Without realising, I pass into the zone of a dangerous place…
Bare Witness, a new Australian play by Mari Lourey (Dirty Angels, The Bridge, Digging Into The Green Mountain, ) and directed by Nadja Kostich, will premiere at fortyfivedownstairs, as a special La Mama presentation, featuring a stellar cast including Isaac Drandic, Daniela Farinacci, Todd MacDonald, Adam McConvell and Maria Theodorakis.
Set in the Balkans, East Timor and Iraq, against the complex terrain of contemporary photojournalism, Bare Witness scrutinises the way we view our humanity – through the fragmenting lens of the media. Photographs, memories and dreams collide in a physical multi-media performance that follows a pack of complicated flawed characters who share the unbreakable bond of war journalists. Searching for the pieces of herself lost to years in the field, a young Australian woman is at a point when thrusting the camera between herself and her subjects ceases to protect her.
Bare Witness draws on the real life experiences of photo journalists and foreign correspondents in the war zones, roles which have become increasingly dangerous, while their moral validity is increasingly questioned.
Accuracy and a studious preciseness are important to Lourey – she is a writer who takes her time with her projects – Bare Witness began with very intense periods of research, writing and workshops about a year after the Iraq war began in 2003.
In the very early stages of writing, Lourey had a friend on the ground in Gaza who provided an authenticity and realism to her research.
“I was so intoxicated with this world of a war photo-journalist and the situations they are thrust into at a moment’s notice – who are these people who bring us these extraordinary images and why do they do it? ” she says.
Bear Witness follows Dannie, a young photojournalist from Australia, into several war zones and tracks her moral trajectory in the face of the atrocities she records.
“Journalists have the facility with words to convey the complexities, but photographers and cameramen work with imagery … the best images are metaphoric and theatre works with metaphor …what an amazing and difficult thing to explore on the stage, and it hasn’t been till now – Bare Witness will see this world explored on stage for the first time”
Lourey is a playwright with a background in theatre performance and music while director Nadja Kostich is an acting graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, making her mark as a director since 2001 when her debut production InsideOut,The power of multi-media in theatre is a deep rooted philosophy shared by both Lourey and Kostich which combined physical theatre with live music and video for 25 performers, received a Green Room award nomination for outstanding direction.
“I will score Bare Witness physically with a meld of images, sounds, songs and repetitive movements – there is a seeming chasm between this and the script that makes for an exciting tension, which mirrors the extremes the characters live in.” says Kostich.
Bare Witness received the 2005 R E Ross Trust Script Development Award and was shortlisted for the Patrick White Playwrights’ Award 2008. This powerful play offers a view of war unlike that of the mainstream media and can be seen at fortyfivedownstairs in September 2010.