Found & Lost at the Corinthia Hotel
Art’s intention is not for us to remain passive. However, passivity is bred by the current artistic climate, with the popularity of the cinema, its constant darkness and the belief that it is rude to talk during the film. Found & Lost in the Corinthia Hotel London is fighting back against this lazy habit. The production guides small audiences around the fully open and operational hotel as they follow a group of eight singers all over this beautiful building. It is performed as an opera, with the lyrics taken from books and other items that were left by guests at the hotel.
This opera is a product of the artist in residence project, set up by the hotel in 2011. Whilst it is a wonderful building, one certainly feels that Emily Hall, the artist in question, was limited by having to use it as a muse. Some of the scenes are an absolute delight to be surrounded by. The second scene, if one can use a traditional theatrical term when describing a relatively bizarre piece, takes place in one of the many bars of the hotel. The singers divide into groups of two and stand at opposite ends of this particular room. Their bodies create the frame for the almost completely natural action that is taking place at the bar, with guests of the hotel enjoying a quiet drink in the evening. The singers’ beautiful voices hit the audience from both sides and there is no way of escaping the inevitable immersion into the life of the hotel. The audience are then pulled rather wonderfully all over the venue as guests are bumped into, cleaners are disturbed and the general hubbub is experienced.
They are shifted from a business meeting suite to a bedroom and then to the boiler room. The last location is where the limiting influence of the hotel on the production can be seen most clearly. A concerted effort is made to reflect as many different areas of the hotel as possible, and yet there is something distinctly boring or inartistic about a boiler room. Hall appears to note this as she inserts a drunk man clanking a spanner against the pipes to accompany the singers, who contort their bodies on the floor of this otherwise desolate room to add to the spectacle. Despite such efforts to make this section stimulating, the rawness created in the earlier scenes is simply not present.
David Shepherd, sound designer on the production, claims that one of the piece’s aims was to make the audience look at the hotel “from a voyeuristic side”. The production uses this voyeurism as its lifeblood: walking through the restaurants or bars littered with customers, the audience feels as if they were almost invisible or unwelcome guests in this high-class establishment. A feeling of discomfort and yet also a thrill, something that only great art can cause, runs throughout. However, the wondrous nature of this feeling is quickly lost as the audience are often secreted away from the hustle and bustle of the hotel’s life, and instead have to marvel at the comparatively disappointing spectacle of each other.
Found & Lost is on at the Corinthia Hotel from 25th January until 3rd February 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch Emily Hall and David Shepherd discuss the production here: