Lead artists/researchers: Dr. Andrew Quick and Pete Brooks
Hotel Methuselah aims to combine innovative stage designs, new narrative techniques and highly choreographed live action to explore themes of cultural and political importance, which are accessible to a wide range of audiences. It employs the processes and experience of amnesia and remembering as its central structuring principle. Set in a contemporary version of Europe that is in the throes of civil war, the action follows the surreal and tragic story of a hotel porter who attempts to piece together the narratives of his past, which have been fragmented and partly erased by the traumatic violence of the conflict. Focusing specifically on explorations of gender relations, memory and the function of story-telling, the aim of Hotel Methuselah is to create an innovative and high quality performance work, which successfully experiments with the formal properties of theatre and cinema in order to examine the traumatic effect that violence produces in contemporary culture.
Hotel Methuselah draws on specific narratives of 50s and 60s British and French cinema and is informed by significant theorists of film and performance. These include, Stephen Heath, Deleuze, Auslander and Phelan. Quick's particular theoretical background is focused on the question of performance's potential to pose ethical questions and his work has centred around the thinking of Lyotard, Agamben and Badiou, who have all written with startling perspicacity on cinema, theatre and contemporary fine art.
The piece hopes to explore in particular the following questions:
- What is the status and function of narrative within postmodern and /or post- dramatic performance forms?
- Can the juxtaposition of cinema and theatre produce a notion of duree (duration) that recontextualise contemporary conceptualisations of 'liveness' as posited by academic writers such as Auslander and Phelan?
- How do the juxtapositions of cinema and theatre affect audiences? One of the primary research aims of the piece is to explore how an active editing process is promoted in the mind of the spectator (i.e. to stimulate an engagement in a shot/reverse shot editing process in the spectator's imaginative relation to watching the performance). Is this aim met and what are the implications for our understanding of witnessing in live performance where screen technologies are used?
- How do cinema and theatre operate as memory machines? How does the juxtaposition of two different representational regimes further our understanding of how memory is both represented and operates?
- How do inter-media performance pieces rework conventional narrative structures and do they outline possible new ways of understanding narrative and its significance in contemporary culture?