Intimacy is born in the strangest of places.
A new Ranters production by the brothers Cortese is set to make its debut at the Malthouse next month. Using the same cast as last year’s Affection (and seeming an extension of that show and the previous Holiday), but with a more focused or at least sellable premise. It’s based on the night when one of the creators’ friends stepped out of his Fitzroy St apartment to go strike up conversations with random strangers.
"We were interested in exploring the intimate connection that two strangers could find very quickly," says Director Adriano Cortese. "We were interested in how people ‘perform’ themselves. Interested in what happens when people feel very safe and start ‘performing’ their lives, not necessarily the details they speak about. Our friends reflect who we want to be; our acquaintances who we might become; our family what has made us. But only a stranger can reveal who we really are."
This seems to be the philosophy behind Ranters’ non-traditional method which is described as making the audience aware of its role in constructing the narrative. This method is integral to the group’s aim of developing a new style of theatre that is distinctly Australian, based on a stripped-back acting style. They aim for a style which is minimalist and non-representational, preferring to focus on the performer rather than the character. Theirs is not an obvious fictional demonstration to illustrate concerns, but rather a subtle and gentle meditation on the spaces between people, on the lives and histories that we carry around every day. Less always proves so much more, as the unexpected elucidates what it means to be connected to another person.
These aims are given perfect expression in Intimacy, which meditates on seemingly inconsequential observations and conversation as its protagonist steps out of his apartment with the sole aim of conversing with strangers. He wonders what our innermost needs and desires are and might these be revealed by his questions.
Intimacy was penned by the other Cortese brother, Raimondo, (who along with his brother is a founding member of Ranters) and it again captures that piece of reality that both brothers explore though their work – an observational piece on being human I guess.
"It’s just like everyday life," Raimondo Cortese says. "There might not be any conscious plot but a lot can happen between two people when they meet. Those small things are much more fascinating and a lot more revealing about who we are than any set plot."
There is a touch of voyeurism here but there must be – playwrights write about life – must be keen observers. Both brothers show a passion to uncover the connectedness between us -simple conversations can reveal so much.
"People in public always betray themselves when you watch them on a train," Cortese says. "You can easily find yourself thinking that you know just what is going on with the person opposite you in particular situations."
Venue: Beckett Theatre, CUB Malthouse, 113 Sturt St Southbank.
Opening Night: Thursday October 7, 7.30.
Season: October 1 – October 23.
Tickets: $23 – $49.
Booking info: www.malthousetheatre.com.au 9685 5111.