Blitz sat down with James Raggart, co-star of the play BLINK – a quirky, dysfunctional, voyeuristic love story, but a love story nonetheless.
Could you give us a brief summary of the play?
The play is about two young people from regional UK, who move to London for separate reasons. Through the use of a curious piece of technology – a baby monitor, they meet. They start a strange, virtual relationship, where one of them is watching, and the other is being watched on this screen. It becomes an exploration of what virtual love can mean. Eventually they meet in person and the idea of virtual love is compared to physical interpersonal relationships.
How is this play different to ones you’ve been in in the past?
The past few plays I’ve been in have been broad explorations of big meta-ideas. They were very dramatic, confusing and energising plays. This play is very gentle and very sweet. It’s an exploration of some really curious notions of love, and humanity. So it’s been a real pleasure to be involved in such an inviting play.
Given the couple’s reliance on technology, the interactions between you and Charlotte must be so different from conventional plays. Was there any difficulty in creating the disconnected-yet-connected feeling in your interactions?
The interesting thing about this play is that the two of us share the stage the entire time, but throughout most of the narrative we’re in separate universes. In a conventional play, often you’ll be interacting with the person you’re on stage with through dialogue and eye contact. For a lot of this play, we don’t actually interact with each other! We’re on the same stage, at the same time, but in the world of the play we’re in separate places. We don’t see each other or acknowledge each other’s existence, until we physically meet. It was a challenge, but it was also kind of fun because it allowed us to communicate with each other as performers rather than actors. It was a quirky and fun experience.
“Love is not a cast-iron set of symptoms. Love is whatever you feel it to be, even if it’s established through a baby monitor.”
How do you feel about the increasing role of technology in our lives?
Throughout this story, there is a focus on communication through technology. Technology can often be represented as scary or something bad, but I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily bad as it provides a huge scope for communication. We can turn on a screen and learn about what’s happening with people who are literally on the other side of the planet. On the other hand, these technologies also dilute our interpersonal relationships and our singular relationships in the real world. While technology can be really great, there is also a danger of minimising physical interactions – what was once our only means of interaction.
How do you think technology will influence relationships in the future?
I think the future of relationships and technology will be really interesting! We’re already starting to see the influence of technology in relationships through dating apps and things like that, so it might be a really positive thing in terms of starting relationships. In broader terms of technological communication, it might limit us in terms of how far or how deep we can take those relationships until we can actually physically meet each other.
There’s a lot of heavy themes in BLINK, from grief to loneliness. Does the technological focus change the way that these issues are portrayed and dealt with?
I don’t think so. It just provides a different perspective of the themes. It certainly questions all of the themes in the same way, but probes different questions about the influence of technology on them. For instance, we have these two people who are interacting in a very different way and dealing with their ideas of love and grief in different ways. If the inclusion of technology is a way for them to deal with them in a way that makes them happy and content, then who are we as people who might not enjoy those things to question whether they’re actually good or bad if they suit the people in the way they want to live their lives?
Why should people see BLINK?
At the end of the day, you come to see a play to be entertained. BLINK is one of those plays that’s entertaining and also makes you think. It’s a very soft and gentle way of exploring some very large themes. It’s an inviting play that will definitely make you think as you meet some quirky and sweet characters.
Ice blocks or ice cream on a hot day?
What are you obsessed with right now?
Slavoj zizek; he gives a psychoanalytical look at political things.
What single piece of technology would you bring to a zombie apocalypse?
A flamethrower would be useful.
What’s a gadget you can’t live without?
There is none.
What are you looking forward to?
Seeing where humanity ends up.
Dates: 9th February to 4th March 2017
Times: 8pm Tuesday to Saturday, and 5pm Sunday
Where: Kings Cross Theatre – 244-248 William St, Kings Cross
Tickets: $36 full; $30 Conc; $25 cheap Tuesdays