by Zecora Ura and Persis-Jade Maravala in collaboration with Joseph Dunne
After a sleepless night in November 2006, London-based theatre makers Zecora Ura and Persis-Jade Maravala decided to collaborate to create an overnight event about the myth of Medea. The event would last from midnight until dawn. During the process of writing project proposals, grant applications and seeking support to realize their vision, they encountered an unexpectedly strong resistance from programmers, producers, venues, festivals and funders who were opposed to the idea of an overnight event – with very rare exceptions – based on the assumption that there would not be an audience for such event.
Regardless of the lack of support the companies continued to work towards the making of this event by experimenting with different, more independent models of work and methodologies such as the DRIFT international residencies. HOTEL MEDEA from midnight to dawn eventually premiered in London at the Arcola Theatre in January 2009, and to the makers’ surprise all tickets were completely sold-out in the opening weekend.
Since then they have been very curious to know why audiences decided to come to an overnight production that producers and programmers were so convinced would have failed to attract audiences. And so they decided to ask the audiences directly. From then onwards both companies have attempted to keep in touch with their audiences via mobile phone, email and face-to-face, inviting them to speak about their expectations, concerns as well as helping them host their own events about the memories they still have of the overnight event.
As part of this ongoing dialogue, in January 2011 Zecora Ura and Persis-Jade Maravala invited audience member Joseph Dunne to talk about his memories of Hotel Medea to a public audience at Metalworks, Islington. And since then we have worked in collaboration with Joseph to look at how audiences remember events and how their memories become new performative events in their own right.
Audience as Document was created as part of this interest and is now organized as a regular public event developed in collaboration with Joe Dunne and other audience members. The event’s main objective is to allow audience members to take people through their memories of the overnight event using the location where the production happened, sometimes months or years after their experiences. Audiences lead the event by performing their memories live to an intimate audience of 3-5 people each.
We are interested in the idea that an audience member’s relationship with a live event starts the first time they hear about it and ends the last time they remember it. And by keeping an ongoing dialogue with audiences before, during and after their experiences we believe that we can gain an extraordinary insight into what impact such events have on individual audience members.
Previous AUDIENCE AS DOCUMENT EVENTS in 2011:
16 February: METALWORKS, Islington
25 March: Victoria & Albert Museum
24 April: Digital Stages Festival, Trinity Buoy Wharf