Interview: Nat Randall on The Second Woman

The Second Woman is a cinematic live theatre performance spanning 24 hours. Nat Randall performs the same scene on a loop with 100 different men: strangers, performers, non-actors. She speaks to us about this Herculean performance

feature (adelaide) | Read in About 2 minutes
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The Second Woman
Published 08 Feb 2019

How did The Second Woman come out of your collaboration with Anna Breckon?

My background is in participatory and durational performance. Anna comes from a film background, so the work has manifested into a live performance piece that strongly centres the filmic image. During the performance Anna is really the most critical eye in directing everything from the man-wrangler, to the vision mixers, to the camera operator. In theatre, video can be considered peripheral or aesthetic, but here it functions as a core element in the structure of the work. The audience experiences the live moment, as well as the live video moment.

How has the way you perform the scene changed after repeating it hundreds of times?

My performance is changing minutely within each iteration, but also across the 24 hours as fatigue hits it also shifts. I'm still quite shocked each time a person comes through, I've never seen them before, and we have to perform this intimate exchange. The pleasure for the audience is seeing this stranger relationship in quite a familiar context and it is really dependent on who comes into the room next.

How do you think repeating the scene affects the audience?

I guess it provides an anchor point to examine the difference between each scene and how people navigate their emotions. Because the audience are entering and exiting at any point, people are having very different experiences depending on how many scenes they've watched. What could look like an error, or a moment of intensity, or a power dynamic gone wrong, you see over time how ingrained in the script those things are.

Have any of the male participants done anything that surprised you?

Some have surprised me how connected I felt to them or how enjoyable the scene has been. It is always surprising to have those points of connection, or points of fear, points of frustration, depending on how the person might choose to be in the scene.

What do you think is the power of presenting theatre in this format?

There is much more of an intimate space in which two people can perform and exchange. I think it is really addictive for an audience because nobody knows who is going to walk through that door next or what the dynamic between us might be.

The Second Woman, Space Theatre – Adelaide Festival Centre, 10-11 Mar, 4pm (24 hrs).