“There is a very large element of surprise for audiences in this piece.” So says composer and writer Ailís Ní Ríain. “My aim is to provoke, to enable a disabled audience and disable an enabled audience.”
In a piece that justifies its setting in the intimate confines of a hotel room, 8-10 at a time, the audience will bear witness to “a profoundly human piece about one person who is being observed.”
The setup appears simple: a woman (performer Alvean Jones) in a hotel room on her own. But it can often be the simple things that have the most depth, producing lingering effects long after the performance is over.
The substance of the piece revolves around the complex etherealness of human communication and what contributes to its breakdown. Ní Ríain says that not even she has decoded the essence of our relations with one another. “I think words are a hoax to some degree.”
The music-theatre piece seeks to challenge whilst creating an atmospheric reality that will have audiences forgetting that they are in the midst of a performance. Adding to the ambiance will be clarinettist Kate Romano whose live music plays an integrated and crucial part of the piece.
“The scenario is a straight-forward situation that someone could find themselves in but we’re witnessing it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have full capacity of hearing or speaking.”
Ní Ríain, who next year will have her New York debut as a playwright, is a contemporary classical composer who herself is hearing impaired; through this piece, she wants to share aspects of her experience with hearing loss with other people who may not understand how it can impact the everyday.
“The show is absolutely for everybody; whether they have hearing loss, whether they’re profoundly deaf, or whether they have no sensory impairments or disability whatsoever. What I’m interested in doing is creating art, music, and theatre in a site-specific context where everyone in the room — all of the audience — get the same information.”
Previously shown in Cork and London, this will be the third staging of the unique performance, which has elicited positive past reactions with viewers citing an intense and powerful experience.
“The interest I have is to bring the experience of an aspect of sensory disability to a wider audience through the prism of art — challenging art. Not dumbing down. We feel it’s really crucial that work that engages with disability should be of this kind of this level and should be asking these questions instead of toying around it.”
The quiet approach of the piece will be a contrast to what audiences can sometimes expect from the avant-garde.
“Sometimes work like this — it ain’t sexy. We don’t have pyrotechnics, we don’t have nudity, we don’t have crazy people doing crazy things with the audience. For us, this is very much a subtle, very gentle, very human short experience.”
Words: Rose Ugoalah
In The Marker Hotel Friday September 21 to Sunday September 23 @ 12:30, 13:10, 13:50, 14:45, 15:25 & 16:05.