Imagined Touch: the deafblind live art experience, does exactly what it says on the box: For an hour, deafblind artists Michelle Stevens and Heather Lawson tell stories about themselves, before giving the audience the experience of being deafblind themselves.
Speak too much about that experience – whether running, waiting for a bus, or the unexpected intimacy of touching strangers – and this paragraph quickly resembles a redacted government document. Sufficed to say, this was a remarkable hour.
Tim Humphrey and Madeleine Flynn’s sound design was beautiful. Mood-setting and mythic at the same time, it was a treat to listen to and the way it lead into Michelle’s piano playing at the end was a deft touch. That something so crucial to the work could be so generous speaks to the wonderful collaborative nature of the piece as a whole.
Another of those pieces comes courtesy of Set and Lighting Designer, Jenny Hector. The show opens against a red curtain, like something out of the Black Lodge in Twin Peaks. No backwards-talking, David Lynch ‘mind-bendingness’ here, however, simply Michelle seated behind Heather who stands closer to the audience.
While Jenny’s lighting is spare, the impression is one that garners attention before Heather moves to find Michelle and pull our focus even more. To be sure, Artistic Director, Jodee Mundy, has done a lovely job assembling her team, let alone crafting the work with Michelle and Heather.
To talk about the experience itself is to limit it, so instead I can really only talk about the impression it left. As a theatre artist, I have to say by the end what I felt was the touch of Dionysus, reinforcing the power of good theatre to tell stories.
The storytelling at work here is more than Michelle’s and Heather’s words – whether spoken live, projected, or pre-recorded by other voices. It’s in the empathy the piece gifts you, the glimpse of what is experienced living as deafblind. It’s storytelling that should be compulsory viewing for any humans.
Artistic Director: Jodee Mundy Performers, Collaborators & Consultants: Heather Lawson & Michelle Stevens Performers/Interpreters: Mark Sandon, Marc Ethan, Dennis Witcombe, Georgia Knight, David Pidd & Christopher Dunn Composition & Sound Design: Madeleine Flynn & Tim Humphrey Set, Light & Visual Design: Jenny Hector Social Communications & Haptics Consultant: Dennis Witcombe Producer: Stacey Baldwin Stage Manager: Jo Leishman
Imagined Touch: the deafblind live art experience
Arts House – North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 8 September 2016 – 6.00pm
Season: 7 – 11 September 2016
Image: Imagined Touch: the deafblind live art experience – photo by Bryony Jackson
Review: David Collins