‘Proximity’ is a Fringe Festival World First – a micro festival within the festival. For three weeks, showed every Sunday until the 19th February. With groups of 12-minute performances at 3.00 pm, 4.00 pm and 5.00 pm. This unique approach was co-curated by James Berlyn and Sarah Rowbottam, and was seen in the Blue Room Theatre, 53 James Street, Northbridge.
Sweetlife (James Berlyn)
In a dark room, set up as though a séance was about to take place, I was asked to take a seat – a tiny stool – and the first task was to decide which colour, black or white? From then on, in the most pleasant and subtle way, I had to give my opinion on several situations related to the ‘Sweetlife’.
‘Did I have a sweeltlife?’
‘If the world was to end tomorrow, what would I do today?’
We played games for lollies, but plugged to a pulse meter to see if my answers were true, I didn’t do too well.
A searching meeting that made one reconsider their place in society. A fun and most satisfying experience.
Glory Hole Beard (Jackson Eaton) For the uninitiated, a ‘Glory Hole’ is a hole in the wall of a public toilet through which a male member is placed, in order that fellatio can take place with an unknown person at the other side.
The voice from the other side of the toilet wall asked if I would like to see his pride and joy. Thankfully the hole in the wall was at chin height, this permitted the stranger at the other side to place his secondary symbol of masculinity (his beard) through the hole.
I won’t go into too much detail, but using the same script that a real glory hole user might employ, such as ‘is it long enough?’ the man at the other side seduced the viewer to take place in his fantasies.
It was a clever idea, but as a bearded heterosexual male, I wasn’t in the slightest interested in fondling his beard. What this segment did do, was to give one the experience of what a real glory hole ‘trick’ would be like. Disturbing, strange but unique.
Mobile Moments (Sarah Nelson)
On the top level of the Cultural Centre open space, I was helped into the miniature carriage at the front of a trike by my attractive driver. With a camera capturing my every word I was pedalled around the art gallery, library and museum open space for quarter of an hour. In the warmth of the sun and the beautiful environment it was easy to discuss even one’s most private thoughts with the driver. There was always a caring listening ear and even on the odd occasion a brief glimpse of her life too.
A most pleasant interlude that helped you totally relax in wonderful company. Totally delightful.
The Union (Renae Coles)
A short tap on the door and I was invited into the Union Official’s office. The smartly dressed counsellor introduced herself as Scarlett Nukey – she confessed that this was a pseudonym, and she felt that it would make me feel more at ease if I too used a false name. I chose Scottie Scumbucket.
Scarlett explained the limitations of the Union in helping me, and I was asked what my problem.
I explained that the janitor at work insisted upon putting the toilet roll on the holder the wrong way around, and that it caused me great distress. Scarlett was most sympathetic and made notes. She thought that this was probably due to the fact that the janitor was well down the appreciation list for employees and that this was his only way of retaliation at the toilet users.
Rather than head on confrontation Scarlett composed a song in the style of anarchic English 70s punk group, ‘Crass’ and despite her reserved appearance sang it to me in full punk style. She asked me to sing it to the janitor to see if it would help appease the situation.
Fully reassured, I was handed an official receipt for my visit, noting all the points. Scarlett advised me that the Union would be in touch in the near future to give an opinion as to whether they would be taking up my case.
For any one who has had to report a grievance, this was a breath of fresh air. If only the real counsellors could be so inventive, understanding and ‘with it’. A reassuring few minutes.
The provocative situations were set up by Kelli McCluskey and the complex timetable coordinated by Tom Cramond and stage managed by Mary Wolfla. This series was a wonderful idea. With each section being on a one-to-one basis there was nowhere to turn, it was you versus the challenger.
Mainly it was very good fun, thought provoking and even life changing, however occasionally the situation fell flat, but even then it was still interesting in the novel approach.
HIVE (Her Infinite Variety Ensemble) presents
By April De Angelis, by arrangement with Origin Theatrical on behalf of Samuel French, Ltd.
Directed by Helen Doig
Starring Rhoda Lopez as Nell Gwyn and Angelique Malcolm as Mary Betterton, Claire Munday as Doll Common, Tiffany Barton as Elizabeth Farley and Summer Williams as Rebecca Marshall