Posted by Seanna van Helten
17. Apr, 2013
Of all the senses, contemporary media seems to privilege the visual. Film, television, the web, and even theatre are primarily feasts for the eyes. With SONG, Ranters Theatre offers an antidote to all this visual consumption, encouraging audiences instead to experience an immersive theatrical installation with their ears, nose, and fingertips.
SONG is also an attempt to replicate the sensory variety of the natural environment, by bringing the outdoors inside the genteel North Melbourne Town Hall. Created in collaboration with Brazilian artist Laura Lima, UK musician James Tyson, and a ‘perfumer’, George Kara, SONG is not a traditional theatre performance per se. Running for sixty minutes, audience members are permitted to choose their spot, move about, even come and go as they please.
There are no performers present and what text there is (by Melbourne-based playwright Raimondo Cortese) comes through as lyrics in Tyson’s cycle of songs pumped through numerous surround sound speakers. An additional soundscape of birdsong and other natural phenomena complements a shifting light display, and synthetic scents waft through the air. The theatrical element to this work comes through re-imagining an indoor, urban, and technologically constructed arena as an organic and limitless realm.
Nonetheless, although it seems pedantic to quibble over categorisation when discussing a multi-disciplinary work such as this, I’d say SONG is better pitched as an art installation than theatre. The first obstacle for an audience member (as witnessed on opening night) is to relinquish one’s expectations, in order to ease into the meditative, multi-sensory world of the piece. My advice: pull up a slice of Astroturf, lie down and listen.
SONG is playing at Arts House Town Hall, North Melbourne until April 21.
For more information and tickets visit artshouse.com.au.
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