Melbourne Fringe 2016

A Really Cool Little Adventure, Melbourne Fringe 2016

0 Comments 11 August 2016

Words by Eleanor Boydell

A conversation about participation, production, mallet sports, and the specialness of individuals.

Sitting down for an interview with producer Kristina Arnott turned into a fascinating conversation about the challenges and opportunities that abound in the space of participatory live art.  Arnott, along with creator/performer Shannon Loughnane and dramaturge Cathy Hunt, will be bringing The One to Melbourne Fringe 2016.  A live art and theatre piece for an audience of just seven, this exclusive experience invites its audience to step into the role of locals in a small Midwestern US town in the grips of a snowstorm.  Rogue Deputy Sherriff Joe Kovac (played by Loughnane) needs your help to find someone who’s gone missing in the storm.

“The real crux of this show is the specialness of individuals—their experiences, their interpretations and their uniqueness,” Arnott explained.  “This notion of The One is about the singular audience members, the missing person and the potential psychic connection that could exist between us all.”

Arnott speaks highly of her creative colleagues who’ve developed The One, in particular commending the show’s approach to participation.  Sensitive to anxieties people may have about engaging in live art, Arnott appreciates that this project offers an alternative to the format of picking audience members from the front row.  “I’m really interested in exploring how to make [participatory art] not threatening or intimidating for the audience… It can be a really beautiful, personal experience, a nice emotional connection to the show.”

The One uses sensory stimulus to divulge clues about the mystery at its core, which may trigger autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), the relaxed tingling sensation that can result from acoustic or visual triggers.  “It’s a very gentle experience, and comforting,” suggested Arnott – referring not only to the use of ASMR, but also to the approach of giving the audience choice in how they interact throughout the show.

Beyond its fictional mystery, the production will incorporate the real life mystery of finding the venue, the tucked away Brunswick Mallet Sports Club – “apparently there’s a whole gamut of mallet sports out there!”

Arnott struck me as modest and down-to-earth, much more eager to speak about her Fringe collaboration than her background.  Since completing a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Culture in 2012, Arnott has been involved with a range of arts festivals, events and projects, as well working closely with artists in the role of Projects and Events Coordinator with Colour Box Studio since 2013.

Candid about being an emerging arts manager and producer still exploring the field, Arnott is part of Fringe Festival’s Compass Professional Development Program, wherein participants are paired with industry mentors to receive one-on-one support.  “I was so amazed when I saw this program… It’s about giving us the tools to act as producers.”  From a background in community and visual arts, Arnott has been making a move towards performing and live arts.  Coming to Fringe directly from a role as an Assistant Producer with the Festival of Live Art, Arnott was paired with Loughnane and Hunt to support the production of The One.

Looking ahead, Arnott is keen to work in programming and producing that retains the focus on “welcoming” live art, emphasising, “you need experiences for audiences who might not normally participate in performing arts.”  Asked about the importance of festivals like Fringe in drawing together artists and audiences, Arnott referred to the unique atmosphere or “buzz” that encourages people to go out, have experiences, and participate in something great.

“I think the show will be a really cool little adventure experience.” From the sounds of it, for Arnott, it already has been.  Over ten performances, a total of seventy audience members will get to share the adventure.

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