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Wise men from the east move in

AT NOON on Saturday January 27 the population of Perth is invited to come and watch four Melbourne men move into one of the most expensive residential spaces in Perth.

As part of the Perth International Arts Festival, four actors will live in a first floor shop window of the Myer city store for two weeks.

The people of Perth are invited to visit them day and night, to communicate with the performers or just watch their every move.

For Andrew Norrish, Nick Papas, Neil Thomas and David Wells representing Cultural Pursuits Australia, this is their sixth such performance.

Artistic director Neil Thomas conceived the capsule for the 1996 Melbourne arts festival.

The first performance in there attracted an estimated 200,000 people, with queues 15 people deep around the window all day.

The performance in Montreal increased the traffic to a shopping centre by 20 per cent.

"We believe it will draw a lot of people to Forrest Chase and Myer," said Gavin Budd store manager Myer City Store.

The cost of the Urban Dream Capsule is estimated to be $240,000.

Myer has donated the display window and all the furnishings, cutlery, crockery, computer equipment and a fax machine.

The cost of the window space alone runs into five figures.

Tradelink provided the building materials necessary to create a functioning domestic space, with a kitchen and bathroom.

The living space is carefully designed to be as comfortable as possible for the performers' stay as well as visually interesting.

In Perth the design theme is 'where the ocean meets the land'.

"I try to incorporate elements of where we are and where we've been," said designer Richard Mjeziorny.

"It's something real for the people in the city" said Mr Thomas regarding the intimate space.

The shop window presents certain challenges for performers.

For the performance to work there needed to be fairly continuous activity for people to watch, in what are expensive sets.

"I liked the idea of a pyjama party and one thing lead to another, the next thing we know we were talking about living in the window," said Mr Thomas.

"Our scariest thought was that no one would look at us, that we'd be caught up in this kind of aesthetic disaster.

A large part of the performance is developed by audience interaction. The people on the street are encouraged to communicate with the actors through mime or write a note on the white boards provided, send a fax or get on the web.

The Urban Dream Capsule has also travelled to Ghent, London, and Wellington.

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