Too close to home

‘Aptly, the entry ticket to the Port Arthur site is a playing card. Each visitor is given a one at random and invited to ‘find the convict’ who corresponds with it.’


I wonder what immersive theatre fans make of sites / experiences like the Port Arthur Historic Site? I think it feels too close to home for me – the tragedy and weight of the history there – I think I’d find it hard to slip into the receptive, playful mindset that’s my norm for shows like Sleep No More and Then She Fell. Or, if I did, I think I’d feel guilty about doing so.

I remember my first trip back to Tasmania after the Port Arthur massacre. I was on the boat from the mainland to Tasmania and as we neared land large groups of passengers (and me) stood looking quietly out the windows. For a minute or two there was no excited – end of a long trip, start of a holiday or return home – buzz. Just quiet. I wouldn’t have known what to say then. I don’t know what to say about it now.

I had been to the Port Arthur Historic Site prior to those events and I recall being uncertain how to respond then as well. I was getting a lot of ‘entertainment’ cues from the Site and I remember feeling awkward because I didn’t know how to balance enjoyment of that theatre with a consciousness and respect for the Site’s history.

Actually, I’m feeling a bit like that again now because this is not where I meant to go with this post. I was just interested in the entry ticket / playing card cross-over between Port Arthur and Sleep No More and the general direction that heritage and museum spaces are taking (which is explored in the RealTimeArts article linked above).

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