BBC: An audience of one gets intimate at Edinburgh Fringe by Hannah Livingston
10 August 2011
F&G: We are glad to be featured here with our friend and colleague Adrian Howells.
But this year a raft of Edinburgh Fringe shows have been deliberately designed for such intimacy and immersion.
In The Pleasure of Being: Washing, Feeding, Holding the sole audience member is literally immersed.
The show takes place in a hotel room, where after reading through the guidelines, the audience member is invited to disrobe.
They are then washed, held and fed by Adrian Howells, a resident artist at The Arches in Glasgow.
Mr Howells said: “I think that we live in very unloving, brutal and brutalising times and we need to learn to be more tender. We all crave intimacy, it comes with being a human being.
“I don’t think it’s therapy, I think it’s art. You probably wouldn’t describe it as a piece of theatre or a performance, it’s an experience.
“I’m very cognisant of the ethical issues around it and my responsibilities as a performer.”
The Scotsman’s Chitra Ramashwarmy has taken part in the experience.
Speaking about this kind of immersive art, she said: “I do think it raises some serious ethical questions.
“For example, is it OK to hand over £12.50 – that’s what the show costs – and then go and have this experience then at the end be quite upset and traumatised by it?
“Then at the end of it, you’re back out on the street again, something profound might have happened to you and you’ve kind of got nowhere to go with it.
“I think that’s potentially an issue and that’s what happens when art and therapy start to intermingle and it’s quite dangerous territory. It’s also what makes it interesting though.”
In another single audience member show, the interaction is more virtual than physical.
Alma Mater uses technology to let the audience see life through the eyes of a little girl.
The audience is given an iPad and pointed to the front door of a specially-constructed room inside a large wooden box.
Line up the ipad with the door and the spartan, completely white, bedroom of a child comes to life as the viewer traces events happening in the video.
It has been constructed from scratch by Glasgow-based performance group Fish and Game.
Eilidh MacAskill, one half of the partnership, said: “We wanted to see what it would be like to have this intimate experience for one person, but without any live performers.
“It becomes immersive for the people who are there, although as soon as you look away you realise you’re just in this constructed box with a piece of technology.”