Project looks at how environment affects us

Local actor and producer Rosella Hart met individual participants for a self-guided tour of city...
Local actor and producer Rosella Hart met individual participants for a self-guided tour of city streets entitled Take Me With You. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
A Fringe Festival performative research project ended with two adults sitting in a bush near a busy Dunedin intersection and inspired a different way to view our city streets.

Rosella Hart’s Take Me With You was a self-guided-tour-style event, which explored how the environment affects us in a walk-and-talk-style event around central city streets. Otago Daily Times reporter Cas Saunders went along for the experience.

Motivated by finding a sustainable way to produce her own creative work Ms Hart connected with the Dunedin City Council Professional Theatre Development Fund and took up the project as part of her artist residency with Te Whare o Rukutia residency scheme.

"I started to pivot around how I could produce my own work and have a more sustainable, creative life in the city with the current situations that we find ourselves in," she said.

We met outside one of the more derelict buildings in Princes St on an uncharacteristically warm Saturday morning in Dunedin.

Ms Hart began by asking how I felt about the run-down buildings.

"I’m interested in performance and performative work that is outside of the traditional theatre space, partly because we don’t have a full professional theatre any more.

"This is a work that is more like character work, and I’m interested in other people’s experiences of daily things, how they tick, how we engage and are shaped by society," Ms Hart said.

We moved on from Princes St, Ms Hart gently asking questions about where we should go, what I could see and how that made me feel, in an almost child-like comforting tone, but not condescendingly.

Following a dead-end down an side-alley filled with colourful street art and posters, a discussion about why "concrete walls felt empty when compared to brick buildings" began.

The comments and experiences gathered over the series of tours could be used as stories and inspiration for further theatre performances, or street performances by Ms Hart.

The tour continued and we ended up at The Exchange, with a quick pat of the bronze penguin statues we discovered in the courtyard area.

We discussed the space around us and how we wished it was more community focused and utilised, before becoming entranced by the singular bush-like tree that sat on the corner of the brick paved square.

"Would you like to go under the tree," Rosella asked, prompting us as, two grown women to climb under the branches and sit comfortably under the the leaves obscured from the street.

Ms Hart made the experience feel as if the streets of Dunedin were filled with a renewed sense of child-like wonder, but strangely still adult with her about your own perception of the environment surrounding you.