Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Wacky Weekend

Experimentica Day Four
Chapter Arts Centre
Saturday 9th Nov

Here’s my thoughts on the beginning of the final weekend of Experimentica 2013:

good cop bad cop : wlaf wers, tawaf wedy

Advised to pick up ear protectors as we entered the theatre space – we were warned that this performance is a 'sensory assault'.

The audience were enclosed on one side by a band and on the other what looked like a makeshift set for a TV chat show, already claustrophobic the room felt tense with anticipation.

The performance started gently enough with plenty of humour as an interview with the next big band was read aloud in the most gloriously deadpan voice. The 'host' sat in a swivel chair opposite a couch on which were placed strip lights – the apparent star talent. Some audience members were also involved, asked before the performance to put on t-shirts reading 'Steve', 'Simon' or 'Simone' they stood behind the couch looking suitably awkward - perhaps as a reminder of how easily one's identity can be changed in the eyes of the media.

At the end of the interview a series of images flashed onto the gauze backdrop of the interview area, soon being lit enough to reveal a Welsh dresser behind. Out of nowhere a man began to shred the wood with a chainsaw, the gauze curtain being the only barrier between the flying splinters and the spectators. As the racket of the chainsaw grew the band started up, adding their melodies to the cacophony and the room quickly filled with smoke.

Seeing people lose their inhibitions in the haze filled room was fascinating - especially as their sight and hearing were attacked. As if at a gig people started to dance and move around the space. The power of music or in this case just noise is incredible - you can really lose yourself in the moment.

Also if someone in the same room as you is doing something as crazy as slicing up a Welsh dresser with a chainsaw a little bit of dancing seems completely acceptable, even to the shyest participant.

A fun and daring performance that became a shared sensory experience for all involved.

For more on good cop, bad cop please visit: www.gcbccentral.com

Richard James and Anthony Shapland: The Colour of Saying
Teaming up for the first time musician Richard James and film maker Anthony Shapland have created a charming and creative tribute to the life and work of Dylan Thomas.

In their first collaborative piece the pair were determined to produce a creative response to the great poet, rather than just another biography. What resulted was a beautiful visual pilgrimage through the places that Dylan grew up and lived in. From the beaches of the Gower to the local pub the collection of images showed Wales in its very best light.

The composition accompanying the film was just as beautiful, evoking the green hills and sandy beaches of Thomas’ childhood. The collaborative nature of the piece was clear as the music and film worked together to form one touching artwork.

Towards the end there was a perceivable dark turn, a fitting tribute to the more tumultuous works of Thomas who is believed to have led an extraordinary and not always easy life. Constant reminders of the passing of time perhaps alluded to Thomas' tragically short life.

In a genuinely interesting and engaging post-show discussion, involving the two artists and Thomas’ granddaughter Hannah Ellis, the subtler hints towards the author’s life were discussed. During their travels the artists found most of the locals to be helpful and friendly, being told ‘you need to go and talk to Chips Jenkins’ or other local characters that could have stepped from the pages of Under Milkwood. Interestingly they found that even in the places where Thomas lived and worked the idea of him being nothing but the ‘drunk poet’ lived on, this was especially amusing as mostly this phrase was said over a pint of beer.

This year, being the 60th anniversary of Thomas’ death, will see a lot of tributes paying homage to the poet and playwright but I’m sure not many of them will be this creative and imaginative. With the clips of Wales’ beautiful landscapes and the heartfelt composition playing it is easy to see how Thomas could gain so much inspiration for his work.

For more on the individual artists: www.inchapter.com and www.anthonyshapland.com

Tomorrow is the finale of the festival and the line up looks great!

For a full line up, more info and tickets 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/

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