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June 18, 2011

Image courtesy of Luminato

With the abundance and prevalence of surveillance in our city and the world in general today, you would think that we as citizens would be immune to its influence. Not so. The tables have now been turned as we have now have a chance to act as webcam and viewer.  Just take for example David Levine’s installation/performance piece “Habit”, staged at OCAD as part of the Luminato festival.

 Expecting to arrive at the Great Hall and witness another boring and inane web-cam show on a large monitor, was not the case. Instead, a few others and I stumbled onto a live theatrical performance taking place in a pre-fabricated and fully functioning two bedroom house. Functioning in every way from working stereo, kitchen sink and bathroom shower. Three actors co-exist as roommates in this panopticon of sorts, inhabiting a chaotic and messy abode in the midst of, or at the end of, one hell of a Halloween party. 

What ensues is live theatre, reality TV, voyeurism and high melodrama at its most extreme. Spectators are drawn in and are participatory at the same time, able to move around the outside of the house freely while the drama unfolds. Able to part the sheer curtains on the windows and stick your head in to get a better view, you are at once connected yet strangely alienated at the same time. You are a willing witness, yet feel utterly creepy for intruding on this space as a peeping Tom or Thomasina. The two males and one female are keenly focused on their script by Jason Grote, but are free to navigate their blocking to their own desires for a ninety minute loop, eight hours each day. They masteryly do not acknowledge the audience and yet are able to ignore all of the outside noise and intrusive distraction to deliver one hell of a performance. Not to give away any of the story but suffice it to say, I saw more in forty-five minutes of viewing than I would see in any soap opera. Go see for yourself. 

Be forewarned however, it does include mature content, violence and nudity. Yes, nudity. I was so close to the action at one point that I was splashed by the water from one of the male actors washing, in yes, that functioning shower! 

What Habit does is take the voyeur in all of us, up-end it and shove it right back in our face. Who needs a web-cam anymore when you can now see the action up close and personal.

Habit runs at OCAD until Sunday June 19th, 11 to 7.

Watch a YouTube snippet:

From → Week of June 13

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