A deep diving, personal experience
By Joana Simmons
Every once in a while, I come across a piece of art that makes the hairs on my neck stand up and leaves me gobsmacked about how I will be able to put the experience into words. This world premiere of LONE created by The Rabble and St Martins Youth Arts Centre and presented by Arts House is such a piece of art. What they have created is a beautiful and delicate performance designed to be experienced alone. This make us slightly uncomfortable, it leaves us without cues from other audience members of how to react whilst we dive in to explore loneliness through childhood and adulthood. It’s bold, disruptive and challenging.
We are given a number on our shirts as a ticket, and go one by one into a space where there is a booth corresponding to our numbers. We are instructed to don headphones and when the lights dim, enter the booths. To make this project the children aged 8 – 11 were asked to imagine a room designed for the audience to inhabit alone. There are moments where I feel both distant like an onlooker and completely involved, as the small child of whom I was in the company gave me a personal glimpse into their privately constructed world: one that was a combination of heart-warming, chilling and startling moods.
Seeing the pure innocence of their small hands and chests rising and falling as they breathed made me feel so fortunate to experience such a unique moment. It had me on the edge of my seat, leaning in, or pressed up against the wall, almost in fright. Many moments across the 30-minute performance made me think of myself when I was that small, and the way I would pass the time alone.
The child whose world I stepped into had incredibly big eyes, which locked with mine fearlessly on more than one occasion. At the end, I was left in the dark, alone, which bought a range of emotions. The tone of the other adults as they stepped out of their booths was noticeably different to when we stepped in and the children were waiting outside to receive our applause.
Creators Emma Valente and Kate Davis of The Rabble have made a truly memorable and challenging piece of art. The Rabble are “a group of visionary women who have consistently produced bold, provocative and visually stunning theatrical experiences and have forged an unrivalled reputation for producing experimental theatre of the highest quality.” With LONE, they have fulfilled this mission. The set and costume by Kate Davis was effective with each booth forming its own little structure, and this was complemented by lighting and sound design by Emma Valente. The soundtrack was eerie and highly effective, making all sides of this production high quality.
LONE is not for the audience member who likes to sit back, see tricks and hear voice acrobatics. It is for the audience member who yearns for something to sink their teeth into, chew over, gristle and all, and digest over a period of time. It is remarkable how sometimes as adults we underestimate children and this performance show us they have so much to teach us. LONE is challenging, barrier breaking and memorable. No need to call a friend, go by yourself – alone.
LONE is being performed at Arts House, North Melbourne until 17 June. Tickets can be purchased online and by calling the box office on 03 9322 3720.
Photograph: Bryony Jackson