score by percussionist Ben Walsh and the 10-piece Orkestra of the Underground. Next The Break filled the audience with trippy space age rock from their new album, Space Farm. Delicious cocktails were on offer throughout the night alongside quirky food trucks. 

Cocktail

For the night owls the evening was just beginning. Attendees could head to the Justice and Police Museum for part one of Penguin Plays Rough at City of Shadows exhibition. This exhibition/performance/literary hybrid brings together ten writers, comedians, playwrights and other wordsmiths to create a story, over several months, in response to a photo chosen from the Police Forensic Archive.

For those looking for a chilled evening Custom’s House library offered the solution: relaxed music, readings and performance. Other recommendations for the night included seeing the Artists’ Market at the State Library of NSW or taking in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Australian Museum.

Art and About Sydney boasts an eclectic and intriguing mix of artworks and performances that will bring the city to life from the 20th of September to the 20th of October. Have a look at the full spread of events and exhibitions here. In the next weeks I will be trying to see and review as much of the festival as possible! Happy festivaling!