“Thus INVITED creates intimacy among strangers, albeit fellow citizens and partners in adversity. Theatre that engenders something like this of its own accord is so unusual that it leaves you speechless.”
“The way in which the makers involve their audience in the action makes this a groundbreaking performance.”
For most performances, the audience sits neatly arranged in the theatre, leaning back in comfortable seats while the performers stand at a distance on stage. With INVITED, choreographer Seppe Baeyens tries to formulate his artistic response to the question: how can the audience participate in creating the choreography of a performance? With dance as a common language, he aims to create a community in a limited time and space in which the boundaries between the cast and the audience are blurred.
INVITED comprises a diverse and intergenerational group of performers who mirror today’s society. The scenography both unites and divides, becomes visible and invisible, and leads the audience and the performers through the collectively written story.
A performance for both young and old. Ultima Vez’s 94-year old neighbour is also taking part!
From the jury report:
All too often participatory theatre is a synonym for theatre that has the spectator look on, instead of inviting him to take part. That is not the case with INVITED by Seppe Baeyens in which the spectators really do participate. An interminably long snake, an object by Ief Spincemaille, is the ‘set’ for this production, but also the collective seating, which welds the individual spectators into a group. Singing, perhaps the oldest expression of the sense of belonging, is a similar force for social cohesion. Here in the pitch dark a whole choir encourages the spectators to join in the canons in the protective mantle of the darkness, with the result that a bond develops between spectators and makers. That bond is so strong that all of them take it upon themselves to roll out the snake they are sitting on to create a larger performance area. Only then do the performers make themselves known. There are lots of them and it is a very diverse group: (very) young and (very) old, black and white. Two of them have Down’s syndrome. Each in turn steps into the circle. Soon they start inviting spectators to join them and perform an action – an intimate embrace, a hand on the heart – but they are never compelled to do anything. The actors themselves do take risks. One of them even allows a whole bunch of people to jump over him. In another scene, actors have unflinching confidence that someone will catch them if they fall over backwards.
That confidence is genuine. The actors’ generosity is beyond measure. And it is so infectious that before long the spectators have no hesitation whatsoever about performing an action. Sometimes half of the audience runs and jumps with them, the live music provided by Stef Heeren, Kwinten Mordijck and Karen Willems acting as the drive wheel. Thus INVITED creates intimacy among strangers, albeit fellow citizens and partners in adversity. Theatre that engenders something like this of its own accord is so unusual that it leaves you speechless.