How to be close in a world that asks us to be distant

Belconnen Arts Centre 20 October 2020
Noa Rotem

Noa Rotem for Intimacy. Photo: Supplied.

Intimacy – a new production from Belco Artscombines the skills of three renowned and unexpected collaborators in a fun, tender and sensitive investigation into what it takes to be intimate.

Starting off as strangers, three multi-disciplinary performers – Jazida, Noa Rotem and Adam Deusien, collaborating with designer Tiffany Abbott – will accompany the audience through all the paradoxes of getting closer. Using the awkward and the beautiful, the audacious and the tender, the silly and the sublime, the cabaret-style show asks the question: how can we be intimate in a world that asks us to be distant?

Performer Noa Rotem explains what intimacy means to her.

“Intimacy is moving through life in a way that allows for genuine contact to be made. How do we create conditions that enable the experience of truly seeing and being seen? Do we need to slow down to be truly touched by an encounter? These are some of the questions that come up for me around the idea of intimacy.”

Adam Deusien says he is looking forward to the show being a deeper and richer answer to the question of intimacy.

“I always find the process of making a work to be a confrontation of what I already believe or what I assume, and there’s always personal as well as artistic discovery.”

Though Intimacy is not specifically focused on the events of 2020, Jazida says this year has changed her understanding of intimacy

“I often connect physically and 2020 meant that I had to come up with a lot of new and creative ways to connect without being able to physically touch.”

A woman with blue velvet gloves and blue tassel earrings leans against a mirror in a darkened space

Jazida for Intimacy. Photo: Captivitae Photography.

Noa agrees. “This year has exposed the intimacy that comes with knowing that ‘we are all in it together’, and at the same time, amidst the flurry of online interactions, it is clear there is a gaping need in many people’s lives for physical intimacy. No amount of screen time can replace the biological need for a hug, for simply being together.”

The three artists were unfamiliar with each other prior to this project, and in some cases, physically distant, so developing the intimacy and connectedness required for a successful creative development was a challenge.

The trio decided to meet regularly on Zoom in the months leading up to rehearsals, and spent their time weaving in practices that they hoped would build genuine intimacy between them. From posing a series of personal questions to little performances for each other, the group says they tried a whole smorgasbord of activities. With only eight days in the studio together before they hit the theatre, they say the online activities allowed their chemistry to emerge.

“It’s certainly been a great way to build relationships and develop the project as best we can from afar. We also used a Miro board, so we could all interact with a mind map and add Post-It Notes as we thought of things,” Jazida said.

The trio hopes audiences will walk away feeling entertained and with a sense that real connection happened and with a reminder that we are hardwired for kindness and connection.

I am hoping the work will be a gift for them,” Adam said.

“A hug with a friend, an encounter with a stranger, visits with loved ones far and near, have all been suspended this year, and hopefully we make a work that feels just like all of them. I hope that we are able to stand in place of the intimacy we, as a society, have missed this year.”

Intimacy premieres at Belconnen Arts Centre’s Theatre and runs from 22 to 23 October. For more information and tickets, visit Belco Arts.


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