Thursday, 8 May 2008

"hadley's experiment" (chris johnston, livestock)

wednesday 7th may 2008

"hadley's experiment"
by chris johnston
presented by livestock
anton maiof ~ sound artist
chris johnston
harry thompson
nicola dane
directed by dale heinen
at the tudor room, old ship hotel
brighton fringe festival
livestock is a theatre and arts organisation exploring themes of mental health and related issues. its next project concerns motherhood.
based on a true account, this is the story of warren who wakes up one morning to find his life directed by imaginary gangsters that he can see and hear. these 'operators' lead him into a journey across country and into a different kind of life.

using sound and video, the company presents an almost unbelievable story of 'hearing voices' experience.
programme notes
the play is an original piece, however it is inspired by and very loosely based on a book by barbara o'brien entitled "operators and things". this book was published in the u.s. some time ago and recounts an extraordinary 'hearing voices' experience. we have tried to draw the essential discoveries from the book and re-present them in "hadley's experiment".
in our story, the central character, warren, discovers the existence of a previously hidden layer to human existence in which figures called 'operators' are active. 'operators' control human beings.
in the world of 'operators', certain terms are used to describe features of human life:
'stoning' ~ an action performed by one 'operator' on another to disable it
'latticework' ~ the part of the human brain used to record and memorise experience
'cowboys' ~ operators who go about trying to obtain contracts of 'things' illegally
'things' ~ human beings
'operators' ~ invisible agents who control human beings
'flies' ~ 'operators' in pursuit of causing stress to human beings
'operator council' ~ the governing body of operators
'open head' ~ a head opened by trauma or distress therefore visible to passing 'operators'
action cutting from back & forth from t.v. (video footage) and live as warren comes and goes from the car
also used for flashback story telling and to introduce other characters - wife, daughter, angry man and then the run to hide the sugar jar with the burned notebook leading to conway's attempt to get warren to throw himself under a train

suitcase full of things in plastic bags. and sand. and a sealed jar of sugar. and a dress for gwendolyn (blow up doll) and a jar of peanut butter. and a radio.

strong storytelling. reminiscent of matrix movies w'out the hi tech obviously)
great to see chris in action
unfortunately a tiny audience - must have been very hard to perform to.
problem with this for me was inconsistent focus - sometimes directly addressing us in audience sometimes played inside the 4th wall.
the best of it was the story. the less strong was becoming involved anyhow in warren's story or plight.

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