(in)VISIBLE 3.12

Together we made (in)VISIBLE 3.12 in six feet apart.

(in)VISIBLE 3.12, created by assistant professor Yoon Bae, expresses our experience and emotion during the pandemic. The work was filmed on the weekend, which commemorated the 200th day since the theatres were closed on March 12th.

"There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.” (Silence: Lectures and Writings by John Cage)

Back in the spring, Yoon Bae designed the set for House of Joy, a new play written by Madhuri Shekar (Lanford Wilson Award & Amazon movie, Evil Eye’s) at San Diego Repertory Theatre, California. On the opening night of the show, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic. Before there was time to enjoy the success of opening the show, it closed. Instead of reviews, Yoon received an urgent email from the producers, a temporary suspension notification with immediate effect. After months of design work, weeks of construction and painting, rehearsals, and collaboration, the production had abruptly shut in one performance. On the same day, Broadway theatres and other live events in the United States also closed.

The title (in)VISIBLE 3.12 reflects and explores what happened to the ‘Space’ in theatre and our lives. Yoon's work begins by asking about our perception of performance, of the physical and mental distances between humans and the connection we have with each other. It asks: how does isolation, and missing physical touch, create a sense of vulnerability?

During the rehearsal and filming, student performers and creatives mutually shared special emotional experiences of being on stage and making collaborative work again for the first time since the lockdown. 

It was also a design-led process; it challenged some of the assumptions and preconceptions of artistic leadership in the theatre and created an amazing learning platform for collaboration with the 24 students who participated in the project.

Photo courtesy University of Kentucky Photography

When we have no live audience
When we have no rehearsal
When we have no productions
When we cannot build a design
What do we put our creative energy?

Installation (in)VISIBLE 3.12 is a designer’s response to the current ‘Empty Space’ of theatre. 

It is a celebration of human presence.
It is about bodies in space.
It explores the rawest human emotions.
It is about connection through isolation.
It is about multi-cultures and inclusion.
It is about the present.
It is a celebration of life.

Associate director of (in)VISIBLE 3.12, Sam-Claire Bieber (senior, theatre major) expressed, "One of the things I have missed most during Covid-19 is the air of serendipity. It seems much harder now to have an unplanned moment or a chance encounter. Every run to the grocery store is meticulously planned. It seems like this necessary vigilance has meant that moments of vulnerability and connection have lost their place in everyday life. For me, (in)VISIBLE 3:12 has been about finding a way to remove a room of silence without filling it with noise, permeating a room with a connection without seeking physical touch, acknowledging what's missing and instead of giving something new."

Photo courtesy University of Kentucky Photography

(in)VISIBLE 3.12 is an experimental project
(in)VISIBLE 3.12 is not traditional theatre, but it happens in a theatre
(in)VISIBLE 3.12 is making a space VISIBLE
(in)VISIBLE 3.12 is about hope, resilience, and our human need for contact
(in)VISIBLE 3.12 is about our human need to express our experience as a community
(in)VISIBLE 3.12 is about people.

Haydon Gains (senior, theatre minor), associate designer, explained "(in)VISIBLE 3.12 responds to the silence and emptiness of COVID-19 by emphasizing connections among individuals and cultures on an empty stage. I loved working as an associate designer and the opportunity to create in the theatre once again. It has been wonderful to interact with my peers and professors to push the limits of my creativity under new restrictions and create experiences for people to enjoy."

“We can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A person walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.” (borrowed from Peter Brook's The Empty Space)

(in)VISIBLE 3.12 was filmed by William Arnold (School of Music, CFA). He and Yoon are currently busy editing the footage for release later in the Fall.

From left: Sam-Claire Bieber, Yoon Bae, Haydon Gains. Photo by H Brown