Saturday 10 September 2016

The Curiosity Experiment - Melbourne Fringe Festival preview

If you prefer your theatrical experiences to be a bit on the creepy side, then you won't want to miss The Curiosity Experiment during this year's Melbourne Fringe Festival. The intimate audience of 13 - not a coincidence - are told a ghost story on Christmas Eve about a supernatural experience had by the Delamere family. The twist is, the entirety of the performance requires the entire audience be blindfolded. 

"The show draws on the inspiration of old fashion radio plays, using the power of storytelling to invite the audience to listen without the distraction of constant moving imagery and creating an almost visceral atmosphere via the auditory route of voice and sound," producer Nathan Schulz tells me. "Although imagery will be used it will be minimal and designed to enhance the story and hopefully impact the audience in such a way that their preconceptions of reality are suspended in a fun but emotionally provocative way." 

"It is performed entirely with the blindfolds on, with very low level light or sometime just darkness. There is a trick to the blindfolds which i would prefer not to spoil, but the audience are provoked "not to peek" beneath it or "through" it. This way they get to glimpse, listen, think and feel, having all their five sense engaged, creating an atmosphere of compelling mystery and spine-chilling suspense. Everyone is seated around a table and if needed, audience members can be removed with minimal fuss if they begin feeling uncomfortable."

As mentioned earlier, capping audiences at 13 was a deliberate choice for the show, and its unlucky reputation was the reason for it. "Ghost stories always create & involve a certain amount of superstition, whether its bad or good, and this too plays with the audience imagination. I found 13 to be a manageable number to control through out the performance as those who wish to come back to see it again may well get a different variation of the story the second time around. This way the show always has a bit of mystery about what "exactly" happened during performance." 

Schulz was inspired to create The Curiosity Experiment after performing in a ghost storytelling event at Brisbane's Anywhere Festival. "I became fascinated by the art of storytelling, especially in regards to the supernatural side of things as I always felt there was a lot of "mythology" to old fashion ghost stories. I'm also a true believer of things that go bump in the night and I believe that some ghost stories are really a warning to stay away from things you don't understand."

"Whilst researching the ghost stories we were going to use for this performance, I came across one called "The Leather Funnel" written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which dealt with the following theory from the book:

"That any object which has been intimately associated with a supreme outburst of human emotion, whether it be pain or joy, will retain a certain atmosphere or association, which it would be capable of communicating to a sensitive mind"

This idea and story fascinated me from a storytelling/theatre-creative point of view, along with another one that a friend planted in my head of taking a ghost story, blindfolding the audience and letting the written word, the audience's own imagination, some physical interaction and live sound-effects do the work, with a little twist at the end," Schulz says. "The great thing is, everyone involved with this production has brought a particular area of expertise and experience, including co-creator Audrey Cadzow and our co-producer Emily Edwards.

Apart from having their audiences leaving with their hearts racing. Schulz is hoping that they will also leave having been delighted by their own responses to the story. "I would like the audience to walk away feeling like they have tried something different and recognise they have been entertained by their own imagination, which also helped create the spooky world within this production. I think audiences are seeking out new experiences and I believe even traditional stage plays can be immersive and interactive, with a little imagination and thought, so hopefully that comes through with our work." 


If you had to name your child after a vegetable what would it be?

Which reality TV show would you most like to appear/compete on?

The most irritating habit I have is stubbornness.

What's a song that sums up for life?
"The Bare Necessities" - Jungle Book.

During Fringe, I really, really, really want to make a name for myself.

Venue: Wick Studios - Room 13, 23-25 Leslie St, Brunswick, 3056
eason: 15 - 20 September | Thurs - Tues 7pm, 9pm, Sat-Sun additional 5pm show
Length: 80 minutes

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc/Cheap Tuesday
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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