The Lounge Room Confabulators in The Age

Added on by Stuart.
John Bailey
With his suitcase at the ready, travelling performer Stuart Bowden at Fitzroy’s La Niche Cafe. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

SOME nights you just want to curl up on the couch and order in. But today, the choice of stay-at-home fare is not just between Indian or Thai. Now, you can get live theatre home-delivered.
Last week, two Melbourne lads won the Underbelly Edinburgh Award at the Adelaide Fringe Festival: a prize of £7000 ($A11,460) and a season at one of the most coveted venues in the world's largest festival. One hitch: they don't perform in theatres; they perform in your lounge room.
Stuart Bowden is one half of the Lounge Room Confabulators and says that producing a show in a stranger's home carries a ''massive risk''. There's no location scouting: the first time he sees his space is when the performance begins.

Every time we do a show there's the potential for things to go horrifically wrong,'' he says. ''But then there's also the potential for things to be magical. We were more excited about the possibility of things going really well as opposed to ending up cable-tied together in someone's basement.’’

Once Bowden and his collaborator Wil Greenway hit upon the lounge room idea, the show began to flower. ''We realised the potential of what a lounge room can be in terms of storytelling.'' Bowden says. ''We started thinking about the stories that people tell each other in lounge rooms. Ghost stories or silly stories or stories from their day.''
The result is a tale of two haunted souls cursed to travel from lounge to lounge, repeating their tale each night. It's a carefully crafted story that careens from farting wombats to eyes gouged out with ice-cream scoops, but much of its success lies in the way it is shaped by each night's new surrounds. Lamps become theatre spotlights, couches front-row seats.
One benefit of lounge theatre is its accessibility to people who can't get to more typical venues - those with disabilities, the elderly, or anyone who can't be bothered getting off the couch.
There can be hiccups. Bowden recalls a performance accompanied by a crying baby and the soundtrack to Fantasia. The risk, he says, is worth it: ''It could be a terrible show but it could be one of those shows that changes people, changes the way they think about their home, about storytelling, about performance in general.’’

Date: March 20th 2011
Written by: John Bailey

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