Home of the not so brave
Stories from apartment number 12
Home of the not so brave is the second instalment of our multi-year project, recounting the story of a single apartment.
Before we get into a description of the second instalment, we would like to say some words about the first one. Part 1, It’s Always Sunny in Vienna failed to resonate with large parts of our audience. Our attempt to tell the story of a single apartment building in 4 separate time lines, with minimal connection between the stories and without an overall arc that ties the plot together, left the viewers cold and unable to develop either an emotional or intellectual connection to the piece. We wanted to create a theatrical photo album of the city where each scene depicts another historical period of Vienna. We asked the viewers to put the different photos together but they couldn’t find an entry, a connection thread.
So, in part 2 we will attempt to create a different time line and a more tight connection between the various story lines. We will also dispense with the parallel and the filmic fast cuts of the first part to a more continuous and less fragmented plot.
The premise is still the same — how to tell the story of a city via the account of one apartment building over a long period. But for part 2 we will concentrate on one apartment and the different residents that occupied this apartment through the years. Instead of the 4 apartments that we had in the part 1 we will have just one. And instead of 4 actions, going on simultaneously and intercutting into one another, we will have one scene at a time with some narration text that will connect the various scenes and give an overall context to the full show.
So imagine an apartment on the third floor, number 12, 98 m2. In 1970 a lesbian couple occupies the apartment. The couple lives in secret, its 1970 Vienna and the city is fairly conservative and not yet ready for same-sex couples. We move to 1990. The apartment is rented to a psychoanalyst who runs a successful practice.
A chance encounter with one of the building’s residents leads to a therapy session. The resident is a woman in her late thirties and she talks to the analyst about her marital difficulties. We jump to 2016. A man in his early forties rents the place. He hires a call girl and asks her to dress like the character Princess Leia from the film Star Wars. A conversation starts when she arrives to his apartment.
In between the different scenarios/stories the apartment’s decor changes according to the specific style of the given time, and a narrator gives the viewers the historical context of the period presented in the scene. The narrative text will include facts like rent prices, economic and social details of the city, but also a text that relates to the mood in the city in those same time periods, political/artistic/gossip.
As you can see from the few examples we gave, part 2 will deal mainly with love, relationships, and the difficulties of living together in the big city. The thread between the scenes is both a physical one (people who live in the same space) and a thematic one (people who experience difficulties connecting with others).
The show will have a semi-linear structure. We will move from past to present with some back and forward jumps to certain scenes or time periods.
The performers will play more than one character each and will share the role of the narrator. The idea is not to assign one character per performer but to create a sense of continuity via the different characters each performer portrays, as if a woman from 1970 reappears as another woman in 2000. All the costume changes will be done live and in front of the audience allowing the viewers to see the period changes in the classical sense of “getting into the character”.
In our proposal for part 1 we wrote:
“In a way, what we are trying to do with this way of working is to open a communication channel to the audience, building the story as we go along while taking into consideration the audience’s reaction to some story lines. We are writing the story with Viennese audience, in the city of Vienna, as the years pass-by, reflecting the changes within the city and the local political climate.”
Our audience spoke and we listened. Part 2 is our attempt to take the reactions and rewrite the show into a more approachable performance.
We titled the first audience showing we did It’s Always Foggy in Vienna. The new title is: Home of the not so brave.
The main set piece will feature an empty room. 3 standing walls, no ceiling. Some basic features will be added to the room and will stay throughout the entire show. In addition, every scene will get a different look and decor based on the historical style of the time presented.
The changes will be done live and in front of the audience while the narrative text is delivered by one of the performers.
The set should look like a box full of surprises. Pieces of furniture will move in and out of the room through the walls, and up and down the open ceiling, all the time making sure that the audience realise that it is the same apartment.