Melbourne Fringe 2016: BETWEEN TWO LINES

An illuminating, liminal, literary indulgence

By Leeor Adar

Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines…” – Jeanette Winterson

I’m in a bathtub in a bookstore. I’m robed, sipping a blossoming tea, and being read to. The world outside bustles by, occasionally stopping to stare in wonder, but honestly, I’m already somewhere else. I’m on a different wavelength – a higher wavelength.

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For the literary lover, the scent of the pages of a book is a gentle caress, speaking of untold and sometimes familiar places. It’s the promise of another world that draws us in, a chance to escape our chaotic reality.

Anna Nalpantidis, creator of award-winning live-art production, The Ministry, has brought us something exceptional for this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival. Between Two Lines was inspired by Nalpantidis’ interest in biblio-therapy. A visit to Melbourne’s ‘School of Life’ ignited her interest in what the Greeks referred to as the ‘House of Healing for the Soul’. Literary healing.

Nalpantidis’ installation design is whimsical and breathtaking. With the help of illustrator, Astrid Mulder, and the astonishing gentleness of ‘therapist’, Elizabeth Brennan, these collaborators have created in Nalpantidis’ words, a “very intimate, indulgent and rejuvenating experience”.

So how does the magic unfold?

You will don a soft white robe, you will relinquish your possessions (momentarily), and you will fill out a short questionnaire that gauges your emotional state. Moments after you’ve read excerpts of literature, Brennan emerges from the veiled white world to take you in for your session.

Into the golden tub I climb, encased in soft, pillowy materials as a voiceless Brennan guides my senses to a tea of my choosing (chrysanthemum in my case). Once in my heavenly cocoon, Brennan reads to me. What she reads shall remain our secret…

My experience was like nothing I’ve ever had. It was as if Between Two Lines gently took my hand and guided me to the quieter part of my mind. Leaving Embiggen Books, I walked the mad cityscape like I was not of this world. I was on different terrain; tranquillity encased my whole being for what felt like a walk through the clouds.

Nalpantidis tells me that the responses of participants and spectators who look through the window are “profound”. Experiences can be quite emotional for some participants, and incidences of spontaneity are frequent, including people stopping their car to tap on the window and look within.

Between Two Lines stops traffic, literally. It pauses the participant’s life, suspending them in an ethereal state above the living world.

If you want to have a positive and enlightening experience, then I urge you to walk up Little Lonsdale to Embiggen Books until October 1, and experience this truly inspired and unique performance.

My only wish? That Nalpantidis and her team could indulge me again.

Please Note: the performance sessions are currently fully booked, but keep an eye out on the Facebook page or email Nalpantidis directly to join the waiting list:

Image by Theresa Harrison Photography