Ahead of Gecko's new show Institute coming here in March we asked Amit Lahav, their Artistic Director, a few questions.
More information and tickets for Institute here
Like Kafka’s Trial or films like Dogtooth, a dark reality where everything is controlled has inspired many artists. How did the idea of Institute start and what attracted you to a dystopian world?
I became interested in the idea of care, how we do and don’t care for each other with a sense that this is the right time to provoke such questions. I wanted to heighten the scale and potential for care, particularly between men, and somewhere along the line a very controlling, rules based institute emerged. With the back drop of bureaucracy and officialdom, the tender touch from one patient to another seemed all the more meaningful and necessary. As for Kafka, my work has often been linked to the great man and I must say that although I love and find his work inspiring, it’s without intention that the work resonates in such a way... maybe it’s our shared Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and love of magic realism that unconsciously draws in such imagery.
Women are physically excluded in Institute but very much present through their impact on one of the characters. Can you tell us a bit more about your decision on the role of women in this piece?
In early versions of Institute, I had a female performer in the process. It often emerged during improvisations that she would lead in many elements of care. After thinking this through between periods of development, I suddenly felt very strongly that I wanted to create an environment where men would be forced to deal with care and caring for those who were calling out for it - to see how men can treat pain and to explore the cruelty of men also. Ultimately the height of care emerges from the male patients themselves and this felt interesting and right to me.
The subject of ‘caring’, its possibility and limitation is ever-present in the show. As an audience member I left the auditorium emotionally charged, thinking about the characters. Was it your intention to provoke such strong feelings?
The strongest intention I have regarding how the audience leave the auditorium is that it will be internalised and personalised by each and every audience member. I find that people are attracted to the elements of the show which reflect important inner concerns or fascinations. Some people obsess specifically about care, how they have cared for someone who is sick, or they contemplate their own experiences of mental health or perhaps they most strongly consider the dystopian/officious world itself!
The characters suffer from loss and professional failure. Is this a reference to contemporary society? How did you choose these two specific themes?
These were the themes that emerged out of the process and ones I was drawn to specifically. As with all of the shows, I have to feel personally connected to the central ideas.
Questions by Anna-Maria Frastali, Communications Assistant