“A TOUR DE FORCE OF IMMERSIVE THEATRE – Passenger transports you into a parallel reality that transforms the normalcy of a home city into a thronging surreal cinema-scape that is part Truman show, part Western Noir.” (Arts Hub 2017)
Passenger is a critically acclaimed theatre work, which places its audience inside a moving suburban bus. The audience are taken on a 1 hour-long journey, returning to their same pick up location after the end of the show.
Premiered in 2017 in Melbourne as a presentation of Arts Centre Melbourne and Footscray Arts Centre, Passenger was designed to be re-mapped onto different cities.
Exploring a parallel between screen media and vehicle travel, Passenger seeks to influence our interpretation of the real world by framing the streets and the life within them as a filmic landscape. Passenger succeeded in what was a theatrical experiment. We asked ourselves, “Could we use music and dialogue to lull our audience into a particular kind of gaze into the real world, such that they might alter their very understanding of it?”
Passenger sets up its urban environment – a built up financial district – as the frontier of a market-driven economy – and the perfect setting for a modern-day Western. We reference Western films where a cowboy seeks to ‘right’ a ‘wrong’ that the law cannot properly rectify, with a vigilante style female character seeking retribution.
In a familiar conversational style, two onboard strangers discuss the ethics of contemporary life. The audience overhear their conversation through on board speakers. Engaged in a heightened ‘searching’ in the outside landscape, they are witness to a rapid shift in style. When the woman reveals her true identity and purpose – to hold him accountable for the wrongs of his corporate employer, the conversation heightens, the bus drives off course into a derelict urban fringe zone. The tow characters disembark, a horse and shadowy female rider gallop past, the bus turns circles around them, and an epic soundtrack fills the bus. The audience suddenly feel like they are sitting inside a film framed by the windows of the bus.
“A final sequence so spectacular it seems almost unreal that you are witnessing it live.” (Australian Stage 2017)
“A brilliantly crafted story that thrusts you into a kind of live‐action cinematic experience and artfully blurs the line between reality and fiction, leading you to regard the external world with ecstatic suspicion.” (Arts Hub 2017)