Remaking the Ex
Multi-media stage experience
Those viewing IFF will notice clues in the lobby that this is not an ordinary theatrical experience. Stripped of their usually passive role, audience members are lead to their seats through a series semi-translucent hallways.
“They’re starting to cross the border into ‘theater world,’” Green explains.
When the audience arrives in the playing space, all they discover is a ring of eight television sets. All they have to look at are the TVs and each other.
According to Green, “The ideal would be that the audience are aware of themselves as a group.”
Calling attention to group dynamics seems particularly appropriate for a play whose theme concerns the moral perils of following the majority.
Green explains, “What we do want to do is point out how people habitually observe the media. We’re pushing buttons and asking audience members why they accept certain truths and not others.”
Guiding the audience through this experience is a character who appears sometimes on screen and sometimes in the theater. “He’s the only one you can trust,” Green says. “The camera is almost a part of him.
To emphasize the apparent objectivity of the guide, Green shot his scenes loosely in accordance to a set of rules (Dogme) outlined in 1995 by two Danish filmmakers. Also used in the film Italian For Beginners, Dogme forbids artificial lighting and extraneous music, special effects and sound.
In contrast to the documentary asceticism of the guide’s perspective, the scenes played out on the television screens, representing the separate rooms of Gambaro’s original staging, present an array of traditional genres: sitcom, film noir, newscast.
Green hopes his visual style contributes to the play’s effect. “What I’m trying to do is give the piece enough visual weight to carry the message of the play without using lots of heavy-handed pedantic techniques.”
Gambaro originally used the innovation of an active audience to ask her fellow Argentines to consider their own roles in the violence of the Dirty War.
“I can’t say my goals are nearly as important or as lofty,” admits Green, but he maintains that IFF remains just as relevant to contemporary audiences as to those in 1972 Argentina. Ultimately, the goal is not to convince the audience of a certain hypothesis, but to force them to ask the questions themselves.