Experiments
    in Theatre and Cinema

ETC are a series of playful provocations to explore and expand the possibilities of theatre and cinema, audience and performer.

They can be performed as ends in themselves or applied to larger cinematic or theatrical works.

 

Tell Me What to Do_ (2016/2021)

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Creator: Mark Bolotin

• The audience sits down on wooden white chairs in an auditorium.

• On the screen, two performers are projected sitting on similar white chairs, life-size. 

• A spotlight comes up on a mic in front of the screen.

• Eventually, words come up on the screen: “Tell Me What to Do”.

• Audience members are invited to come up and give instructions to the performers on the screen (who are in fact being live-filmed near-by).

• The performers must do everything they are told unless it involves any serious personal danger or any form of psychological/physical abuse. 

• If the audience does nothing, then the performers do nothing.

NOTES

• This concept can be developed further. For eg. the two performers could have a background story; they can refuse to take orders at a certain stage; certain audience members can be live-sampled onto the screen with the performers; the performers can emerge from the screen to interact in the flesh with the audience etc etc.

• A piece that examines the idea of control, passivity, authority, resistance.

Cut!_ (2016)

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Creator: Mark Bolotin

• A film begins  [the ocean?]

• A pair of scissors hangs on a rope in front of the screen.

• The audience is invited one at a time to take the scissors and cut a part of the screen away, a piece big or small.

• Each audience member can keep the piece of the screen/the ocean that they cut off.

• The film ends when there is no screen/no ocean left.

NOTES:

• Projection should not play in the areas that are cut away (live projection-mapping).

• Explores the physicality of cinema vs its traditional ephemerality.

• Tribute to Yoko Ono's "Cut Piece" (1964).

• Alternative Version: a projected performer on the screen cuts away the fourth wall. As she/he does this a real performer cuts away the actual screen.

Close Your Eyes_ (2021)

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Creator: Mark Bolotin

• A film begins.

• Words come up on the screen: “Close your eyes. Do not open them... even  slightly... until the end of the film.”

• The film (with music, dialogue, soundscape) plays as the audience closes their eyes. Preferably, the film gets more eventful as it progresses, increasing the temptation of the audience to defy the instruction.

• Meanwhile, words appear on the screen: “If you read this message, silently stand up, turn around and stare at the face of the person behind you. Do not make a sound.”

• The film continues until all people are standing, facing away from the screen and staring at another audience member.

 

NOTES:

• A test of an audience's self-control, obedience and the interplay of the visual vs the aural.

• An anti-film, partly inspired by Derek Jarman's "Blue".

Revolting Tomatoes_(2017)

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Creator: Mark Bolotin

•The audience are given a small bucket of rotten tomatoes each.

• On the screen a film begins to play, back-projected. [Perhaps of people talking about controversial current views?]

• Audience members can choose when/if to throw their tomatoes at the screen.

• As more tomatoes cover the screen, the words become quieter and more muffled.

• The audience can risk restoring the volume by wiping away the screen but will enter the 'line of fire'.

• The performance ends when the screen is no longer visible and the audio is silent or when the audience runs out of tomatoes.

NOTES:

• Examines dissent, criticism and censorship.

• Could also be tied in to dialogue about over-consumption, (food waste)?

• The projected performer can also be live-filmed and react every time a tomato is thrown, for eg. flinching or yelping.

Head_(2021)

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Creator: Mark Bolotin

• A live performer's head pokes through the screen. The rest of their body and their environment is projected.

• This can be also done for multiple performers/actors.

NOTES:

Opportunities to explore a true (hybrid) between theatre and cinema performance.

• Partially inspired by Beckett's "Happy Days".

• Alternative version (more advanced): audience members can be filmed live to provide the bodies or heads to the projected performer - a cinematic 'Exquisite Corpse'.

Burn Screen Burn_(2020)

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Creator: Mark Bolotin

• A projector is setup and a film starts to play [of  fire burning? Of a forest? etc.]

• Shortly after, the actual screen is set on fire and begins to burn.

• The film ends when the screen is completely burnt.

NOTES:

• Alternative 1: Begin with a black screen.  As the actual fire begins, the burning screen is filmed live and projected back onto itself. ie. The more the screen is destroyed, the more visual content is created.

• Alternative 2: Use two screens. The back one has a projection of the ocean/ a forest etc. that is slowly revealed as the front one burns.

Mirrors (2016)

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Creator: Mark Bolotin

• A projector is pivoted so that its projection is parallel to the screen (ie. not hitting the screen but a side wall).

• The audience are given circular hand mirrors.

• The MC instructs the audience that they need to collaborate to get the projection to hit the main screen without moving the projector. ie. the audience need to angle their individual mirrors, and reflect the beam between each other in a chain until the projection finally hits the screen. 

NOTES:

• The audience must work for their entertainment. And they must collaborate, "passing" the projection light between each other.

• Alternative version: A faceless person is projected onto the screen by a second back-projector. The audience must use hand mirrors to project the face, originating from the front projector which is pivoted away from the screen. When the face is projected in the right place (on the shoulders of the faceless person) it begins to speak.

Reflection (2021)

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Creator: Mark Bolotin

• The audience is seated in an auditorium. 

• The performance begins in darkness, then the house lights go very slowly on.

• On the screen, the audience begins to see seated people. They realise it is themselves, being filmed live. 

• What will the audience do? Will they remain seated? Will they pose for the screen?  Will they break out of their conformity/passivity and act?

• The sound of the auditorium is also played back live through high-sensitivity contact mics throughout the space.

• Run the  event for long enough for there to be interesting consequences – boredom/anger/creativity/restlessness/silliness/stillness. Perhaps the audience will even begin to leave if they are tired of themselves. Then fade out the house lights slowly.

NOTES:

•  This performance is about the abolition of the performer/entertainer. The audience is the centre of attention. The audience entertains itself.

• Also reference to Nam June Paik’s "TV Buddha"/self- enlightenment.

• Alternative version: the audience in the auditorium sits watching a live telecast of an audience in another location, perhaps on the other side of the world. They can also converse with each other.

No Input_ (2016)

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Creator: Mark Bolotin

• A projector is setup and a film starts to play. (Perhaps of a giant eye blinking?)

• Shortly after, the screen goes blue and the words “No input detected” come on, in the same format as traditional no-input projector messages.

• House lights come on and the MC scrambles to try and fix things.

• Shortly after,  s/he announces "Well this is embarrassing” . And the words "Well this is embarrassing” come on the blue screen.

• Followed by  "Fix me. Please. I need your input."

• The audience is challenged to restore the film by whatever means they can.

NOTES:

• A more advanced version of this would tamper with the actual projector.

• 'Most people have no idea how the technology they use or enjoy actually works. A lightbulb. A radio. Let alone a digital projector.'

Busker_ (2021)

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Creator: Mark Bolotin

• A busker appears on the screen (can be live filmed on the street or set-up in a studio). She/he is motionless.

• The MC tells the audience that they can come up, one at a time, and touch the screen. While their hand is on the busker, the busker will play.

• Each minute of playing costs $1. As soon as the audience member removes their hand, the busker stops.

• When the audience member has had enough, the MC provides a EFTPOS pad to immediately take the payment.

NOTES:

Explores new ways to pay artists.

• Can be developed further to explore new forms of payment for art/theatre. Or taken to surreal places - pay per note? pay per word?

The Projectionist_(2021)

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Creator: Mark Bolotin

• The audience sits in front of a blank screen.

• A projectionist comes in and begins setting up a large film projector (16m or 35mm) in front of the screen, carefully, ceremoniously.

• When the film projector is ready, the projectionist switches it on, sending the light directly at the audience.

• The projectionist bows and leaves.

NOTES:

• The act of projection becomes the performance, rather than the contents of the projection.

• The performance also shines a light on the hidden and dying art-form (and dying profession) of the film projectionist.

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