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Site Unseen – Melbourne Festival

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What is it that causes one person who suffers a crisis to overcome their trauma and move forward with their life and another to end up homeless on the streets?   

 Melbourne International Arts Festival 2011 Presented by:  City of Port Phillip, Port Phillip Community Group, Many Moons Group & Sacred Heart Mission Venue:  St. Kilda Triangle Car Park Thursday 6 October, 2011  Site UnseenWhat is it that causes one person who suffers a crisis to overcome their trauma and move forward with their life and another to end up homeless on the streets?   Site Unseen is a simulation installation with a particular focus on homelessness. The aim of this production is to provide the audience with an insight into the realities of living on the streets and the prejudice, fear and uncertainty that is suffered as a result. The show begins with a carnival-like spectacle before travelling amidst the streets of St Kilda to a half-way house. Along the way, the audience is introduced to various homeless individuals and the situations faced by them. The highlight of this production is the use and variety of multi-media platforms to reveal the realities of life on the streets and to hear the stories of those caught in this complex social issue. Sadly, I left this interactive show feeling somewhat empty, as if I had been misled. Perhaps my expectation of what I was about to witness was unrealistic but I was unaware that I would be seeing a ‘performance’ of homelessness. Unfortunately, the production as a whole felt too ‘staged’ and while there is value in utilising performers who have experienced homelessness first hand, this choice resulted in some amateur performances which were not aided by the limited script. Despite this, what was positive about this production is that it opened up the dialogue. As a collective, the audience walked away discussing what they had just witnessed, wondering about the real stories, who these people are and why are they in this predicament. And more importantly, what can be done about it? What role do we have to play in society to address this issue? At the end of the day, isn’t that what theatre is about?  If people increase their awareness and start talking about homelessness, learn to strip back their prejudices and ignorance, then Site Unseen is a success.    Site Unseen runs until 22nd October, 2011St. Kilda Triangle Car Park (next to the Palais Theatre)Lower Esplanade, St. KildaMelbourne, Victoria For further details and tickets www.siteunseen.com.au or www.melbournefestival.com.au

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