Fringe World review: Seeking basic needs and other tales of excess by Renée Newman ·
Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, 1 February ·
Review by Claire Trolio ·
Movement, migration and momentum. These are the themes in Renée Newman’s new immersive theatre work Seeking basic needs and other tales of excess.
Armed with a set of headphones and a map, participants are sent to meander around the streets of Northbridge whilst listening to an original soundscape created by Newman in collaboration with Perth based sound designer Ben Collins. The street, complete with its buildings, people, smells and sights, becomes the stage in this unique experiential work.
Encouraged to slow to an amble, to look up and around, to pause and sometimes even take a seat, participants find themselves slowing down in a city space, a space usually rushed through. Admittedly it was hard for me to switch off and focus but with the help of a little guided meditation I managed to embrace the moment and become more and more mindful as the walk progressed.
I work in Northbridge but in the 54 minutes I wandered around my neighbourhood, I noticed countless things I had never seen before… not because they were pointed out, but rather because I was urged to open my eyes and situate myself within my specific surroundings. Giving myself an opportunity to take time in a space in which I’m otherwise always on-the-go left me with an overwhelming feeling of peace.
The headphones deliver a mix of instruction, sound effects and stories. The last are personal musings on home and migration, from individuals who find themselves traversing the globe, sometimes by choice and sometimes by force. The work questions what is home and answers: it’s a pull, an elastic thread attached to your heart that stretches far but creates a tension pulling you back. Its not always about where you were born or grew up, but sometimes it can be.
At times there was perfect synchronicity between what I could hear and where I was placed. A mention of coffee was met with the aroma of roasted beans as I walked past a coffee hut. On the other hand the contrast between a loud crescendo whilst walking through trees was unexpectedly beautiful.
Seeking basic needs and other tales of excess isn’t afraid to tackle issues of war, heartbreak and dispossession, but out of this rises a life-affirming message of hope and progress. Movement is presented as positive as we adapt towards a better future.
Take a chance and place your trust in this work; it won’t disappoint.
Top photo: OK Media