FREYA: What does privacy look feel and sound like – Reetta

Reetta’s pure essence

Watching Reetta’s presentation you see a glimmer of Reetta as she really is, pre performance.  A private moment of the actor captured.  The moment before ‘going on’, when you don’t know for sure what will really happen as there is audience involvement and it all depends on how they accept your proposals, react and interact.  Making sure you’re ready, in Reetta’s case: props, costume, makeup and music – not too high / not too low.  Had the audience interrupted Reetta’s pre-set up, she would have had a momentary loss of control of the illusion she wished to create.

To create a character, you shift from the person as you are, into something other; creating an image of what you want people to see.  Getting into that state; i.e. another state, you need to shift physically, emotionally and use breath to gain another’s vibration – so that you can become an other than your usual self.  In theatre you want the portrayal of the other to be as honest as possible for it to truly work; in essence for a short period of time tricking the audience to believe that you are an other, feeling emotion for your character: laughing, crying or cringing on their behalf.  The characters behalf that is, not on your own behalf, because if its on your behalf, you will be a bad actor.

So, back to Reetta’s performance, she is fortunately a very good actor.  I first knew of her at Ecole de Mime Corperal, she   frequently performs, sometimes creates small intimate showings of work in progress, which are worth capturing if you can.

Going up the stairs for the presentation, sea shells are laid out, giving us the sense of entering into another setting, a rather Alice in Wonderland’ish world, Reeta is sitting inside a suitcase with all kinds of odds and ends around her, looking in the mirror at herself or it could be at us.  Who is looking at who? Yes that is a great question in general.

She invites us in to her world, allowing us to look around, adjusting her image to become more blonde, more coquettishly feminine and closes her eyes for us to view her.  She creates an image for us, as we would create an image of ourselves, if we posted a photo of ourselves on-line.  Our photos display sentiment, space,  how and where we’re at.  They basically show how we generally are doing in life. With our image posted on-line, we then go and do something else quite different, like eat our dinner, or go to sleep, whatever, while someone we may or not know is viewing an image of us somewhere.  Who and where depends on the privacy settings: did you click the right click button for this? Did you forget?  Well it’s too late now.   Do you know how to set them?  Or do you really not care if an image of you is out there in Cyberspace, for anyone to look at somewhere or other.  Maybe you intended for it to be out there, we can now all be famous far beyond Andy Warhol’s predictions.

Reetta sets out to control her images and control us, she feels better if we are further away from her.  People generally feel safer to reveal something about themselves if they are in their own space and can’t see the receiver of the information – it’s that kind of cozy feeling when you sit on the sofa with your favourite tea mug.  We have a cozy sense of control, which can rapidly lead into revealing more personal details.  Swapping tea for wine generally helps speed up this process.

From her space inside the suitcase, Reetta sets out to control our volume, the amount of questions she wants to answer and then gives vague guidelines, promising to reveal all but holds back for a while, that is – until she feels more comfortable with it and us.  She gives information that is loaded as well as revealing by showing a special ring from 2005, sharing her intimate dream and her photo book.

As an audience member who was in full complicity with the happening, the question in my mind was, are those photos real?  Did she really dream that? Who is this person, why has she got a wig and masses of makeup on?  What is she hiding?  Does she just want to be someone different sometimes? (like I do)  Or is she some crazy lunatic? (not like me)  Why would anyone want to share with strangers that they dreamt of being a lampshade?  Could it be to entertain their Psychiatrist? Or attempt to create the impression that they are a really crazy, wonderfully funny person?  Or maybe  she actually dreamt the dream and is reporting on the event?

How do people see us?  How do people perceive us?  How do we know what people really think about us?  It actually feels quite good when someone ‘likes’ what I’ve said or ‘likes’ a photo of me posted on Facebook.  Wow! Somebody out there likes me / what I do, somebody out there actually cares.  I think I love my friends that like me.

Why is it that we so want to be liked?  Why is this important?  Do some of us rely on this to top up our self-esteem?  Does my self-esteem actually rely on being ‘liked’ by at least seven Facebook friends every day? Is there an addiction to be liked on-line?  Am I a like-me-addict? If this is so, is this because nobody really says they like us face to face, or at least not very often, or enough.  Why is it that we don’t tell people more often that we like them when we are face to face?  Is it that we forget, or is it the fear of rejection and embarrassing ourselves?  It could be a much simpler answer than that, in the case of us Europeans it could be that we actually think that telling people that we like them, sounds awfully *American?  *(Apologies to all Americans)

I wonder, how much time we spend on trying to be liked on-line?  One day someone whose Facebook entries I didn’t like much, put as her Facebook status: ‘I’m feeling sad today, does anybody like me?’  I felt sad for her, as I thought not many people would, and for a fraction of a second I thought I might press ‘like’, then changed my mind thinking I should instead be really honest and type in ‘dislike’.  In the end I did none of that, just checked on the status later during the day and found out at the end that 22 people out there actually liked her.  How interesting.  Then she de-friended me.  I still feel a bit uncomfortable about this episode.

It can be interesting to observe others’ personal life, see all their pictures and follow their emotional turmoil.   As friends in real life we may never see them again,  maybe we never met them in the first place.  Some of our friends on line may  be fictitious characters.  Whatever they are we can enjoy being a fly on their wall for the rest of our shared Cyber life. It really appeals to one’s sense of voyeurism, which is what watching theatre is all about.

The set up of private information and the privacy settings on-line is excellent for non-theatre going voyeur-addicts; they no longer need to stand behind the bushes in the rain to satisfy themselves by peeking at others.  They can now sit comfortably on their sofa with their mug of tea and find personal pleasure in capturing our private moments from the safety of their own home.

Next week I’ll be writing about Jonathan Young’s presentation.