A House is a Stage, and then it is Rubble

[The following is from an ongoing writing project which aims to investigate new forms of culture. This piece will take the shape of a strange theatre review, which is written not only by a critic/spectator (J) but also by a performer/producer (Z) with focus on the relationship of culture to the ‘housing crisis’. Connecting the two sides of the performance- its productive mechanics and its visible aspects takes two authors. The article is written collectively, by both a reviewer from the audience and a participant in the performance. In uneasy relation to the form of immersive theatre it bends the lines of the stage (making the critic a participant and the performer a critic). However, in opposition to immersion, this article seeks to alienate the reader by making transparent the productive relations of the play. This review will not end in one post but will instead form a series of fragments written in an interplay between the authors that will occasionally depart from the play and sometimes return with clarity.]

Rift, Macbeth, an overview.

After having been granted permission to perform their play in the council housing at Balfron Tower, the theatre entrepreneurs Rift took the half decanted tower that had once-upon-a-time been filled with the life blood of the area and instead siphoned it with a fomenting mess of ambitious ‘residents’. Peripheral producers, actors, and others eagerly signed up to 40 hour working weeks in order to have room and board in the shadow of Canary Wharf. The privilege of residing in a council house for six months was to be paid for by these young hopefuls in the form of domestic work and ‘creative labour. As well as this the actors were unwittingly defending against a possible occupation by squatters who would potentially embroil the new owners in costly legal battles that could end the redevelopment of the housing into luxury apartments.

The Play itself, Macbeth, was recast in the imagined land of Borduria where all fictions can co-exist. The atemporal-aspatial ‘rift’ in time, embodies many of the economic factors that drove the plays production. The production ‘guides’ (junior, unpaid actors) were racialised as eastern European characters while the lead players (who were remunerated) spoke in exemplary QE. Class was thus performed by the actors; reconfigured into a Racial framework. The performance was also deeply ‘immersive’, the screams of crying babies still living floors above or below mingled with the mise-en-scene. Cries of ‘stop, stop, my baby is sick’ seemed to be part of the infanticide in the performance, however they were not.

It was only when this author talked with his opposite in the performers that it became apparent that those noises were not a ‘nice touch’. One resident had a sick baby who was woken each night by Lady Macbeth. In a nightmarish inversion of the residents torment Lady Macbeth would cry-out as she witnessed the murder of her child several times per evening.

The immersive apparatus of the production was a machine for forgetting that Balfron tower existed, that its residents still lived amongst the commercial ventures of the producers. The audience, forgetful of themselves, left excreta on the balconies and urine in the mouth basins.

The stagecraft of immersion that transforms a home into a stage, before rubble, also turns a mother’s screams from bloody rage into a stage prop before it is exchanged for money

J

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