Voicebox: The immersive theatre experience returns to Geelong

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Voicebox: The immersive theatre experience returns to Geelong

What is it that draws you into a play? The actors? The stage set up? More likely it’s the ability for the overall package to entice you into the story and make you feel like you’re walking hand-in-hand with the characters as they take each step. Voicebox’s I Am is a Geelong production that follows this concept, but takes it to the next level. As quite realistically, you do walk alongside the actors as you make your way through each room (or scene) of the play.

“This performance isn’t something you’d traditionally see at theatres in Geelong – we’re not sitting in seats and sitting there for the whole performance, we’re actually moving the audience around. And I think that’s what sets it apart from everything on offer in Geelong,” Voicebox director Liam Erck says.

“We have a central character called the tour guide and he is with the audience for the whole performance and helps them move around the space, provides background story on some scenes and with some scenes he’ll even get them to participate. There’s sections of the performance where the performers walk between the audience to get to scenes as well.”

Last year’s Voicebox performance, in which Erck was an actor, saw the group of artists take over the Deakin University project space. This time around, the collective have been allowed a whole building and the opportunities it instilled creatively were endless.

“We wanted to use all the spaces and we thought how can we tell a story as we move through all these different rooms? And we came up with the idea of a brain and each room moves into a different section of the brain. Then we sort of came up with the idea of applying a specific character to it until we came to the life and work of Sylvia Plath,” Erck says.

“We focused on particular aspects of Esther that made her an interesting character in the novel; like her passion for writing, her downfall… It’s called the Bell Jar because she’s looking at life as if she was looking through a bell jar.”

Through Sylvia Plath’s complex character, Esther Greenwood, the team were able to celebrate the creative work left behind by the visionary – but at no point is this a romanticisation of her end. Delving into the psyche of the popular Bell Jar author, the scenes of the play serve as different parts of the character’s brain.

It’s hard not to be touched and inspired by the works of Sylvia Plath, and for the Courthouse Youth Arts Creative Collective, the four writers, four visual artists and seven theatre makers, her impact is certainly felt.

“The quality and the level of artistry and passion of their art forms is really quite apparent and especially in choosing a complex theme or character as Sylvia Plath and it’s quite innovative in using all the space at Courthouse. It’s challenging but one they’ve taken on with both hands,” Olivia Allen, Creative program director says.

“What’s particularly unique to this project…is there are teams of people, so it’s exciting to see what this hotbed of creative people can bring along to the project. When you’ve got all of those minds working on the project it’s interesting to see what they can achieve.”

Written by Amanda Sherring

When & Where: Thursday, September 15 – Sunday, August 18 at Courthouse Youth Arts, Geelong. Thursday and Friday sessions are 8pm and Sunday session is 7pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased from  www.courthouse.org.au.