THE PHYSICS PROJECT – S/W/ITCHES (Amantha May and Leah Mercer)
The Physics Project is an interdisciplinary performance created by the bi-cultural team S/W/ITCHES, Leah Mercer (Australian) and Amantha May (American). Seeking to develop a basic understanding of physics through a forum relevant to theatre artists, May/Mercer conceived the project as an investigation of the relationship between art and science and its relevance to our everyday experience. The central protagonist of The Physics Project is Fiona M., an isolated and disconnected artist/scientist who, in seeking to define and make sense of life as she knows it, creates a story/experiment in which the operation of intelligence is viewed through the double lens of her imagination and physics. As a scientist, Fiona M. is compelled to test the fundamental principles that explain the relative and malleable nature of reality and how we seek, make and repel connections in those realities. As an artist, she needs to make sense of the emotions generated by these connections. Fiona M. discovers five characters whose identity is a direct result of their perception of time, space, matter and light (elements common to theatre and physics), and their relationships to other characters are determined by variables within these paradigms. As Fiona M. maps and analyzes the progress of these characters towards and away from one another, The Physics Project charts Fiona M.’s movement from an isolated individual to one who becomes aware of herself in the bigger world. This movement from disconnected to interconnected reflects the development in physics, from atomism – a type of extreme individualism that advocates understanding the world by splitting it up into its elements - to the more contemporary understandings of particles as essentially interconnected.
The work to be presented at Magdalena will have simultaneous showings in New York and Brisbane. Video conferencing technology will be used to connect the two performances and they will be narratively interdependent on one another. Interacting characters will be played by Americans in New York, Australians in Brisbane, some live, others digital, some alternating between these two states, allowing the different audiences to experience the narrative differently. Fiona M. will be seen to use the technology at her disposal, "controlling" the narrative in both countries.