A sense of drama

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Theatre - Tanya MacNaughton

IM­MER­SIVE theatre is an ex­pe­ri­ence for all the senses and sec­ond year WAAPA Bach­e­lor of Per­form­ing Arts stu­dent, ac­tor and pro­ducer Leah Mil­burn-Clark in­vites au­di­ences to sit on the stage and soak it all up in pro­duc­tion Happy Days at War.

“The au­di­ence sits within reach­ing dis­tance and there are smells, things to touch and some star­tling imagery,” Mil­burn-Clark said. “In re­hearsals, we use the anal­ogy ‘if you wit­ness a crime and don’t re­port it, you be­come an ac­ces­sory to the crime’ and that’s ex­actly what we aim to im­part on the au­di­ence; the sense that they are ac­com­plices to the ter­ror and the beauty that un­folds on­stage.”

Happy Days at War fol­lows a cou­ple who find love and joy amidst the po­lit­i­cal tur­moil of Ger­many in 1939, but signed to work for the Fuhrer, the hus­band (played by Jay Pear­don) must de­clare any af­fil­i­a­tion with Jews or peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties or im­pair­ments.

His wife (played by Mil­burnClark) is blind and her im­pair­ment deems her sub-hu­man un­der the Nazi regime.

“Emo­tional tor­ment takes over what was once a lov­ing re­la­tion­ship as the hus­band's morals are ques­tioned and he must choose his coun­try or his wife,” Mil­burn-Clark said.

“I am in­cred­i­bly pas­sion­ate about equal rights for the dis­abled and im­paired, and be­lieve the arts are a won­der­ful medium for build­ing aware­ness.

“The set­ting, Ger­many 1939, is a pe­riod of his­tory that I truly find scary. The abil­ity of peo­ple in power to twist the minds of an en­tire coun­try (through pro­pa­ganda) to be­lieve a cer­tain race, and sub­se­quently peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, were lesser be­ings chills me to the bone. “

Mil­burn-Clark, who will get aca­demic credit for the show, said she dreamt of run­ning her own theatre com­pany, but not be­fore trav­el­ling to Lon­don and New York.

“I have my eyes on some of the big im­mer­sive theatre com­pa­nies tak­ing the world by storm,” she said. “I would like to get caught up in their whirl­wind.”

Pic­ture: Alanna Kusin

Jay Pear­don and Leah Mil­burn-Clark.

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