IMMERSIVE theatre is an experience for all the senses and second year WAAPA Bachelor of Performing Arts student, actor and producer Leah Milburn-Clark invites audiences to sit on the stage and soak it all up in production Happy Days at War.
“The audience sits within reaching distance and there are smells, things to touch and some startling imagery,” Milburn-Clark said.
“In rehearsals, we use the analogy ‘if you witness a crime and don’t report it, you become an accessory to the crime’ and that’s exactly what we aim to impart on the audience; the sense that they are accomplices to the terror and the beauty that unfolds onstage.”
Happy Days at War follows a couple who find love and joy amidst the political turmoil of Germany in 1939, but signed to work for the Führer, the husband (played by Jay Peardon) must declare any affiliation with Jews or people with disabilities or impairments.
His wife (played by Milburn-Clark) is blind and her impairment deems her sub-human under the Nazi regime.
“Emotional torment takes over what was once a loving relationship as the husband’s morals are questioned and he must choose his country or his wife,” Milburn-Clark said.
“I am incredibly passionate about equal rights for the disabled and impaired, and believe the arts are a wonderful medium for building awareness.
“The setting, Germany 1939, is a period of history that I truly find scary. The ability of people in power to twist the minds of an entire country (through propaganda) to believe a certain race, and subsequently people with disabilities, were lesser beings chills me to the bone.
“We want to spark discussion about the ‘blindness of society’.”
Milburn-Clark, who will get academic credit for the show, said she dreamt of running her own theatre company, but not before travelling to London and New York.
“I have my eyes on some of the big immersive theatre companies there that are taking the world by storm,” she said.
“I would like to get caught up in their whirlwind.”
What: Happy Days at War
Where: Subiaco Arts Centre
When: September 30 to October 8