Casting THE PERILS OF OBEDIENCE: A Performance is the second stage of visual artist Itziar Barrio’s exploration in power dynamics and constructed situations. Using the methods of casting, the performance will unfold the wills and desires of the actors to succeed and be recognized. By placing them within fictional and non-fictional parameters, whether movie scripts or their own lives, Barrio reveals the production of power through seduction.
Following an open call, actors will audition for four full days with theater director Niegel Smith and will undergo a selection process. Open to the public for only two days the entire process will be recorded and included in a resulting video piece. Exploring simultaneously the limits and in betweens of theater, film and performance art, the live recording emphasizes the experience that is being created by actors and audience.
The four selected actors will be part of THE PERILS OF OBEDIENCE, consisting of building a scene in real time, at a future date in 2013. The first stage of the project was carried out in Spain during BAD, Bilbao Theater and Contemporary Dance Festival in 2010.
The fine line between the persona and the character finds its mirror in the audience, who executes its silent power by being present. Their presence implies a voyeuristic disposition and it functions to unveil the group dynamics and the negotiation of social roles and rules.
Pushing the actors to reveal their limits on stage, underlining the narratives present in any situation the performance frames an experience where conventions are decoded, contemporary fears of domination are confronted, and exhibitionism and social acceptability are critically examined.
THE PERILS OF OBEDIENCE is inspired by Stanley Milgram’s psychological experiments which began in 1961, a few months after the trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann. Milgram wished to test how much pain a person would inflict on another simply because this was asked of them for the purposes of a scientific experiment. As Hannah Arendt reminds us, "under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think". Barrio analyzes how obedience to a higher authority, even in democracy, can lead to extreme consequences and can involve large numbers of the population.