When Audience Becomes Actor: White Rabbit Red Rabbit, Gob Squad’s Kitchen & The Last Supper

When Audience Becomes Actor: White Rabbit Red Rabbit, Gob Squad’s Kitchen & The Last Supper


Part 1 – White Rabbit Red Rabbit


White Rabbit Red Rabbit

Brisbane Powerhouse

World Theatre Festival

14th February – 24th February 2013


Featuring Luisa Hastings


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


Imagine being 29 and forbidden to leave your country. How would you share your story with the world?


Until recently Nassim Soleimanpour was not free; not enough to travel. Having refused the mandatory military service in Iran, Nassim was not qualified to obtain a passport.

Turning isolation to his own advantage, Soleimanpour has created an intensely personal script that travels the world without him. It requires no director, no set and a different performer for every performance.

Neither the performer nor you will know what lies ahead. Thus begins a metaphorical journey into this wild, utterly original play that dissects the reality of a whole generation of Iranians.

By Nassim Soleimanpour. Dramaturgy by Daniel Brooks and Ross Manson.

White Rabbit Red Rabbit will be performed by a different performer each night. Guests include Miles O’neill (Thu 14 Feb), Helen Cassidy (Fri 15 Feb), Richard Fidler (Sat 16 Feb), Luisa Hastings Edge (Sun 17 Feb), Melanie Zanetti (Thu 21 Feb), Lucas Stibbard (Fri 22 Feb), Natalie Bochenski (Sat 23 Feb), and Justin Hamilton (Sun 24 Feb).


There are seventeen types of suicide – the eighteenth way to commit suicide is life.


White Rabbit Red Rabbit

On Sunday we saw Luisa Hastings perform this unusual play. Best known perhaps to those playing at home for her Summer Bay appearance, as Sarah Lewis in Home and Away, Luisa did a stellar job, translating clearly, carefully and beautifully naturally, a difficult piece that she had not seen before. That’s right! It was a cold read!


When Luisa appeared on stage she was handed an envelope, within which was a copy of the play by Nassim Soleimanpour.


Nassim wrote this piece to travel without him, to infiltrate the free world while he was banned from leaving Iran. Packed with political and social ideas, it’s an exploration of control, and the relationship between actor, audience and playwright. Luisa, The Actor, reads from the script and in doing so, reveals the story and specific directions, which must be carried out by The Actor and select members of the audience. The stakes are set high. “What matters is possibility…”


We are asked at regular intervals whether or not we’d like to continue and by the end of the play, we are asked to make a decision – to act on our feelings or not – and a member of the audience finishes reading the play when The Actor cannot. I couldn’t help but think of the dialectics scene in The Princess Bride. Suffice to say, without giving away the ending (because if you ever get the chance to see the play you must!), The Actor must make a choice and the audience must support or prevent that action happening…and by sitting there watching we are already condoning the inevitable.



The most incredible thing about this performance is that Nassim, the playwright, has always asked that a seat in the front row remain vacant for him, in the event that he would be granted a passport and get to see the play somewhere in the world. And on Sunday night he was there, in the audience at the Brisbane Powerhouse. You can imagine his excitement to see his play finally, for the first time, and he couldn’t resist leaping to his feet, to introduce himself to Luisa and to us, and take his seat in the front row. Luisa looked so surprised! Even so, I was suspicious! Was this really the playwright? It was. And what a great sense of delight and privilege was suddenly felt in the room. As Nassim settled to watch the remainder of the show from his seat in the front row the atmosphere was as if we had all shared something very special.


I loved the metaphors of this play, and I noted the emotions that came flowing (not all of them welcome),  just from hearing the clinical observation of the behaviour of those poor rabbits in Nassim’s uncle’s experiment, as read by The Actor. Unsettling, unmistakably human behaviours displayed by caged rabbits.


White Rabbit Red Rabbit

Yes! I was a rabbit! A Black Milk Clothing wearing rabbit!
White Rabbit Red Rabbit by Nassim Soleimanpour.



Whenever you bite a carrot the other rabbits bite. It’s their nature.


Nassim told me later that he is currently working on a play that requires an audience member to become the actor. I can’t wait to see that.



1 Response to “When Audience Becomes Actor: White Rabbit Red Rabbit, Gob Squad’s Kitchen & The Last Supper”

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