Singled Out

4 Oct

I had a friend, who desperately needing to get somewhere, stole a car. I don’t know where it was he was so keen to go, but unless his desired destination was Goulburn Correctional Facility, his decision proved an unwise one.

When he was released, I asked what it had been like. Apparently, apart from the obvious fact he couldn’t leave, the experience wasn’t so bad. Free food. Free accommodation. The only problem? The company. “I had to spend a whole year of my life with a bunch of criminals,” he said.

Other people.

They’re a challenge.

And increasing numbers of us are choosing to live alone.

Why we are choosing this, and what are its consequences, is the subject matter of Augusta Supple’s Singled Out.

Josipa Draisma in Grace De Morgan's "Ikea". Photo by Marnya Rothe

Josipa Draisma in Grace De Morgan’s “Ikea”.
Photo by Marnya Rothe

Supple has pulled together a brilliant team of writers and actors. In a series of playlets, this team explores the phenomena from multiple angles. It makes for a fascinating night of theatre. There’s powerfully delivered monologues, cute puppetry and some good laughs.

I don’t write reviews. I write about what theatre makes me think about.

This production made me think about solipsism – the belief that other people don’t really exist.

It made me think this because the choice to live alone smacks strongly of a desire to avoid others. I make no moral judgement. In fact, I’m going to argue the opposite of what you might suppose.

Solipsism, or the question of whether other people actually exist, is a fascinating philosophical issue. I don’t mean it’s interesting in the sort of silly way, that as an undergraduate student, I cut my teeth on arguments about whether the chair I was sitting on was actually there. It’s interesting because it asks me to question how seriously I take the proposition that other people are independent of me and hence equal to me.

The acceptance of the actual existence of others is the great ethical challenge.

A clever monologue begins Singled Out. Performed by Roland Baker and written by Luke Carson, it cheekily asks what are the economic ramifications of the trend to single living. People are reduced to dollars.

It’s only too easy to reduce those around us, both locally and globally, to something less than human. Other people become extras in our private movie, tin soldiers in our conflicts, annoying randoms in the crowd. We don’t take them, or their needs, seriously.

Accepting that other people are independent of us (that is, real) doesn’t mean we’re isolated from them. In fact, the contrary is the case. Acceptance of true otherness is how a relationship begins. Otherwise it’s just exploitation. Or neglect. I can only understand someone else’s needs when I actually listen to them and not merely play games with the toy version of them I have in my head.

The decision to live alone is an assertion of independence. It’s also a potent symbol for an authentic life, the beginning point where both ourselves and others are given the space to be acknowledged and appreciated as individuals.

It was an exciting theatrical decision for Augusta Supple to explore the concept of living alone, and with an engaging and no doubt deliberate irony, the result is stimulating examination of our relationship with others.

Veronica Kaye

Singled Out

Seymour Centre til 12 Oct

Writers: Vanessa Bates, Wayne Blair, Sarah Carradine, Luke Carson, Emma Magenta, Grace De Morgan, Tim Spencer, Alli Sebastian Wolf

Performers: Amanda Stephens Lee, Bali Padda, Rosie Lourde, Josipa Draisma, Leofric Kingsford -Smith, Amber McMahon, Roland Baker, Eloise Snape, Richard Cox, Alex Bryant-Smith, Paul Armstrong and Kate Fitzpatrick

One Response to “Singled Out”

  1. Gina October 6, 2013 at 2:12 am #

    Solipsism. Good word. I guess I am a Solipsist. 😛

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