Trekking up from Victoria we have our Setting the Stages Artists’ the indirect Object, a company who has previously left their mark on the Crack Theatre Festival line-up in 2014 with For the Love of an Orange. For 2016, the team are returning with their new work Echo Chamber/Witness, a one-on-one immersive experience of sound and touch that transports audiences to the refugee camps on the shores of Greece.
Echo Chamber/Witness was created in direct response to feeling helpless in the face of Australia’s refugee policy: “We were feeling very powerless. The greatest humanitarian crisis of our age was unfolding and here we were, citizens of a country with an inhumane refugee policy not knowing how we could contribute” said Beth, a founding member of the indirect Object.
So they decided to do something about it. Beth and fellow company member Michael went to Greece earlier this year and volunteered in refugee camps, using their time to talk to the locals and visit newly abandoned camps. Along the way they collected stories and sound recordings of their experience. Their journey is what is being re-created for Echo Chamber/Witness: “experiencing Echo Chamber/Witness is walking our journey, you hear our stories, you go on the journey with us – and it’s not the journey you might expect”.
This work takes a enormous leap away from the indirect Object’s previous works as it is a lot less ‘performative’ and the focus is drawn to the participant and how they negotiate their experience. Another departure from previous work in this piece is the fact it will be taking place in complete darkness: “Our work is always visually strong, often without language or narrative. So Echo Chamber/Witness is forcing us to reexamine how we communicate.” As the work is confined in a dark chamber, the spatial, tactile and sound elements play an important part in creating the experience for participants. Beth says, “We want people to feel deeply loved and cared for amidst a disorienting and unsettling journey.”
Alongside Beth and Michael as the performer/creators there is a genius sound designer Thomas “Soup” Campbell, designer Jen Chan who specialising in community engagement and has designed the ‘Echo Chamber’ itself, and the exceptional technician Geoff Adams who makes everything work. Sounds like an absolute killer team right?!
Echo Chamber/Witness is a brave and daring creation made by a team of artists who are willing to challenge themselves and challenge the audiences of their works. To create Echo Chamber/Witness, it sounds like they came face to face with the confronting reality of what we can safely keep at a distance behind our screens and newsfeeds. But they have also seen the hope and strength that can be found amidst this kind of destruction: “We’ve seen horrific scars, homelessness and hunger but amidst all that there are some truly extraordinary people motivated by a shared belief that everyone should live with dignity […] Hope exists”.
What they are all about: Taking a story or emotional state from our lives, putting it in a blender then throwing it against a wall to see what sticks.
A tiny taster of what is to come: Journey. Encounter. Hope
The indirect Object are our Setting the Stages artists from VIC. Immerse yourself in the sensory experience of Echo Chamber/Witness on Thursday 2:30pm-5pm, Friday 10am-5pm and Saturday at 10am-5pm at The Emporium.