Welcome to the New Year and my daily blog about PUMP Theatre’s upcoming performances of SNUG|VENT at Testing Grounds on 14 February 2014 and at Adelaide Fringe 8-9 March 2014.
By writing this blog each day I hope to give you some insight into my creative process and a deeper understanding of SNUG|VENT in its role of establishing dialogue about the effects of violence in the community.
This play explores the feelings often experienced by victims, bystanders and perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse. The narrative is written in ‘staccato’ semi-absurdist style to punctuate the sliding scale of emotions from anxiety to paranoia to deviance.
The experience of dealing with conflicting emotions is confusing. Often the actions that result from those feelings cause erratic, spontaneous and nonsensical behaviour. Retreating to a ‘safe house’ or protecting territory gives some sense of momentary security. Freezing or flying from fear may be other options to find safety. Manipulating others to get the safety you need is also another option. All of these options are explored by the characters in SNUG.
Comfort versus safety
In my view, to feel ‘snug’ is to feel not only safe, but warm, nurtured and comfortable in your own skin. In theatre we often use the term ‘catharsis’ to describe the transformational journey of characters in the play. In SNUG we see three very scared and insecure humans trying to find ways to feel some sense of comfort in the midst of witnessing acts of violence outside their window, or played back through their own memories of violence. The characters are trying to transform or control their feelings of fear and anxiety, their memories of violence and create a better existence for themselves – it’s a survival mechanism – survival of the fittest – or survival of the vulnerable.
Witness or bystander?
The characters do not have names – as they simply embody the emotion and the roles of victim, bystander and perpetrator. However, in this moment I would like to replace ‘bystander’ with ‘witness’. ‘Witness’ is more empowering than ‘bystander’ in my view. The bystander watches in silence, but a witness sees the violence and with the knowledge of the offence – takes action, whether passively, assertively, or as an interventionist. The term ‘bystander’ (in my view) seems to provide an ‘out’, a fence to sit on, or an option to ‘do nothing’. Witness however, being a legal term really promotes a sense of justice and citizenship.
In conclusion both SNUG|VENT really examine whether bystander intervention is really providing alternatives to the cycle of violence, or whether it prolongs the pain and suffering of the experience.
In the play VENT is Bella a witness or a bystander?
What role does the audience play in the performance of SNUG|VENT? Are they bystanders or witnesses? Victims? Perpetrators?
What role does PUMP Theatre play is presenting this work to the community?
See you tomorrow.
Director, PUMP Theatre