Friday, 7 October 2011

Site UnSeen, Melbourne Festival, Oct 6, 2011 ***

Site UnSeen ***
By Graham Pitts & Robin Szechtman
Lower Esplanade Carpark St. Kilda & Theatreworks, Oct 6 to 22, 2011
Melbourne International Arts Festival 

IN Site UnSeen, homelessness in our community is the elephant in the room that we - the privileged - cannot see.

In this community theatre event, that elephant literally follows us as we promenade through the streets of St. Kilda, peering like voyeurs into the lives of the homeless and marginalised, witnessing those sights that are often unseen.

This collaboration, developed by Graham Pitts and Robin Szechtman with those who experienced homelessness, has a social conscience and aims for social change and community education about issues surrounding social exclusion.

The first scenes in a fairground tent beside the Palais are awkward and unpolished, and the promenade through nearby streets and parks is a little slow and uneventful.

However, what follows at Theatreworks are intimate, challenging encounters that force us into the role of the homeless, coupled with an intense, effective multi-media installation based on verbatim interviews with formerly homeless persons.

We sit waiting for assistance, receive food vouchers, listen to frustrated people complain about lack of accommodation, then we prepare ourselves for a night sleeping outdoors under newspapers.

The performers, both artists and community members, play multiple characters and guide us through this grim, soulful, sometimes comical world.

 By its end we know more about homelessness and a little of how to help. Maybe we can share. 

Star rating: ***

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