26 April 2014

The 24-Hour Experience, part 1

FOLA
24-Hour Experience
29–30 March 2014
24hourexperience.com.au


It's been more than 24 days since the 24-Hour Experience, the final event of the Festival of Live Art.

My only excuse is that it was in the middle of six weeks of festivals and my tweets tell me exactly how I felt by the hour.

24 hours. 24 shows. A new one every hour in a new location in and around the city.

Designed to explore and reflect on Melbourne's hidden, secret or ignored spaces, the works ranged from earnest to joyous, personal to voyeristic, and already-forgotten to highlight-of-the-year.

I started at noon with the goal to make it to late in the night or at least until 6 pm at the City Baths.

I finally headed home at 5.30 am. I saw 16 shows.

With people on single-show, 4-hour, 12-hour and 24-hour tickets, there were about 50 people doing each experience, with the core group bonding more by the hour. It was like travelling, in that strangers became friends very quickly. And if we go back next year, it'll be a reunion.

Hour #1 Freewheelin' 12 pm


This involved wheelchairs, taking photos and posting to Instagram with iPods that didn't want to play the game. But we met a lovely dog called Lilly on Princes Bridge and her dad took this pic.

Hour #2 The Performance of Everyday 1 pm


Lunch! And our first headphones for the day. We ate while listening to verbatim conversations overheard in another cafe. I so hope they were verbatim because the one about the 40-something woman having laser-eye sex with the 23-year-old man was too wonderful to not be real.

Hour #3 Is there theatre in justice? 2 pm



We're in the old magistrates court as a the barrister prepares for a case. He asks if we think he's a real lawyer or an actor. At 2 am, I looked up and said, "Why didn't we say, 'You're a barrista'?"

Hour #4 The Library of Indestructible Dreams 3 pm



This was my first wow moment and the first one to let me feel the personal connection. It happened in the busy first floor of The State Library.

Earlier in the week, we'd been sent an email asking us to choose a book from the library. I chose an early edition of Winnie The Pooh from the rare books collection. I never expected it to come out and was happy with a Where is the Green Sheep?. 

Green Sheep was waiting for me, but then I saw a plastic bag with my name on it.

It held a 1946 edition of Winnie the Pooh. It wasn't the 1926 one, but it was old and loved and from a time when books were something precious. When I was a child, the paternal side of my family weren't winners, but they gave me books and for that I will always be grateful. Winnie the Pooh was my favourite and one of the first books that I read by myself.

The experience was to follow directions to a spot in the library where two people would meet and read each other a page from their book.

Hour #5 The Guest List 4 pm


photo by Ali Alexander

Finding undeveloped, original Melbourne buildings in the city is always astonishing. This one was in the Lower School House of the Wesley Uniting Church (between Lonsdale and Little Lonsdale streets, where it would have sat a stones throw from the brothels).

The most wonderful part of this performance, by Aaron Pedersen, was that the audience responded when he started talking about the wedding he was attending. He didn't expect the response, but it seemed like it had been written to be exactly like that.

Hour #6 Queerum 5 pm


photo by Ali Alexander

I hit the wall early.  At 5 pm I wanted to go home and had had enough of bloody art and bloody artists. So I didn't go to the installation in a house in Carlton. Instead, I had coffee and a large pandan bun, and headed to Aldi for late-night chocolaty supplies.

Coming up: Bathing Beauties at the City Baths, a cat and quiz dinner, and going into the underground men's toilets.

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