Review: Inuit Time

Went along to see a play the other day, the method of which was reviewed a decade ago as an “insult to the conventions of theatre.”

It was pretty interesting.

The play was by Tao Wells, who has launched to some local notoriety for getting funded while unemployed to make a conceptual art installation of a PR company advocating unemployment, and was sort of directly related to that project.

The method was, he got some people to hang out and have conversations (with no guidance as to what they should be about), where they had to write down anything they said, starting each thing on a new line, and write down anything they thought felt or did in brackets.

Wells then took the transcripts, transcribed them, arranged them into what seemed like order; the play consisted of inviting the participants to come along and play themselves in any way they wanted, being given a script on the night, while also projecting the script onto the wall behind the stage so the audience could see the text.

The content of the text meandered, often incomprehensibly, talked about the project, and how odd the thing they were doing was, how unnatural the process was, and random stuff.

The experience was damn weird for the players – it wasn’t quite acting, or improvisation. Two of the participants weren’t there, so their scenes were just paged through on the projection.

The fact of the text was surreal. My brain was in a kind of overdrive. The level of engagement was oddly intense at times. Though it also fell over completely at times.

On reaching the end of the script, he paged back up to the top and they started going through again. The performance frayed even further. People stopped playing their roles, and started reading random lines. Much of the audience left. Some who remained starting participating in the text, taking the part of players. This seemed entirely natural.

Eventually Wells caved, acknowledging we had broken him (the handful who remained) and that he had intended to go until everyone left. (In fact, even one of the players, Campbell Walker, left midway through the second run through, without a word.)

Anyway. This felt like art should, as an event and an experience. Immersive, alive, challenging. The way I ended up engaging with the piece was fascinating; a suspension of thought, plus all sorts of meta-textual awareness, veering from hilarity to disbelief to other things. Unusual, and probably not for everyone.

Apparently it will be on again next Monday at Freds. May well be quite different.

4 Responses to “Review: Inuit Time”

  1.   Zanzibar
    October 20th, 2010 | 8:53 am

    Haha, I was actually at the debut performance all those years ago! The guy from the National Business Review (he’d written “an insult to the fundamentals of theatre”) actually stood up and had a massive rant once it was done and as expecting the rest of us to concur. Unfortunately we did not and he left, flabbergasted.

  2.   Helios
    October 20th, 2010 | 7:08 pm

    Holy shit, that sounds AWESOME. I would have loved to have started reading lines and participating as well… really interesting, and as you allude, probably completely different each time.
    Thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. October 21st, 2010 | 10:11 am

    […] and the performances (or lack of) worked well with the space.” Another reviewer from Undulating Ungulate wrote, “This felt like art should, as an event and an experience. Immersive, alive, […]

  4.   GCR
    October 23rd, 2010 | 2:32 pm

    There is another performance of this on Monday 25th! Come along!