The 13-day festival will offer a range of immersive theatre events and other unique performance experiences across Melbourne

Building upon the success of its debut year in 2014, the programme for the second Festival of Live Art in Melbourne has been announced. The Festival aims to take Melbournians on a collaborative and immersive journey over 13 days in March with over 50 creative experiences on offer.

Jointly produced by Arts House, Theatre Works and Footscray Community Arts Centre, the Festival of Live Art pushes the boundaries of conventional performance and traditional theatre by engaging audiences in immersive environments. This adventurous style of performance examines the contemporary world we inhabit by inviting the audience to be part of the performance. This year’s Festival will examine the economics of the arts, explore the misogyny of social media, and examine the pervasive modern-day obsession with digital devices, putting personal and natural world connections at risk. 

Arts House in North Melbourne

Immersive events have become some of the most popular and cutting-edge theatre in the UK and the United States. Trailblazing companies such as Punchdrunk Theatre, Secret Cinema and The Spectators’ Guild have brought this formerly avant-garde practice into the mainstream. The immersive theatre scene in Australia is in its infancy, but the Festival of Live Art is hoping to get Australians hooked on immersive events.

Performances might take place in a theatre, a private booth, or even a carwash, and the audience is no longer a spectator to the performance. “The Theatre Works program presents so many different styles of work under the “live art” banner, from the Netherlands, UK, Germany and Australia,” says Daniel Clarke, the Creative Producer of Theatre Works. “We’ve got parties, experimental performances, developments and works for young people and families. The Festival of Live Art is for the adventurous audience member, those who like to be surprised and have their perceptions of live performance challenged.”

Theatre Works in St Kilda

A strong focus of this year’s Festival will be an exploration of how emerging technologies affect social relationships. As part of this year’s programme, Tamara Saulwick in collaboration with Peter Knight, Martyn Coutts and Steve Berrick invite audience members to participate in a collective listening as part of After, an audio-visual installation for 16 iPads.

Crush takes place at a secret carwash location, wherein audience members tune into a soundtrack via the FM radio in their vehicle as a large robot cleans their car from outside. The work by Sam Routledge and Dylan Sheridan is a powerful look at the future of our relationship with machines. 

Melbourne based theatre-maker, choreographer, producer and performer Bron Batten invites a volunteer participant each night to be involved in Onstage Dating. Examining the role of modern romance through online dating platforms Tinder, Grindr and OK Cupid, this show will test the commitment and comfort zones of performers, volunteers and audience members alike.  

Footscray Community Arts Centre

Skype Duet is performed simultaneously in New York and Melbourne, as one woman tries to reach out to the world using a laptop as her only mode of communication. Live and unexpected online interactions ensue, and audiences are invited to personally connect with New York City and its people. This work, examining the human need for connection, and what it means to be connected to one another, won the 100° Festival Berlin 2011 Jury Prize.

Triage Live Art Collective has created Hotel Obscure, an event that leads audience members through the city and into a hotel where a line-up of 14 local live art makers and three European guest collaborators meld together an “audio walk”. Audience members are free to roam and may even be lucky enough to have a one-on-one performance encounter.

Daniele Constance draws on personal recollections of incredible experiences in her work, People of Interest: a series of 10-15 minute stories in a 45-minute show. She leaves behind the traditional narrative script, and instead invites everyday storytellers to narrate intimate and personal stories – such as overcoming substance abuse, surviving 12 hours trapped in a crashed car, and fleeing a war-torn country – through her personally devised participatory processes.

Performances take place in a range of unexpected locations around Melbourne, with many more boutique performances to discover and experience.

Hosted by Arts House, Theatre Works and Footscray Community Arts Centre, the Festival of Live Art invites you to “Park your expectations, turn up and wear comfortable shoes”. For the full programme listing, further information and tickets, visit the Festival of Live Art website

Contribute to Limelight and support independent arts journalism.