Brighton Fringe 2011
‘An immersive video performance that combines autoteatro style instructions and film to place the audience at the centre of a narrative in the role of the main character’.
In the waiting room there are advertisements which come from a universe slightly different to our own. There is a parish newsletter with reports of a ‘Faruk encampment’ in the area, apparently a tribe who look similar to circus clowns. A television reports the (real) incident last year in which birds fell from the sky.
After a few minutes I am led into another room and fitted with headphones and video goggles. The goggles are not comfortable but I soon forget about this as I am transported into another world. What follows is an immersive experience which begins with a narrator’s voice telling me to follow all instructions. I am asked to reach out for an envelope that a character on screen is holding. I see ‘my hand’ enter the frame – then a real envelope is placed into my real hand. The voice instructs me to look to my left then to my right – and I see the environment I inhabit as shown to me by the goggles. Soon my brain begins to normalise the situation and I enter the reality of the video world.
Next I am physically moved from my chair and guided to a different space. I am always looked after and told what will happen so I am not frightened, but I have to trust. I feel vulnerable. What follows is a journey – I spend time with the Faruk people and am drawn into their world of primal emotion. I am at the centre of the action and I laught sometimes, but I’m not at all sure that I am their friend, which is unnerving as they drink and party hard – and all my senses are engaged as I am subjected to Faruk smells and tastes.
It’s a personal journey through a dangerous and anarchic world. We are in a time of cataclysmic change – but the Faruk remember that the birds have fallen from the sky before, at the last time of change, thousands of years ago. I suddenly feel very sad. My emotions have become raw, like theirs.
Before I leave their world, I am given a souvenir. After I have taken my goggles off, I feel like I an in possession of something from another planet or a dream – like Narnia, or something from the Northern Lights trilogy. I finger the souvenir as I stumble out into the daylight. It takes me a while to process the experience; for the rest of the day I feel that I have risen above my day to day existence and glimpsed something bigger and more universal.
This is something very special and unforgettable which will resonate for every audience. It combines technology with a potent narrative to conjure up a unique, compelling and emotionally charged experience. An outstanding piece of theatre.