23 October 2012

Melbourne Festival: Hold & Impasse

Melbourne Festival 2012
David Cross
Arts House
23 October 2012
Arts House, Meat Market
to 28 October

Denis Beaubois, William McClure & Jeff Stein
Arts House
23 October 2012
Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall
to 28 October

I don't want to say anything about Hold or Impasse because the experience is so personal and spoilers aren't fair. I promise that I say no more than is in the Festival guide.

Both are huge art installation, interactive immersive performance spaces designed for one person at a time.  You are the story. You're alone.

There's no one to hold your hand or help or comfort. (Except in Hold, but I'm not sure if loved or loathed that hand.)

There's no one to share it with, until you're out and it's impossible to share with someone who hasn't done it. I'm begging people to do it, just so I can debrief.

Hold is a blue inflatable; it's like a jumpy castle, but it's nothing like a bouncy castle as it stands alone in the dark and cavernous Meat Market surrounded by the brass sheep heads.

The warning – Performance requires high level of physical mobility and personal responsibility. Dangerous for those with serious existing medical conditions, including heart and respiratory problems – is true. Don't sign your personal waiver without reading it. I left with a broken nail, a bruised wrist, bruised shin and a sore shoulder from holding on too tight.

It's extreme and confronting.  It made me feel fat and middle-aged, but I am so going back to do it again.

Described as a phobic space, it confronts phobias. I didn't think I had any...   But I was scared, feel-it-in-my-guts scared and I gave in to the fear for a second and that was all it took.

Impasse is around the corner at the North Melbourne Town Hall. It's dense and white.  It's not as physically challenging as Hold, but they give you a panic button before you go in. I loved my panic button. I didn't use it, but I knew it was there.

I nearly gave up at the beginning and headed out. But I went back and it was brilliant.

Yes, I was scared. I knew both were totally safe spaces, but I was scared.

It was a bit like the safe fear thrill of horror films or carnival rides, except you really are living it and you can't simply shut your eyes or hang on. The nearest I've come to it was the first time I caught a Hunstman spider after being terrified of them for 30 or so years, or maybe first sex. The second time can never be as intimidating as the first.

Who should do it?
or, Who should I shag to get a ticket?

Both are officially sold out, but people don't turn up and if you're free on week days, the chances of getting in may be good. I expect that weekends will be impossible.

Have I mentioned that it's FREE? Free!

If you have a ticket and are having doubts. Physically, Hold is very challenging. It's really not for anyone injured or not mobile. If you have genuine phobias, maybe talk to someone who has done it. (I did tell one person what happens at the beginning to convince her that it was ok.)

However, you'll know at the start if it's not for you and there's nothing wrong with turning around and going out. If that's your story and your experience, it's as awesome as anyone else's.

Otherwise, just do it. Go with the fear, go with your gut and experience something so real that there really aren't words to describe it.

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