One of Melbourne’s leading international festivals, the aptly named – Melbourne Festival – starts today.
Considered one of Australia’s leading international Arts festivals, it has developed a reputation for offering a diverse selection of international and local performances in dance, theatre, multimedia platforms, as well as free and outdoor events.
This year’s festival hosts a range of modern and compelling international works, one of which is All of My Friends Were There, an immersive theatre show performed by anonymous production company, The Guerrilla Museum.
In 2016, The Guerrilla Museum delivered the genre-defying work, Funeral and in similar manner, this year’s work puts a spotlight on one unsuspecting audience member to share their favourite birthday memories and be witness to a tailored theatrical performance.
Interviewing an anonymous creator from an immersive theatre production can be challenging and charming… as you will read below:
All of My Friends Were There
Angela Perez: How did the idea or concept of "All of My Friends Were There" emerge or develop?
Anonymous Creator: The Guerrilla Museum love to celebrate the rich tapestry of human existence through random lives. We interrogated work that could act as a companion piece to Funeral, and birthdays and weddings were two that kept coming up (we’ve still got weddings up our sleeve). Over time we landed on the idea of an entire theatre of people working together to celebrate the life and birthdays of a complete stranger. Once we realised we could basically throw a party on stage, we were in.
AP: How do you feel this year's production is a continuation of last year’s Funeral?
AC: Without elaborating on Funeral, which is a work we still like to be fairly private about, we do feel having the chance to find an empathetic connection is an important factor in the art we make. We’re also very secretive and enjoy the element of surprise - so although we’ve publicly stated that All My Friends Were There is a show about birthdays and birthday parties that celebrates someone in the audience, nobody attending has any idea who is in the cast or what’s going to happen!
AP: What do you think is the best thing or the most surprising thing about doing theatre in this improvisational manner?
AC: We work hard to put non-cynical art into the world. We don’t make what we do in order to get famous (which is why nobody’s name is on the bill), or get rich (almost impossible in the multi-cast and multi-production world of immersive theatre!). We genuinely believe in art as a gift. We think audiences connect to that, and respond truly wholeheartedly. We’ve seen incredibly raw, unguarded human moments and we don’t exploit them - we share them. We feel that when we approach an audience with an open mind, they’re ready to go on an adventure.
AP: What are the specific types of magic that you get (or don't get) from producing such a show?
AC:Actual, real, genuine human experiences. For us and the audience. We work so hard to build personal touches and create totally unique theatrical works. No two shows are ever the same - we think that’s pretty magic.
AP: Do you see this year's production evolving into another show next year? If so - how?
AC:Though AOMF is an immersive monster, we’d love to tour it. And there are still weddings to think of…
All of My Friends Were There runs from the 5 - 11 October, at the Theatre Works. Visit their website here for more details.
The Melbourne Festival
Dates: 4 – 22 October 2017
Location: Multiple Venues (see website for more details)