Home theatre — literally
Wychwood artist opened her apartment doors to the public for latest project
Rebecca Singh is not afraid of strangers.
The writer and performance artist welcomed the public into her home all night as part of the Scotiabank Nuit Blanche event on Oct. 1.
Visitors became performers when they entered her apartment, which was converted into what is believed to be Canada’s smallest theatre. Up to 15 audience members at a time were allowed to come in and watch volunteers present a six-minute monologue about their lives.
“We’re pretty excited to hear anybody’s story,” said Singh days before the event. “If you’ve got a story you’d like to tell you’re certainly welcome to come by.”
She partnered with costume and stage designer Hendrik Scheel in order to construct the stage within her home at the Artscape Wychwood Barns where she has lived for the past three years.
“(Singh), as a performing artist has not got the opportunity to work in her working/living unit,” Scheel said via online video chat. “So she made up this idea of making this tiny place where you just sit in, making it a theatre, and I was pretty amazed by that.”
The thought of inviting complete strangers into her home had given Singh second thoughts at times, but she found storage to move her personal belongings out of the unit and was present throughout the night.
“This is something Hendrik and I talked about because it’s not in my nature,” she said of hosting surprise guests. “This is certainly embarking on a new experience in this space.”
The pair met two years ago in Scheel’s home country of Germany. They quickly connected on an artistic level, but admit it’s difficult to work together while separated by the Atlantic Ocean.
“Skype certainly helps a lot but it is hard because you do have to see each other in person to figure some stuff out,” Singh said. “You can’t only work online in the type of work that we do.”
Scheel spent five weeks in Toronto last summer helping to plan the project and another five weeks here this summer building the stage and seats for the unique and intimate setting.
“During the last years I kind of moved a bit from this classical stage design … and really into mixing it up,” Scheel said. “That was also amazing about this small space because it is there in natural terms that you are not away from the stage and that you are physically touched by the actor or by the performance.”
Although guests were not be able to meet Scheel physically, he was watching the event via Skype chat.
The tiny theatre was one of 134 official installations on display during Nuit Blanche and one of four at Wychwood Barns. While there, arts enthusiasts can also enjoy several other interactive installations. One called Audio Graffiti allows users to “tag” a wall with sound and listen to sounds left by others. SonicSpaces transforms people’s movements into sounds and Night Light Travels explores the theme of the imagination of children.
The sixth annual Scotiabank Nuit Blanche began at 7 p.m. on Oct. 1 and ran until sunrise.
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