Up Close in Copenhagen by Tom Swift

Interning at the Performance Corporation…
30th March 2012
**New** Across the Lough Promo
4th April 2012

Up Close in Copenhagen by Tom Swift

I’m in a small dark room with a young woman who’s wearing nothing but her underwear and a blindfold. “Where do you like to be touched?” she asks. Welcome to the up close and uncomfortable world of Danish theatre.

I’m just back from Copenhagen where I attended the Informal European Theatre Meeting conference along with our CEO Jo Mangan and our Programme Manager Collette Haverty. And amid a whirlwind of meetings and policy discussions, we got to see a variety of new Danish work including the above-referenced Venus Labyrinth, created by the Cantabile 2 company.

This piece involved a number of one-on-one encounters with female performers in a series of small rooms. The pitch was that this was an investigation of the female mind. Audience members chose from a table of objects which signaled which room you were sent to.

My first happened to be the “room of sexuality” where I had to dress my new friend in a ball gown and ended up with her briefly “lobbing the gob” as they used to say back in the day. There were two further encounters – one with a nice woman who made you think about your childhood and fed you yoghurt, and another with a woman who put me in a blindfold and danced with me for 10 minutes in a dark room. Not totally unpleasant, very well conceived, but all a bit odd is my verdict.

I’ve always thought that the audience members are characters in the work The Performance Corporation does, but we’ve never ask them to act out parts. Unless it’s done with great care, this type of work could risk changing the experience from one of being an audience member to that of just another actor (and in my case a bad one) who’s more concerned about performing their part well than really engaging with the work.


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