Tag Archives: Battersea Arts Centre

Review E15, Lung Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

4 Stars4 / 5

On such a tragic day, when London is in a state of terror, the production of E15 by Lung Theatre is more poignant than ever. A community joining together to stand strong and still invite others to London.

Based upon the social housing crisis, E15 brings a documentary style of theatre with true stories from true people and their struggle and fight for basic rights that all humans should be allowed.

As a previous private resident of Newham when I first moved to London over 2 years ago, I was aware of the poverty of this area but no idea of this movement. This production fully opening our eyes to the crisis. London is known as a welcoming city, with the recent Brexit vote forcing people to announce that London is still welcome. Yet it seems we can hardly cater for even local people, those who seek asylum – anyone who needs help.

The stage being plastered in protest flags, chalk writing on the floor, campaign voices over the microphone, we are put in the essence of this struggle. And all the rest is the perfection of the performers.

Their truthful, natural and passionate narrative is poignant and emotional. But strong. Strong voices. Strong men and women and their ability to tell this tale with added theatricality made something true and political stand out.

Some say that theatre should stay out of politics but with theatre like E15, the only helps the cause and puts it on the radar of the public.

A very important and creative production – a must see!

https://www.bac.org.uk/content/42647/whats_on/whats_on/shows/e15

Review Show Me The Money, Paula Varjack, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

2 Stars2 / 5

A major and rising issue in the Arts industry is funding. Funding your art, your life, somehow becoming a fully fledged artist. It’s something we have all encountered –  myself hindering to this especially from coming back from a short stint of travelling to find myself on benefits with endless applications, interviews for jobs I am more than qualified for but not meeting the fine margin in the big City that is London.

While Paula Varjack predominantly focuses on those making theatre (a choice of a hiatus of theatre making made by myself due to trying to pay the bills) and other forms of art, rather than a broader range of the arts sector, she brings up points and an exploration that can be related to for all roles in the industry.

As a solo performer, she uses a range of mediums to express this. Some are through music, sound bites, interviews with other artists projected on the screen – we are back to the theatre genre I have recently discovered in previous Battersea Arts Centre shows such as Hairpeace and Live Before you Die, that is more a presentation that a show. Never the less, it is not any less of an interesting approach to performance art.

Much of the production was Varjack reiterating her well rehearsed scripting – however in comparisons to times of ad lib, it definitely felt scripted, rehearsed and lacked personality and warmth that we would expect from an issue so close to the heart.

While all the concepts are there, and she brings up lots of very good points that we relate to, the piece still felt in the scratch phase. It felt like something more ‘polished’ was lacking – while if we are realistic, theatre is known for never being perfect but always striving for more; more definitely being needed to make this piece ready for stage.

I found it personally hard to relate to at times. Not only did her background sound well supported which many artists do not have the luxury of (and I have no doubt this was unintentional an opinion) but also a stress was put onto the hours put into a show and a sense that this dragged. Again, while I feel the approach was meant to be positive, showing the hard working aspect of art, it felt more cynical, regretful and a sense of boredom in making the piece despite the modern dance music playing in the background.

With a lot of respect for Varjack and understanding and appreciation of what she is trying to achieve with Show Me The Money, it just felt a little lost at times and confusion in the point being made. However, she does bring a matter of fact expression to the topic at hand which is always welcome in contesting current art politics.

https://www.bac.org.uk/content/42639/to_archive/show_me_the_money

Review Fire in the Machine, Sounds Like Chaos, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

3 Stars3 / 5

Fire in the Machine is a production from the company Sounds Like Chaos, which features original work with performers aged 16-21 in South East London.

A loud and bright show, Fire in the Machine is a show featuring upbeat music, scheduled but unusual acts, in a form of a different and new Cabaret show than what we are used to. Some is spoken word, some is song, and some is pure chaos.

At this age range, I remember doing my GCSE and A Level drama productions, some of which didn’t look nearly as professional as this production – the usual make what you can, basic lighting and sound systems and A LOT of doubling your time to not only be a performer, but a director, a sound and light technician and prop/set maker. However with the use of BAC, the initiative is given a great space and access to the professional theatre additions which really helps in the confidence in these clearly passionate young people.

Just like my school days, there is evidently some who you can see potential and others who haven’t quite got that far – but this does not take away from the humour, the confidence and the commitment shown in what they have created. At times, just like their name, is organised chaos, providing laughter and a sense of uncertainty, others are thoughtful and bring to home the difficulty our future has, not just to us older persons, but also the struggle young people are facing – perhaps a lot due to our impact .

Fire in the Machine is well worth a watch – there is something wholesome and positive from experiencing this show, seeing the passion, the energy and interest that these young people have in the arts world – making me think that performance art/fringe theatre/original creations/whatever you wish to define it as, will proceed to go up and up.

https://www.bac.org.uk/content/42635/whats_on/whats_on/shows/fire_in_the_machine

 

Review DenMARKED, Conrad Murray, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

4 Stars4 / 5

Raw. Interesting. Emotional. With a dash of music in the form of looping, beat box. All from one man.

DenMARKED is what can only be described as brilliance. Taken biographically, this one man show from Conrad Murray hits the emotional pedal, pulls the heart strings, but also gives you the giggles. From times of being beaten by his father, his life of constantly being put down and fear of going no where but to rock bottom, however coming out the other side with the help of Shakespeare, music and the arts, we feel as if we are on a roller coaster with him; being able to tell his story is a triumph in itself but to express and tell the tale with such confidence, such theatricality and reflectiveness brings all the different elements to this hour or so long monologue, keeping us interested and the growing sense of friendship with Murray.

Basic use of lighting, pre-recorded narrative titles are used well, not taking away anything from this man, his story, his guitar and loop machine. The music itself is incredible – if this guy was not talented enough with how he has created theatre and ‘performed’ it in such a fantastic way, he continues to shine through the great ‘beats’ he makes on the spot – a CD I would love to own.

DenMARKED parallels parts of Murray’s life with the story of Hamlet, using key quotes to add that little something extra to his message.

With all these elements, this is a clever production and one of a kind – some can do spoken word; some can beat box and use this as a story telling technique; and of course some act. Conrad Murray does all of these, and more, bringing a polished, honest and brave production to the Battersea stage.

https://www.bac.org.uk/content/42636/whats_on/whats_on/shows/denmarked

Review Live Before you Die, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

4 Stars4 / 5

Since coming to the same venue to see Hairspeace last year, I have noticed that there is little (or in my opinion not enough) of performance arts with honesty, in a sort of presentation style.

Walking into Live Before you Die, I was not expecting it to have this theme. But it’s a theme I’m beginning to love.

Live Before you Die is a performance art come presentation of Byron Vincent and Dave McGinn’s journey to fix Byron. With a long standing illness of Bi Polar disorder, this truthful, at times shocking, at others hilarious and brave performance looks into Byron’s disorder, Dave’s friendship and attempts to help and all the crazy, interesting and scary events through this journey.

From meeting American self help professionals, to a stint in Vegas, and a missed show at the Edinburgh fringe, this pair tell their story while bouncing off one another. There’s no fancy tricks, no crazy light and sound moments intervening, no progressive dance; simply two men, in a sort of ‘Pointless’ set up (I’ve got to admit, it was a younger and more interesting similarity to the game show) and video clips of the tale.

This may sound boring – who sees a show that is so minimalist? But do not be fooled – coming from such honesty is definite intrigue and to add all these atmospheric theatrical additions would only ruin what they are achieving. To try and explain such a diverse and complicated illness is hard enough, but to be open and bring your highs, lows and confessions to 40 or so complete strangers takes guts and counteracts the stigma around mental health in a way that I have never seen before or doubt anyone has tried to do.

We are made to feel like friends; we laugh and joke with them, and this relaxed performance isn’t just what we need but we also sense that for Byron and Dave, this is something they need too.

Finishing with a hug from Byron at the end, there’s no certainty of what is next for this pair, but we can be sure their friendship, talent for performance art and more antics are definitely going to continue in abundance. And we hope, positive progression for Byron.

https://www.bac.org.uk/content/42637/whats_on/whats_on/shows/live_before_you_die

Review London Stories Made by Migrants, Battersea Arts Centre, By Hannah Goslin

Image result for london stories made by migrants

5 Stars5 / 5

Battersea Arts Centre has been transformed.

Walking into the beautiful lobby, the grand staircase has been covered by a black curtain and we are handed coloured wrist bands. The ceiling has lightbulbs shabby chic-illy hanging down, mostly colourless, apart from 4 with different colours. My wrist band is blue with the London district of ‘Merton’ written on it. Lots of audience members, I have not seen such a large crowd at the BAC in all the time I have been visiting.

We are soon informed that we will be split into groups, travelling around to meet different migrants in difference spaces around the entire building. Some spaces have never been open to audience members before, and this performance piece not only sees us travelling in representation of the migrants, but also a sneak peek into the restoration work of a building that once as a town hall, was open and inviting to all persons.

With the 4 groups, there are altogether around 24 migrant tales – in theory each time you come, you will hear different stories. The stories range from the heart warming, to the painful and disturbing to overall happiness. Each room we entered would have a different theme – some made into comfortable bedrooms that, if BAC are renting, I would not mind being in! To a kitchen,and some of individuals with only a simple lighting in large rooms. The experiences of each person hit some resonance with the audience, and it was a privilege and pleasure to meet each individual. Some were open and welcoming and some still closed off, depending on the experience. And this was okay, and it was brave for such individuals to offer to tell their stories.

Coming away from this, there was a sense of community. The openness and welcoming nature our country has for these people who have travelled to live here is abundant in their tales of acceptance and their gratitude. A sense of pride and elation came to me as I heard this, and also thanks to such wonderful people to join our community. It gave us a sense of unity with these complete strangers and thankfulness for our own, less traumatic lives.

Review, Key Change, Open Clasp, Battersea Arts Centre, By Hannah Goslin

Image result for open clasp key change

5 Stars5 / 5

Key Change

Open Clasp

Battersea Arts Centre

Open Clasp, an all-women’s theatre company are doing and achieving wonderful things in the world of community theatre. Key change is a production based upon previous work with real women in prison – the aim to originally put on a piece of theatre to their peers, Open Clasp has now transferred it to the public with the use of actors.

Highlighting domestic abuse, drug addiction and the mediocre and difficult life sustained by women in prison, this clever company draws upon physical theatre along the use of staging, music and lighting to create violent scenes, verbatim stories and incidences with the ‘inmates’ role swapping to give power to the stories and breaking the forth wall and comical writing to cleverly cut the tension and emotional and powerful scenes.

The performers are excellent – ranging in ages, each one is physically able to move around the space and evidently enjoying doing so. They are also very clever to change their bodies, movement, voices and facial expressions to create different characters – some we hate, some we love. This is done in a way that when we hear the stories of each inmate, we forget when they showed us the wife beater or the times when violence in prison is rife.

Some of it is comical by breaking the fourth wall – we see times where the performers make it obvious that we are in a performance and play upon this for our amusement, but still never breaking character. There’s foul language and slightly rude insinuations but again these either helped with the comedy or pushed the boundaries of these true and horrifying stories.

Key Change is a beautiful piece of work. Open Clasp have given us the right balance in true life stories and issues with a hint of comic relief that is respectful and a truly wonderful piece of theatre. It challenges our stereotypes and beliefs of women ‘criminals’ and gives a sympathetic and realisation to the innocent and self-protecting reasons some of them have been incarcerated.

http://www.openclasp.org.uk/our_work/detail/Key-Change/83

Review A House Repeated, Battersea Arts Centre, By Hannah Goslin

4 Stars4 / 5

A House Repeated

Battersea Arts Centre

In a transverse stage, little set but two chairs and two hospitable hosts, A House Repeated is unlike any other show I have experienced.

Described as a game show piece of theatre, it was as if we were transported into imaginary cluedo. Acting in two teams, we made decisions as a team when faced with choices of direction and actions. With no idea the outcome of this experience, we willingly engaged in a comedic yet creative piece of theatre that could have lasted for an hour up to several.

Unfortunately for this company, two audience members of an older persuasion were not so open and left very quickly. While it would seem this would disturb the piece, the hosts were understanding, the other audience members made this comical and this helped to return to the ‘normality’ that we had been involved in. This was nothing to do with the clever on stage interaction, but a naivety of these particular members to the different between our traditional theatre and the more experimental and immersive theatre that is challenged today.

Beginning in control, we were told mostly what options were available for our movement throughout our imaginary building, we were also told what the building looked like and so little was left to us to decide. We began hesitate, until we realised that the options given to us were not the only options, giving us the freedom to think more for ourselves, warming up to the concept. This is until we were given the chance to decide ourselves. Hilarity and a range of possibilities were open to us, giving us slight control to what we wanted to see and where we wanted to be. Anything was possible and it brought a lot of fun and laughter.

We were given the chance to be a team but let our imagination run – enjoying the mystery and the joy of such an interesting and fun performance art.

Review Hairpeace Battersea Arts Centre By Hannah Goslin

Hair-Peace-Landscape

3 Stars3 / 5

Beginning this one woman show, Victoria Melody begins with an  introduction to who she is, her previous show ‘Major Tom’ and where this brought her to the current production. She is a little bit odd, very talkative and full of expression. But it does put me on the edge of what was I really about to see.

This big haired, ditsy blonde seems amateur, strange and unlike anything I have ever seen. But soon, I was going to be surprised and about to eat my words.

Hairpeace begins from the performer’s quest to research a new show by entering beauty pageants. The cosmetic, pristine and long haired beauties we see on stage are all from this niche genre do a lot to make them this certain way. One part of this is the use of hair extensions, which are from real human hair. But where do they come from and does anyone even care? Melody investigates this, going from science, to Russia and to India where these extensions of beauty originate, and the deep dark and emotional secrets unfold.

As previous stated, I believed I was going to witness something amateur and something I was going to walk away from really disliking. I didn’t expect to be engaged, to laugh and to feel sorrow. Melody is so clever – her ‘amateur’ approach, her play on her airhead beauty pageant status is interesting and leaves us laughing. She is not only her intelligent and interesting self, but she plays on her stereotypes and easily wins around those (like myself) whose initial judgement was so, so wrong.

She uses her props, her staging well and plays with it all to bring out a laugh in us – one moment when a solid 3 minutes of her awful disco dancing with a frozen smile and her eyes lighting up in enjoyment is solely there to entertain – she is admirable for not caring what people think and doing things for us to love.

These hilarious and warming moments are comic relief however – the truth behind where hair comes from, her experiences and stories of people she goes to meet in Russia and India are heartbreaking but you are given real people through her filming, real emotion and she’s not afraid to show the real her whether it be taking the mick out of herself or telling the true revelations from her research.

Hairpeace turns into more performance art that a production; the content is real life, it is truth and honesty in all realms. However, instead of forcing us into a documentary, or storytelling, she highlights issues bluntly, bringing in elements of comedy to give that silver cloud. A definite informative and funny must see.

Never was the phrase ‘Never judge a book by it’s cover’ ever as apt as it is for this production; from my initial reactions to the reality of hair extensions.

Writer/ Performer: Victoria Melody

Director: Paul Hodson; Petra Massey

Dramaturg: Rachel Chavkin

Producer: Sean Phillips

Design: Ryan Laight; Joe Murray, Mitch Mitchinson, Evgeniy Kurbatov (Cameras); Richard Davenport, Hugo Glendinning (Photography)

Until 25 June 2016

https://www.bac.org.uk/content/41810/whats_on/whats_on/shows/hair_peace

Review Can I Start Again Please? Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

 

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Photo credits, Matthew Andrews

3 Stars3 / 5

Language is the common denominator of all cultures. It’s how we communicate. How we progress. It’s a vital part of being safe and how we control our lives.

Can I Start Again Please ? Is a beautiful and simple piece of theatre with an abundance of subtext. It looks at language and how it is used and it’s restrictions. It also looks at elements of childhood trauma and abuse and how language is stunted by these events.

Two performers sat in huge dresses (Sue MacLaine and Nadia Nadarajah) our focus only on their face and their hands with a simple set of a few books by each of them, 3 bells and a large never ending sheet of paper across their laps.

Can+I+Start+Again+Please+-+Words+and+Meaning

At times the minimalism of such a small set and performance in such a large area creates a lack of intimacy. We are at times meant to feel as if we are being addressed but in a large area, it gives confusion as to whether we really are or whether this is directed to the other performer. Or was this the intention?

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The performers show only two of the many ways we communicate – British Sign Language and vocally. The beauty of sign language is something I’ve never before taken the time to appreciate – the fluidity of the movement and the nature of gestures reminded me of a dance – a movement of language. If taken into a different context, there are many similarities in this language to what is achieved by physical theatre. The story or the expression is given through movement and at time abstract gestures rather than a simplistic mime; conveying emotion and meaning to anyone and everyone.

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Touching upon childhood trauma – the combination of both these ideas into one production is very clever. The performers have taken from personal history which gives a personable and relatable performance. How we are given freedom of speech yet we can be threatened not to speak, be scared to or even lose the ability to through traumatic events, showing the growing limitations language has culturally.

Video credits, Zoe Manders

This minimalistic but contextually full performance is 60 minutes of intensity; highlighting the pain and structure of language especially in difficult situations as well as how culturally it has changed.

I left with much food for thought and a new appreciation of language.

http://www.suemaclaine.com/can-i-start-again-please/