Not having read anything about any of the shows that I am attending at ABSOLUT Fringe except what I might know about some of the companies involved, I arrived at the new theatre in Temple clueless on White Rabbit Red Rabbit other than the writer was Iranian
If you have never been to the New Theatre is small in size seating about 70 people, so everyone is very close to the stage. As usual everyone is given the usual safety announcements, where the emergency exists are ect, then unusual for an announcement in theatre you are told not to switch off your mobiles but to switch them to silent, the reason becomes clear during the show.
We are also informed that the play will be performed by a different actor each day who only receives that script in a sealed envelope as they walk out on stage. The play was written by Nassim Soleimanpour who has been refused permission to leave his native Iran, for not taking part in military service, which is mandatory for all Iranian men. Unable to travel he wrote White Rabbit Red Rabbit in English (which during the play we learn was difficult for him, as it’s not his first language) it requires no director, no set, minimal props. That was in 2010 since then the play has been performed in many parts of the world.
Yesterday the actor chosen for the performance Olwen Fouere, one of Ireland’s most loved actress of stage came out with envelope in hand, where a table, one chair, a ladder two glasses of water and a container containing what appeared to be salt. Opening the envelope Olwen read aloud the instructions of the writer, which began by the audience counting off by number how many of us were in the audience. With everyone numbered my suspicions were aroused that we would be called upon at some point in the show. That did not take too long to be reality when my number was called as were 9 others called upon to appear at various points on stage.
Without going in to any detail about the plot of the play, it was an interesting concept in which the writer through the actor, simply asks if the choose to act out the script as written or if the so wish at any point just stop. The writer through the actor in turn asks the audience to perform various roles through the play, all the time while the words were spoken by Olwen you are very aware that it is the voice of Nassim Soleimanpour directing. He invites the audience to email him about the play; take pictures on your phone share them on facebook or send them to him. The play develops from an almost silly perspective developing into a more serious plot as it progresses. Centre of the front row was an empty seat was a visual acknowledgement of the absent playwright Nassim Soleimanpour, unable to leave his country.
As White Rabbit Red Rabbit will be performed by a different actor with no rehearsals or direction, and the reaction of the audience opinions will contrast widely depending on the performance you seen.
For me it was 2 minutes on stage in a play with Olwen Fouere something I could not have imagined walking into the theatre an hour earlier.
To share your experiences of the show you can email Nassim firstname.lastname@example.org
White Rabbit Red rabbit is showing at the New Theatre
September 11th – 15th & 18th – 22nd of September at 13.00 each day
Tickets priced €10 and €8 for concession.
Duration of show 60 minutes
©Tom Dowling 2012 and image