By Raimondo CorteseDramaRanters Theatre

Intimacy

Raimondo Cortese’s work for Ranters Theatre is distinguished by its hyper-naturalism and seemingly free-form structure. In Intimacy, he mines a series of unplanned and unassuming encounters for deeper meaning, looking at how people perform themselves and the spaces for genuine connection that open up between strangers.

Intimacy begins with a man steeping out of his apartment into the chaos of a busy night, striking up conversations with strangers. These random, isolated interactions reveal a surprising amount about these acquaintances, as anonymity opens them up to freely reveal themselves, without consequence for their everyday lives.

Intimacy, as its title suggests, invites the audience into these deliberate chance encounters, and the intimate yet ultimately fragmented sense of the overheard.

Portrait of Raimondo Cortese

Raimondo Cortese

Raimondo Cortese is a founding member of Ranters Theatre, of which he was artistic director from 1994 to 2000. The company has achieved worldwide success with their stripped back style, regularly appearing in international festivals and touring Europe since 1999. Raimondo’s plays include Lucrezia and Cesare, St Kilda Tales, Holiday and The Dream Life of Butterflies. He has published a collection of short stories, The Indestructible Corpse (Text Publishing, 1998) and he has written for film, television and radio.

Judges’ report

Written with clarity and deceptive simplicity, Raimondo Cortese’s Intimacy is a major achievement in dramatic naturalism and spontaneous spirit. Its gentle, meandering conversations possess the ring of truth while surprising with moments of candour and acute insight. The pared-back script revels in both art and artifice, finding the fascinating amidst the banal and revealing the subtle nuances of connection in overheard conversation. A totally infectious and wonderfully joyous slice of humanity.

Extract

Originally written for Melbourne-based Ranters Theatre, Raimondo Cortese’s Intimacy is a play that explores the simple human connections we are able to make with others.

The premise of the play is straightforward: Paul, the central character and narrator, recalls a night “a few years ago” when he set out from his apartment in St Kilda, intent on introducing himself to strangers. Some people decline his invitation, but others - “a surprising number” - enter into conversation with him. He meets Russell, a teacher whose life in part revolves around his passion for roller-coasters; Birdman, a performance artist whose days are spent dancing like a bird outside a city department store; and Adrian, a pilot who suffers from panic attacks. These meetings take place on the street, in cafes, in a karaoke bar, on the beach.

With no other relationship outside the present moment, these chance encounters are filled with rare honesty and insight. Instead of pretending to ‘be’ someone, these strangers are able to present themselves as they ‘are’. And while these conversations often begin with the humdrum details of ordinary lives, they gradually find their way toward the most basic of human concerns: fear, love, dreams, loneliness.

Cortese’s play is about the intimacy we find with strangers, who allow us to be ourselves, as opposed to the character we play for our friends. It is about the things said and the things not said, the words and silences that bind us, as strangers, to our common humanity.

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