Review: Zero Feet Away – Dorian Rix
A participant in the Queer Youth Theatre Workshops, Dorian Rix, was asked by Edwin Kemp Attrill to write a review on Zero Feet Away. This is what he wrote.
Earlier this year, I found myself privileged with the opportunity to attend workshops for an experimental piece of theatre. These workshops were intimate and fostered trust between the attendees, we generated a great deal of written material between us for the later performances. I was unfortunately unable to attend all of the second wave workshops, so when I attended the preview performance of Zero Feet Away and later the final performance, they barely resembled anything I was familiar with.
The venue was set up to have the audience sit around in a sort of C shape which ended at a wall forming an impromptu circle, the actors were in the centre of this circle and each sat behind a table. This table had computers which seem to be used to contribute responses and take responses down for use throughout the performance. There were two large projections, one on the wall where the audiences seating ended, the other on a wall behind a segment of an audience; the latter connected to a camera. When the camera was activated, actors moved around in front of it to add a dramatic dimension to stories being told. There was a guitar player who many members of the audience paid little attention too, this music however made a potent back drop that improved the performance.
The performance is a type of theatre I’ve never before experienced, by using mobile communication for interactivity the audience became part of the performance and made meaningful contributions. The audience, with this ability to interact, changed the depth of the performance making it as much theirs as the actors on stage. The feeling of being a part of that performance was surreal and defiant of the expectations put into standard theatre. The performance was experimental in nature, the medium of presentation should be investigated further. This method of theatre should be investigated further, I feel that its refinement could bring the advantages of both theatre and modern technology together to create otherwise unattainable results.
The stories that were presented on stage were very personal and powerful; the actors declared that the stories were generated as material throughout the workshops, from both earlier this year, though mostly the second wave ones. Each actor then presented the stories as if they were their own, giving plausible anonymity to those the stories belonged too. In the preview, I felt that the health messages involved with PEP and PREP detracted from the potency of the performance; though the last performance I went to did not suffer the same, seeming to more organically convey the message. I also respected the black-out-pause at the end to allow contemplation on the final note of the performance.
To conclude this type of theatre is in infancy stages but has a phenomenal amount of potential. I personally am impressed by the results, as both an early participant and observer of the result. Though aspects of the staging made it difficult for audiences to see the entire performance – the unfortunate placement of a projector – which became the subject of some comment afterward; the material presented was potent and presented in a way I feel no other theatre could have achieved. Audience participation in the piece allowed the audience to take control of how hard hitting the material was at any given moment which I feel contributed to the reduction of triggered audience members.