A performance for 360 degree film, using immersive projection technology to offer an experimental way to present performances beyond the live moment.

Originally commissioned for  ‘In The Round’  performance programme, curated by Rose Lejeune and presented at Abu Dhabi Art Fair 2020, UAE 19–26 November and Pi Art, London, UK, 9–11 December. In collaboration with BroomX.

Ballad of Simple Woman, production still, 2020

Alice Theobald’s Ballad of Simple Women centres around two mismatched women: one a contemporary professional-type, and one a 1970’s Bohemian-type in a long, flowing yellow dress. They are archetypes from different times, different worlds, who find themselves together in a futuristic, bullring-style theatre.Inspired by the Meisner Technique, an acting technique where participants influence and change one another through structured improvisation and repetition, Ballad of Simple Women is part of Theobald’s ongoing exploration into the nature of performance itself and the desire for authenticity as subject matter. How do we aspire to authenticity and sincerity and then, how do we perform it? Utilising the 360 degrees of the theatre-in-the-round, and the limitations of the human experience, Theobald places the viewer in the middle of the scenario. The two actresses interact with one another through the viewer who is simultaneously offered all angles and viewpoints and yet is denied ever being able to see it all at once.The two characters recite four observational phrases to one another: “You seem well”; “You’re glowing”; “You’re judging me”; “You’re mad”. We see how the weight, meaning and interpretation, as well as the power dynamics between the two characters, shift through the changes in delivery, expression and emphasis on words. Theobald points towards the judgment and thresholds of pathology and temperament, the representation of women and madness in fiction and their contemporary manifestations in society - of the pressures to seem well if not actually be well. Here, acting is seen as a culturally legitimate form of lying in life as well as in the theatre.

Ballad of Simple Woman, 360 degree film, 10 minutes

Performers: Alice Theobald, Penny Klein and Victor Jakeman
Music score: Alice Theobald
Sound: Oliver Jennings
Film and editing: Dominic Dowbekin

Ballad of Simple Woman, production still, 2020