Festival greetings!!! What an amazing week!

„trackings“ and „private games“ received loads of positive feedback in the „Underground City 21 Vienna“ festival – great!!!

There were a lot of positive reactions to “trackings”, and it seems that I managed to engage the audience in my small-scale piece & story in the big, big performance space of Theater Nestroyhof Hamakom. I personally received highly approving comments about my “engaging presence” as performer – a thing (some people might call it charisma?) that is definitely needed to support one’s solo piece, especially in such big performance spaces!! I have received similar feedback throughout my career in theatre and performance, and yet I am overwhelmed by those comments every time. I will discuss this phenomenon of “presence” or “charisma” in a separate blog post a bit later.

I am especially delighted about the outcome of “private games” which is a twisted form of blind-dating game (I won’t reveal more about the concept here, in case you will take part in it at some point in the future!;-)). Two Estonian-speaking(!) persons interested in music therapy(!) happened to meet each other; one couple enjoyed each other’s company so much that they came late to the next festival event (but hopefully not too late:-), and one of the café owners on Praterstrasse was *completely* amazed by the fact that his small café was chosen to play a part in this project.

I dare to claim that this performance/event was truly audience-oriented [when compared to the “softcore” audience-oriented projects in which audience are offered the (pseudo-)chance to “engage” by choosing either the “Option A” or “Option B”]; the audience had to engage spontaneously and make their own choices as active participants of the event which may have had effects on the lives of those participants beyond the context/frame of the artistic event.

I will discuss the idea of “participation” in art projects more in a separate blog post.

This mode of creating art events in which the performers function more as “stimulators” than as “look-at-me-artists”, is definitely a mode that I want to develop and experiment on more in the future!!

I want to thank Thomas J. Jelinek, Kazuko Kurosaki, Luzie Stransky, Lea Titz, Hyo, Esther Csapo, and Andreas Wiesbauer for their conceptual and artistic input in these projects. THANKS.

I also want to thank all the spectators and partakers!!!

Still a few words on the Theater Nestroyhof Hamakom cellar:

The huge (perhaps 800 square meters?) cellar space of the Theatre Nestroyhof Hamakom has something very special, amazing, overwhelming, about its atmosphere; red tile walls, an awkward wall painting that looks something like a Freemason altarpiece (!), the asymmetrical floor plan with many tiny rooms and corners, a simultaneous feeling of “past glory” and present distraction; the space is homely and somehow sinister at the same time. It vaguely reminds me of the magnificent “SHUNT VAULTS”-club in London, at London Bridge Station.

“trackings” got its premiere in an old boiler room in London, with its tile walls and “cold beauty”. From the very first I saw the Nestroyhof Hamakom cellar space onwards, I was sure that the space would suit to “trackings”; the cellar reminded me of the boiler room in London.

All the previous “trackings” performance spaces have been small, intimate, feeding into the rather intimate interactive situations between the performer and the spectators. But in the Hamakom cellar, I really had to work both physically (choreography) as well as performatively (e g nuances of the speech) to create the bond with the audience, to create a feeling of intimacy. At the Festival Opening, everything worked out really well; the spectators were many and they positioned themselves at all sides of the performance area. In the second performance in the next evening, however, there were far fewer spectators and most of them wanted to stay on one side, like in a theatre parterre. It was really difficult to sense the reactions of the audience from far away, as well as to go and “harrass” them. Well, every night is different!! 🙂 And now I know that I am able to follow through with the piece also in difficult circumstances.

Thanks for reading this far! I did’t plan to write a blog text this long, but it just happened somehow.

Summa summarum: I really, really enjoyed being part of the Underground City 21 Vienna -festival!!! “trackings” and “private games” are on the right track to… to… who knows?  🙂

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About Joonas Lahtinen

Joonas Lahtinen (* 1984, FIN/A) is a performance artist, director and researcher who lives and works in Vienna and Helsinki. His performances are often site-specific and have a strong installational character. In his works, he explores the politics of space and of the everyday from perspectives that are both humorous and disturbing. Joonas has studied Performance at Queen Mary, University of London and he is writing a PhD thesis about the problematic of “emancipatory” participative art at the University of Helsinki. Since 1995, he has performed in various Live Art, theatre and TV productions both in Finland and abroad.
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