My apartment – an observation by Rebeka Kunej

ŠD Tabor Hall, August 29, 2021 at 8:00 p.m.

I left my apartment with a purse on my shoulder, car keys in one hand and a digital COVID certificate and mask in the other. Such a ritual of checking the PCT (vaccination, negative test or recovery) certificate and mask before leaving home has become a norm; it is a relatively new ritual for the audience who wants to see a live show in these strange times – when they are allowed to see it at all in the last year. OK, I was ready to go see Ine Ubben’s My Apartment.

Arrival at the venue: checking the list of visitors and their COVID certificates and waiting on the waiting on the staircase in front of the entrance at a suitable distance. Chitchatting in front of the entrance to the venue, which in this case was actually a gymnasium, soon turned out to be an overture to the show. The main protagonist of the outdoor chatting – at that time, still without masks – soon transformed into the central character of the solo performance.

When she invited us inside, the sparse audience turned into more or less engaged spectators who helped to co-create the show. We participated – by then, already behind the masks and sitting at a sufficient distance from each other at the edge of the gym – as much as we could in these strange times and wanted to give the unknown strangers in the audience a glimpse into our own apartment. And above all, the audience co-created the performance by imitating the sounds surrounding the performer’s apartment.

Ine Ubben took us to her Prague apartment, illustrated with chalk on the black floor, with some rare items from her backpack and the sounds that surround her apartment. We learn more about the sounds of her neighbours who surround her and co-create the soundscape of her residence than about her apartment. Her interactions with her neighbours are non-contact, auditory, unlike the objects in the performance that the performer touches and connect her with distant and loved ones – parents, grandparents and friends. What a parallel to a reality that prefers contactless operation and interactions through barriers/walls – physical, virtual and mental!

This time, the virtual barrier and the age of the epidemic prevented the performance from building an even more open relationship between the audience and the protagonist, who – admittedly – did a good job engaging the somewhat sleepy and at times apathetic audience to make more authentic (contactless and mental) contact during the hour-long performance. The performance left a mark on the audience, much like her shining summer red dress that brought energy to the poorly lit hall with spotlights. Energetic, radiant, relaxed. All the more so because culture is that something extra that gives you a boost time and again in your own life in these strange times, once you overcome the comfort of your own apartment and finally go see the play, despite all the restrictions.

Rebeka Kunej