the lexicon

a writing portfolio by Alexandra Savvides

embrace: Guilt Frame

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embrace Guilt FrameIn the midst of a darkened room, two figures are enclosed in a gold frame. There is no dialogue between them, only movement. This certainly isn’t your standard night at the theatre. embrace: Guilt Frame is one in a series of performances which explore eight emotional states using structural elements from the ancient Indian Natyasastra, a discourse on artistic practice. With no traditional narrative as such, Guilt Frame is a delicate study of the interactions between two people. By Alexandra Savvides.

As the lights dim to encase the Richard Wherrett Studio in darkness, the only accompaniment to the blackened scene before you is a lone clicking sound. The lights come up to reveal a frame and two performers encapsulated in it, moving the upper part of their bodies at a snail’s pace. Though a short outing at forty minutes, Guilt Frame is a daring piece of work which challenges the audience’s perception of what contemporary theatre can be.

Performers Tess De Quincey and Peter Snow masterfully manipulate their bodies in a controlled manner. As the performance progresses, their interaction with each other becomes more and more touching. Snow’s gentle face breaks into a smile whilst looking towards the audience and you can’t help but smile back. Likewise, De Quincey’s arm reaches through the frame and straight into the fourth wall just asking to be touched.

Continuous clacking noises emerge from the speakers and rebound throughout the studio, resulting in a cacophonous audio experience. The wall-of-sound is a strong contrast against the methodical slowness of the performance. But what is Guilt Frame all about to the viewer with little to no knowledge of the performers’ intentions? I took it upon myself to casually eavesdrop upon conversations by fellow audience members after the lights had come up. Retorts of “I have no idea what that was all about” were common, whereas others were merely perplexed and sat in relative silence, contemplating what they had just witnessed.

Part of the joy of watching a performance such as this is to enjoy the moments where you don’t understand exactly what is being done, and let it touch you on a level you don’t quite expect. Certainly, the emotional impact of De Quincey and Snow’s understated performance is worth the journey alone. We spend much of our lives in front of boxes with images and sounds being pumped out towards us, and in a way Guilt Frame seems like a logical extension of this – except we have to do our own thinking in putting the pieces together.

After all this, if confusion overtakes you, make sure to stay for the after-show drinks where you can ask the performers about what on earth you just saw.



Written by lexstatic

March 17, 2008 at 6:45 am

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