Monday, 18 November 2019

The Audition review

Working with emerging artists who were also asylum seekers and immigrants, Outer Urban Projects have brought together a mix of writers and actors to explore the process of auditioning through two different lenses. One of these being for performance roles and investigating the power plays that are present between an actor, director and audience, and the other being asylum seekers auditioning to be permitted to live in this country. 

The Audition includes work from seven theatre writers (Christos Tsiolkas, Melissa Reeves, Milad Norouzi, Patricia Cornelius, Sahra Davoudi, Tes Lyssiotis and Wahibe Moussa) that examine the commonalities of these auditions. While not all of these are as powerful or engrossing as they could be due to writing and/or performances, each story highlights various issues pertaining to asylum seekers and immigrants. In one, an Iranian woman (Sahra Davoudi) is reading for the role of Hecuba from Euripides’ The Trojan Women only to have the Australian director (Peter Paltos) force his western interpretation of what a victim should look and act like. Later, these two actors meet again as an immigration officer and an asylum seeker, where Davoudi must once more pass an audition, this time to prove herself to be in need of asylum.

Paltos delivers an impressive turn as both these characters. As the director, he exudes arrogance and a patronising tone towards the actor but in a way that makes him feel like he’s open to suggestions and listening to what she is saying. As the immigration official, he is cold and by-the-book but yet, compassionate and willing to help. Davoudi does well in expressing these womens’ determination and resilience as well as their vulnerability and potential abandonment of their sense of self in order to be accepted in both scenarios. 

The direction by Irine Vela (Outer Urban Projects artistic director) ensures that regardless of whose story is being told, we remain aware of all the characters. She establishes a clear purpose for every movement and scene, so when Mary Siaternos’ character is sitting by the grave of a loved one or Milad Norouzi’s character holds on to a basketball, we understand exactly what they are feeling and what this symbolises.

The music by Vahideh Eisaei on the kanun, a classical Iranian instrument, further heightens these moments and is a great soundscape to signify where these people have come from and the sacrifices that have been made to get to where they are and what sacrifices need to be made to get to where they want to be.

The Audition asks us to consider the stories we seek on stage and to question how these are presented to us. More importantly however, it asks us to contemplate our own acceptance and recognition of asylum seekers and immigrants and the role we play in this political battle on who we allow to enter and live in our country.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St. Carlton 
Season: until 24 November | Thurs - Sat 7:30pm, Sun 4:00pm,Wed 11am and 6:30pm 
Tickets: $30 Full | $20 Conc 
Bookings: La Mama Theatre 

Photo Credit: Darren Gill

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