In Virtual Intimacy, queer hook-up culture goes under the microscope in a telling exploration of gay men, their relationship with technology and how identities are so often formed.
A collaborative project from Adelaide’s ActNow Theatre and Taiwanese company, Very Theatre, is a unique performance experiment exploring love, loss, coming out, and finding community through technology.
“This project is firstly an interrogation of my own and co-director Tung Yen- Chou’s experience of using these apps. But because we also wanted to look at queer communities, particularly gay men, we brought a group of community members into the project. Their involvement is an integral component because it’s not just our story, it’s a lot of people’s stories and we wanted to share these unique perspectives,” says co-director, Edwin Kemp.
Virtual Intimacy was developed through a series of workshops, asking queer community participants in Melbourne about their experiences of hook-up culture and how apps such as Grindr have changed the way in which gay men interact.
“The tension between hook up culture and the desire to have sex, with people’s emotional needs and sense of longing or desire to be in a relationship, I think a lot of people go through those tensions. I think apps like Grindr are always a really mixed bag, in regard to its emotional impact, people feel powerful or powerless, people feel a whole lot of different emotions when they are using these apps.”
While queer culture has arguably paved the way for mainstream society through a technology-based sexual liberation with the popularity of online dating and apps such as Grindr, Virtual Intimacy’s world is one of abundance and ambivalence and one which asks the audience to become active participants in the work.
“The performance asks the audience to use their phones to answer questions anonymously, in that way we have made a representation of the internet within the theatre, where everyone is able to comment and contribute to the show. It keeps the audience active, but it also asks them to reflect on their own experiences, even if they haven’t used dating or hook-up apps before, they’re still able to reflect on the way that the online world has affected their lives.”
Virtual Intimacy is being presented as part of Asia Topa Festival with a preview opening on Thursday 12 March, for more info or to book your tickets head to www.artscentremelbourne.com.au