a room with no air
a room with no air is the collaborative work of a group of contemporary theatre artists and internationally acclaimed composer Elena Kats-Chernin. Regina Heilmann and Deborah Leiser-Moore are two first generation Australians linked by their cultural histories. German gentile and Polish Jew, they struggle to understand and unhinge the terrible dynamic which is their legacy. They probe beneath the surface of what they know to expose the paradoxes of their relationship. They reveal the tragic and complex repercussions of violence perpetrated by one culture on another and its impact on future generations.
The performers weave together a series of disturbing and at times comical images and tensions. Moving between memory, nightmare and domesticity they confront each other with their opposing perspectives in an attempt to break the silence. The work is highly charged physically and vocally, is both lyrical and brutal, eschews naturalism and narrative but has a strong, clear dramaturgical spine. It poses many questions that speak to audiences now. While we take as our creative impulse our personal cultural histories, the work connects with the palpable political tensions that have surfaced in Australia - and no doubt throughout the world.
Until we can face the unbearable in our own lives,what was done despite us,
then we have no hope of perceiving,let alone understanding,
the horrors or simple suffering visited on another.
We decided to make a performance work that would draw on our skills and experience as contemporary theatre practitioners and take as its creative impulse our ‘shared cultural history’. Although we were both born in Australia a generation after the terror of Nazism and the Holocaust, we were acutely aware of the painful and difficult terrain that linked us. In making this work we wanted to confront the uneasy silence that we had inherited and shake up the German/Jewish dynamic of perpetrator/victim which obstructs the healing process. In our creative process with Director Nikki Heywood we have endeavored to move beyond the stalemate, to listen to each other, raise unfathomable questions and finally to make a performance work together.
Performance Space, Sydney
APAM at Adelaide International Arts Festival
Magdalena Aotorea International Arts Festival,
University of Western Sydney
Belvoir St Theatre,
Sydney Olympics Arts Festival