‘Play within an iPad: Edinburgh’s smallest theatre’ Alma Mater featured in The Independent
Aug 2011 08

The Independent: Play within an iPad: Edinburgh’s smallest theatre By Emily Jupp

Monday, 8 August 2011 at 5:47 pm

In a small Georgian Church in Edinburgh is a cafe which hosts evening AA meetings and morning Tai-Chi sessions and the over-spill from the Sunday service. A few days ago, in the corner, a little white room appeared. It’s just large enough to accommodate a narrow 1-person bed, a stool and one audience member.

This is the smallest theatre venue in the Edinburgh festival. It is so small, there isn’t room for the usual superfluous business of theatre, like lighting equipment – or actors; the blank white walls alone must serve as the canvas.

The performance takes place on an iPad. The setting is the white room and the viewer is encouraged to move around the space as the camera moves around it – mirroring the view on the iPad. The effect is that characters and objects in the room are invisible to the naked eye, but can be revealed by looking through the window of the iPad screen.

The 20 minute film is an exploration of childhood, with a smattering of maternal love and teenage romance. The name Alma Mater (nourishing mother) is an appropriate title, as the mother turns into dough – to be baked into new life. Characters beckon the viewer, or motion them to sit on the bed or stool, but it remains ambiguous what role the audience-of-one plays in relation to the characters.

The overwhelming result is one of unnerving surrealism. As more characters populate the tiny space, the imagination is stretched to accommodate a world in which birds can fly out of the pages of a book, boyfriends can be kneaded into existence and a tiny white room can also be a vast woodland.

You leave with an unsettling feeling that there is more to everything than meets the eye. Quite a big achievement for a small empty space.

Venue number 157
Alma Mater
0131 225 7001

St George’s West, 58 Shandwick Place, Edinburgh EH2 4RT

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