Anna Mahtani shares some works of art inspired by the NSDF 21 shows. A rolling gallery that'll expand as the week continues.
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to hunt violets, Juniper Theatre // Malcolm Liepke
Raw skin, messy edges, authenticity under-shadowed by an expressionistic, poetic, urge – to hunt violets is very much an unpolished work in progress, but one which, nurtured and developed, could be a stunner. There's a sense, in such a small frame, of disenchantment, lost innocence, and the numb need for something, anything, to change. Like Liepke’s, the work is gritty, (somewhat lacking in diversity) strangely melancholic, and strikingly alive.
Seen, New VIc College // Jackson Pollock
The free-form, conversational and organic feel of Seen is a carefully choreographed improvisation. The bustling energy of Pollock’s work matches the shouting, dancing, screaming, singing and moving silences. But behind a swirling of light and dark, the jovial and deep-rooted, lies a steady base of anguish. Like life under oppression, like youth finding its feet, nothing is monochrome, and the cast of Seen drip feed us sparks of comedy amid the terrifying realities of the world today. Entranced, we cannot help but hope that someone, soon, will tell us ‘You can stop now’.
The Light Catcher, Theatron Entertainment and Thespo // Olafur Eliasson
The Light Catcher is a powerful tale on the transformative power of art, and the baggage that it brings with it. Ubiquitous as the sun, the play oozes warmth. Just like the mesmerising Kanika, ‘The Weather Project’ draws the entire room into it, toying with light and shadow. You cannot help but imagine the people as tiny light catchers, like Kanika, capturing the moment with the eyes.
This is a Love Song, Tiny Change Theatre // the works of Puigaudeau
A piece about letting people in, and letting people go; This is a Love Song says so much in its simple lines. The comforting style of both the play and Puigaudeau, who paints serene scenes with extraordinary, ordinary, colours. Looking out at the rising or setting sun, there is hope, and unavoidable despair; it's just you and me to the end of the world. Soft, warm, moving without ever forgetting to have fun, its mellow tones don’t reflect a lack of depth, rather, a deep look at life, through the lens of love.
Not Near Enough, University of Falmouth // Frida Kahlo, ‘Girl with Death Mask’
I really hesitated to put Frida Kahlo in, especially the piece ‘Niña con máscara de calavera’ ('Girl with Death Mask'), but it has a simple but macabre effect. Plus it's by a woman (none so far – sorry!): An unsettling childlike quality counterbalances with the threat of death. Dark is approaching from below, the flower is picked, the clouds turn to gray, something is coming, and it's too late to stop it. Our eyes dart around only to be drawn to skull. The masks we wear only reminds us we will die.
HOME, Undereaves Theatre // Edward Hopper
With its social realism, HOME speaks to an uneasy mundane; something is missing in these homes. Is it the past? Love? All we have are bricks, don’t let them fall. Poetry is spoken over ordinary life. A house is not a home unless shared, one baby blue will never be the same as another. The kettle is boiling, the surface is still.
The SCRUBBERS Guide To Drama School, SCRUBBERS // Guerrilla Girls
Fun, mouthy, refusing discrimination, promoting love and reclaiming their sexualisation; Scrubbers is a conscious push for community and slagging off the status quo. Thou sayeth we need posh high art? Scrubbers would disagree. With genuine moments of heart, dubious impact, the cast of Scrubbers made the most of a mismatched medium.
Jigsaw, Pound of Flesh // ‘Breathing Room’, Anna Berry
Living, breathing, loving, Jigsaw is a work of art that will draw you in and swallow you whole. The thousands of paper cones assembled to create ‘Breathing Room’ are the puzzle pieces necessary to create the whole; every piece, every note, every line of Jigsaw was just as essential, and the effect is breath-taking.
In a Cave, a Voice, The Pembroke Players // Grottes de Lascaux
A simple image can tell a thousand tales; In a Cave, a Voice is storytelling stripped back to its bare basics. A warm mysticism brings this story to life, and the gorgeous sound design, immersive voice and simple imagery swallows us whole. This is a tale about family, isolation and loss; and I’ve never felt more connected.
Common Ground, Thunk-It and Barrel Organ// ‘Intimate feelings’
Advice, Home and Memory talk us through reflective letters, fun music and meaningful activities with the simple aim: to find Common Ground. The unpretending production feels more like a warm hug and a soft cup of tea than a play, but by abstracting their letters and conversation the piece toys with what touches us all.
Vibrations, GABII // ‘Platonic Love’ Hannah Höch
Vibrations portrays the detached intimacy of two people who know everything about each other, and nothing at all. The dreamlike collage ‘Platonic love’ echoes the need for intimacy, which only results in alienation. Self-love, always, must be the first step. And when platonic love is achieved, it’s out of this world. ‘The moon only smiles like this for us.’
You Will See Everything, Definitely Fine // Carolee Schneemann
Visceral visuals hold the audience captive. You Will See Everything’s tale of grief, loathing, love and motherhood, shocks. Daughter sits in a womb of linen. Schneemann builds a room of broken glass. Sat in a throne of their own creation, Carolee and Daughter tear down feminine docility, the unfairness of patriarchy and the utter isolation of existence. And the result is pure art.