Live From Paradise

Station House Opera are performing 'Live from Paradise' in an empty shop in Birmingham, a disused church in Colchester, and a former courtroom in London. Dizzied by the fluidity of their networked SFX which folded space and time, mixing the ancient media of theatre and new media space, I couldn't say if there was a story. There are relationships and scenes between 4 characters, played by 9 actors and 3 cameras at each venue, all connected and broadcast via a 2mb broadband connection.

Piano duets, an attempted seduction, some good jokes and a psychological observation, all take place between players, across physical space and, in the company's own words, "merge to become a fourth imaginary space."

It's is not an easy thing to write about.
The dialogue and performance style reminded me of some Hal Hartley shorts I saw a while back. But the scenario kept bringing me back to Jean Paul Satre's 'In Camera".

...Huis Clos (1944), 'hell is other people' was also a summary of his own philosophy about social relations. Sartre would continually remind such questioners that the characters of Huis Clos were all dead and the conversations were taking place for eternity, without sleep, in the afterlife. All life-choices had been made and the protagonists could exact no influence upon the world whatsoever. He would argue that the difference between humans living and dead should be glaringly obvious. (1)

'Live from Paridise' is 'In Camera' vs 'Big Brother'. Surveilled lives, trapped in recurring gestures from reality tv scenarios: seduction, rebuffal, torture, more sadism, submission, inspection, suspicion and paranoia: all without consequence in the real world.

The show ends with the cameras on the audiences at each venue and it's a strange sight. It's only at the end of the show that we are shown people who by comparison with the characters in the play actually/ arguably have agency in this real-time world. By comparison with the carefully masked and choreographed actors, the audiences, though politely appreciative, are messy un-scripted and un-formal and unpredictable, about to act out of the box. It seems ironic that a piece of theatre which locates itself simultaneously in venues over 200 miles apart and in virtual space using the latest communication infrastructure should convey such a strong sense of claustraphobia.

Live From Paradise: Saturday 21 May to Saturday 4 June at 7.30pm

(1)Essay Review: Jean-Paul Sartre's Huis Clos (In Camera )
by Patrick Hayes

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