13 July 2014
to 13 July 2014
Closed For Maintenance celebrated the history of La Mama and created a theatrical experience that was so much more than a sit-and-watch play.
From the adventure of going in from the back laneway (and finally knowing where that door leads to) and being dressed in protective gear, there was a sense of nervous excitement and anticipation. And it was fulfilled.
This was one of those rare occasions when the audience really were a part of the show. Watching the caretaker (Chris Molyneux) and listening to his stories about shows was wonderful, but it was only a part of the experience. What made this so fun was watching other audience members react and interact with the actors, seeing people discover something in the design, or discovering a tiny design gem that you know no one else but you saw. I had a moment when the man trapped in the box drew a picture on a post-it note and handed it to me. I have no idea if anyone else saw it; I kept the post-it.
Meanwhile, forget visceral experience, there was the literal experience of being in darkness with strangers and not knowing what is around the corner and the feeling a snowstorm of foam without knowing what it was, and then bubbles, water and smoke.
It was remarkable how such a tiny space could be made to feel so mysterious and so large. There were memories from so many past La Mama shows. Some I remembered, many I’d never heard of but now feel like maybe I was there, even if I wasn’t living in Melbourne at the time.
This kind of nostalgic celebration could have so easily been a static display or a panel discussion or a website, but Closed For Maintenance made it an experience; an experience that was unlike anything that had been at La Mama in the past and an experience that celebrated how La Mama supports and encourages experimentation, risk and art that refuses to fit into a neat and dull genre box.
And it was conceived, designed and created by Bronwyn Pringle, Melanie Liertz, Lisa Mibus, Pippa Bainbridge, Jessica Smithett and Jack Beeby.