Lost down a rabbit hole
Usually it’s the audience who arrives at the theatre unrehearsed. That way, audience reactions get to be spontaneous.
So, what if it was the other way around – that the audience has exactly the same inkling about what to expect from the play as the performer. This way, the performer also gets to be spontaneous. That’s a premise behind White Rabbit,
Red Rabbit by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour. It’s an idea that attempts to upturn traditional theatrical conventions, though those who frequent stand-up comedy, hypnotism shows and improv performances won’t notice much out of the usual.
Onto a blank stage, apart from a step ladder on one side and a round cafe table with chair on the other, the actor steps. Sitting on the table are two glasses of water, a spoon and an envelope. Inside the envelope is the script. This is the first time, apart from some backstage instructions, that actor and script are acquainted. Each night then, calls for a different actor.
Sunday night’s performer was Palmerston North raised Carrie Green, who graduated from Toi Whakaari – the New Zealand Drama School in 2012. Carrie won a 2015 Wellington Theatre Award for Most Promising Newcomer, and helped conduct Centrepoint’s 2016 summer school.
Throughout she was personable, engaging, natural and untheatrical, presenting the playwright so his presence came through, his words and intentions with plenty of light and shade. The audience reacted, laughed and applauded as together we discovered the script.
Let’s just say the unrehearsed scripted reading is some sort of extended parable to do with human behavioural science, suicide and a nod perhaps to the paradox of Schrodinger’s cat.
However, I’m still not sure where this particular rabbit hole came out. Was it a discovery worth making? Did the outcome match the ‘top secret’ hype?
I must admit to anticlimax. It will be different next time. You’ll have to go and decide for yourself.
Actors Carrie Green and Laura Daniel were onstage at Centrepoint during the first two nights of the experimental play White Rabbit Red Rabbit.