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