OLD Customs House in Fremantle will be shrouded in myth and legend when Existence Theatre perform their atmospheric production The Witch and the Goat.
Couched in eerie sounds and mysterious video projections, the ensemble cast will perform an allegorical tale about humankind’s deepest fears, which often manifest themselves as mythical beings and monsters.
“The Witch and the Goat associates with typical fairytales by critically observing gender, class and nation and the consequences that ensue if you hide feelings and keep secrets,” says Existence Theatre co-founder and performer Elisabeth Eitelberger.
“It shows prosecutors and defendants, the dark side of people’s minds and actions and the longing for a life free from bias and judgement.
“Moral of the story: You can’t change things if you are driven by fear.”
For the past 20 years, Fremantle-based Eitelberger and Bello Benischauer have been collaborating on artistic projects in Australia and overseas.
Benischauer wrote, directed and created the video and sound for The Witch and the Goat.
During the performance he will synchronise live sound to the carefully choreographed movements and dialogue – conjuring up a preternatural forest and a bustling town square where folk gossip and dance to forgot about their woes.
“All our Existence Theatre works are about human existence, how existential questions, fears and crisis affect people individually and are played out in life,” Eitelberger says.
“The story for each production develops in present context while reacting to what people’s concerns are in the here and now.
“We create temporary ensembles, depending on the scope and theme, and work on each project over a period of six months.
“The Witch and the Goat brings together seven extraordinary talented performers including Emma Benischauer, Sarah Healy, Helah Milroy, Gala Shevtsov, Joey Valency and Bello Benischauer, who will enchant and mesmerise the audience in the beautiful Old Customs House.”
Existence Theatre has never been more relevant than during the Covid-19 crisis, when the world came face-to-face with the Grim Reaper and pondered its own mortality.
“The recent pandemic shows that even if we face the same issue, we experience it individually, because we come with different preconditions and are triggered by different things,” she says.
“With this piece we again want to raise awareness that showing our struggling and fears is a strength and not a weakness and that there needs to be an open dialogue.
“Supporting each other in sharing thoughts and feelings through our stories is utterly relevant to address the fear that affects the whole society.”
Part of Fringe World, The Witch and the Goat is at Old Customs House on Phillimore Street on January 15/16/22/23/29/30.
By STEPHEN POLLOCK