Experimentica Day Five
Chapter Arts Centre
Sunday 10th November
All good things must come to an end and although I’m sad that Experimentica 2013 is drawing to a close the finale line up was an exciting and fitting conclusion. Here’s what I thought:
Mamoru Iriguchi: One Man Show
Mamoru originally trained as a zoologist, then as a theatre designer, now he has taken to the stage himself. Through this bizarre training route he has arrived at a distinctive and innovative style of multimedia performance art.
His design background is evident in the ingenious set consisting of four projection screens, onto which pre-recorded and live footage of an imaginary audience played – all copies of Mamoru himself. As Mamoru melodramatically began to recite Hamlet’s ‘to be’ speech, his on-screen doppelganger’s piped up ‘you’ve missed a line’. As time went on each of the look-alikes developed their own personality, offering their thoughts and often mocking the live performer.
This precisely timed interaction with the screens completely broke down the fourth wall. The performance asks what would theatre become if the performers could hear your thoughts or it was acceptable to shout out criticism during the act? It also explored the idea of the creator of the work being its own biggest critic – perhaps playing with the feelings of self-doubt that all artists experience.
What began as one man delivering Hamlet’s lines in a perfectly crafted, over-the-top style soon turned into an exciting ensemble piece exploring performer/spectator boundaries, gender roles, self-deprecation, melodrama and parody.
A brilliantly funny, expertly crafted and thought-provoking piece.
For more on Mamoru’s work please visit his website: www.iriguchi.co.uk
Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari : Probing Elvis
Every year the Welsh sea-side town of Porthcawl holds its annual Elvis festival, despite the fact that most of the locals hate it! The festival attracts over 30,000 Elvis fans, tribute acts and impersonators – this year they were joined by a group of artists, led by Barrett and Mari, who hoped to learn something from the rock and roll addicts.
Whilst at the festival they drank at the pubs which welcomed the festival goers and tried to avoid those which were too high brow. They met plenty of characters and really joined in with the rockin’ spirit.
To consolidate what they had experienced the group spent the whole Experimentica weekend together trying to devise creative responses to the festival. In a cabaret style the artists shared their work which included plenty of dodgy wigs, tributes to various famous musicians and oddly an awful lot of Hamlet.
Each section was unique and thoughtful, providing a lovely insight to the act of tribute or what it means to be famous. I would love to respond to every section of the evening but for the sake of readability here are some of the highlights:
In Daniel Bye’s spoken word tribute to the joys of a great piece of live art he invaded the audience space and shared the joy of being a spectator to something great. Nicki Hobday’s offering was completely different, dressed in a black morph suit she sang along to Perfect Day impersonating someone different on each line with incredible vocal dexterity.
Land artist Siobhan Price created her artistic tribute during the festival itself. Camping out for 24 hours on Coney beach in Porthcawl she created beautiful images with the sand, inviting passersby to join in, knowing full well that the tide would eventually wash away their work. Sara Davies on the other hand brought the beach to us, as a local resident she shared her thoughts about Porthcawl whilst other members of the group sprayed water at us or handed us dollops of soggy sand from a bucket and spade.
The audience interaction continued with Ellie Stamp’s ‘Who do you think you are karaoke.’ After telling us a story about how she herself could possibly be Elvis’s lovechild she got the audience singing along to A Little Less Converstation whilst she sang out people’s written responses to the question ‘who do people think you are?’ A really interesting response to the idea of tribute and playing someone else’s role.
The artists also invited along PhD student Daniel Evans whose fascinating thesis discusses Porthcawl and the tension between different classes that has been evident since the miners used to visit the town during their two weeks leave. Calling it the Valley’s Valhalla and the Miner’s Mecca Daniel drew comparisons between the two weeks in which the miners would take their holiday and the Elvis festival which some of the locals also look down upon.
The tributes to the festival of Elvis tributes were varied and entertaining. Each artist had a completely different response to the weekend and the overall effect was fun and inclusive. It felt like the event was its own mini-festival within the wider Experimentica festival.
For more on the festival visit: www.elvies.com
And for more on the artists: www.nigelandlouise.com
What a great way to conclude Experimentica 2013!
For the full line up and more info visit: www.chapter.org
To keep up with my commentary of the festival follow me on Twitter : @Chelsey_Gillard
Or visit my Pinterest board to see a collection of reviews, images and links: www.pinterest.com/gillardcl1/experimentica2013/