Experience: The Blind Theater turns the body into the stage of a sensorial theater. The piece plays with the body as the central stage of a different theatrical experience.
Upon entering the theatre, the visitor is met by a personal guide. This guide follows the user through the whole play, a half hour long dive into a different sensorial reality. For the first time, the blind gain full access to the theater and –on the other side- the sighted gets the sensation of the blinded.
The Story: The play is built around five different experiential and sensual portraits of what it means to be woman. Five international artists have each written their story about the inside of female identity, from the sexual to the frustrative. These are: Shiva Falahi, Edy Poppy, Narve Hovdenakk, Veronika Bökelmann, Kate Pendry.
The Bodysuit: Entering the theatre, the user is blindfolded. Then s/he is dressed in an electronic, computer-controlled bodysuit. This bodysuit becomes the new skin of the user, slipping him or her into the corpus of a story told through touch and binaural, 3 dimensional sound. The suit imprints one of the five different stories about being a woman directly on the body. The bodysuit renders the story physical, the experience becomes a real, personal and intimate play with female identity. As the stories are physically told, they really do happen. With and through your body.
Technology: The bodysuit is a stand-alone application based on mini-pc’s in combination with custom built Arduino controller-board. It is an open-source project working with the development of haptic and tactile storytelling
The Place: The first performances of The Blind Theater was played at night during the festival of contemporary theatre (Samtidsfestivalen) at the Norwegian National Theatre in Oslo in 2009. The theatre was turned dark at midnight, transforming the building into a sensual sculpture. Letting the visitors blindly move through the Dark Theater underlines how the body becomes the new and introverted stage of the play.
The New Theater: The blind sensuality experienced wipes out the difference between the performer and audience. Together the space of the theatre and the introversion of the play create a sensuous-democratic space of experience for both blind and sighted. In our visually dominated culture it opens the theater to a blind and blinded audience.
The Blind Theatre represents a new, experimental theatrical experience through the following:
1. It is a Theater for the Blind: it tries to make a complete and meaningful theatrical experience for a new audience; the blind. The theatre achieves this through physical touch, text and sound.
2. Experimental Text: the text is also written for the blind, challenging the way we write text and how we develop text based expressions
3. Interactive Theater: it is an interactive theatre where the audience is both on-watchers, participants and performers
4. Eksperimental Expressions: the project blurs the boarders between media, art, literature, performance and theatre.
5. Open Experiment. The project experiments with the theatre reduced to a corporal and mental space of experience only. What happens when the theatre is gone dark? When you can see no more? What happens when the blind and the seeing sense the same?
6. Binaural, 3Dimensional Sound Theater. The piece use binaural, three dimensional sound that appears natural to the ear. The visitor wears a headset to experience the intimate and personal sound. The combination of physical stimulus and movement around in the blind space with sound gives a strong sense of structure and spatial experience.
Concept and artistic direction: Stahl Stenslie
Dramaturgy: Kate Pendry
Text: Veronika Bökelmann (Germany), Shiva Falahi (Iran), Narve Hovednakk (Norway), Kate Pendry (England), Edy Poppy (Norway
Artistic Programming: Jonas Jongejan (Denmark)
Sound: Truls Kvam and Kate Pendry
Costume designer: Ingvild Hornseth
Financed by the Norwegian Council for Cultural Affairs and the National Theater. The development is supported by Notam and Atelier Nord.