Thursday, July 14, 2005

Pan Pan's One

Why would anybody become an actor? It’s a dog’s life, innit? Endless auditions, mostly leading either to nothing, or a couple of weeks of bad pay. And if that weren’t enough, when it all goes well, you get a gig, a little steady money, and a sense of doing some good work, then those bitter, know-nothing critics start spilling their bile all over you. Sheesh!

The question of why exactly anyone would choose this lifestyle is what Pan Pan explore in their latest intriguing show, One, which is subtitled “Healing Through Theatre”.

One will be performed in a set featuring one hundred little rooms. Inside each room, one of 100 actors will explain to one member of the audience why exactly they became an actor. The actor may also perform their favourite audition piece, if you’re lucky. Which actor you get to spend time with will be decided at random.

It all sounds rather, well, Amsterdam, doesn’t it?

“Well, I think it’s more like a little soothing ritual,” says actor Brendan Conroy, one of the hundred actors who will perform the show. “It will be funny to work there, without the protection of the lights. And for the audience, I suppose, they’ll also be without the protection of being separated from the actor.”

Conroy’s own involvement with the project began when the crew from Pan Pan called around to his house to begin collecting material for the book and film that accompany the project.

“They came and looked around our house, and picked a room to film in – some people chose the bathroom, the kitchen, wherever – and then began filming as we talked about why we became actors.”

Those films, captured in the actors’ homes, surrounded by their own possession, have been edited into a film, which is currently showing nightly at Meeting House square (at 10pm). There is also a book. But the Digital Hub element of the project, when the “healing” part happens live and direct, is easily the most intriguing

“There is no way to be an actor without suffering a bit of pain. There is much more rejection in the acting business than there is in any other profession, I think,” says Conroy. “People develop there own ways of dealing with that, it’s really sometimes remarkable to see an actor go onstage after a review has just taken the earth from under his feet and perform like it never happened.”

Feedback on each actor’s work in One may be even more rapid – and more market-orientated – than usual. As audience members are assigned their performer at random, Conroy can imagine an active market opening up.

“Can’t you see it? There’ll be a lot of trading off. Y’know ‘I’ll give you twenty-five Euro for her…’”

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