Features Published 4 May 2015

Transform: All in This Together

James Varney on the second day of Transform at West Yorkshire Playhouse.
James Varney

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Rash Dash have been researching. They’ve been thinking, they’ve been doing a bit of writing.

They’ve been on this two weeks, there’s no pretence there’s anything remotely resembling the final outdoor mass dance piece they’re heading towards. We’re present here at the very start of the journey. We’re present here for sharing. For a dialogue.

It’s a big subject: a Big Problem: and it’s Ours,

Street Violence Against Women

The Darkest Corners doesn’t exist yet but the raw material is all out there. Women are being attacked. All over the world. And movements, reactions, are taking place. All over the world. There’s plenty of people documenting this, and long may it continue. A good chunk of what Rash Dash present to us is this documentation, information, the context they’re looking at, and moving from. They shared with us some text, some ideas they’re working through, a couple of (gorgeously sung) songs.

We know the narrative, the stories, and if you don’t then there’s plenty of stuff out there to read if you’re up to a quick search.

Can I just ask, if any women who haven’t experienced something like this, raise your hands?”

Rash Dash, all women, also shared personal experiences of these forms of harassment, and the sharing ended with a rich group discussion and sharing from audience members. Again, this year’s Transform just hurls Conversation at us, with its ur-festival, One Big Scratch attitude to this weekend’s work. When we’re all aware we’re not watching an endpoint, we all magically open up, we’re all eager to feedback, contribute. Every reaction to all this work is prevented from being Criticism, because there’s nothing to critique yet. So suddenly, somehow, we’re all in this together – everything’s honest, everyone’s on a level with each other, the experience of work has been democratised. I’m excited.

I’m very interested to see how The Darkest Corners evolves, it could go anywhere. There are two categories in the research they’ve conducted: Activism & Documentation. It will be interesting to see whether the finished dance piece makes its stab at one, or both, of these categories, whether it attempts to tackle the causes or exhibit the symptoms, I’m not making guesses. But the intentions they’ve got, and their openness, I reckon, ought to put them on course to create something proper relevant.

For now, this much is clear:
that this is Our problem
and that Rash Dash want to know what that means

***

– he sat with us – Chris Goode gave us a welcome – he acted as though he wasnt going to start shouting from behind as soon as we forgot he was there – we fair strode across the building once discussion was over – if the scale were talking of is one of open vs cryptic – an hour isnt ever long enough – we walked straight into a piece entirely on the other side of the scale –

– its been translated into signs – and its a gorgeous thing to look at – by Blaise Cendrars – its been translated over french/English – the end of the world filmed by the angel of notre dame – a cluster of vignettes of text translated into theatre – la fin du monde filmee par lange notre dame – a huge pleasure just to take in – and its a gorgeous thing to listen to – the whole damn thing was bloody beautiful – its been translated over 1919/2015 –

– and if it feels that thats testament to Chris Goode & Company isnt it – but with the age of the text vs the age of the piece its inhered with this soft timestraddling wisdom – its been in the pipeline a while – this may be the oldest wip at Transform – had a huge sense of modernist play about it – of course playful as well – text and theatre just combine – i wont say Blaise Cendrars began the work in 1919 – maybe i mean it feels inevitable –

– what did you think – the links to be played – again theres conversation – there you go we did it – the dynamics at the core are gathering strength – the dialogue between theatre text time performer author audience makers – Chris addressing us – conversation cannot be evaded here at Transform – the fact they dragged the unwitting visual artist into the piece – the shared wry smile that signals to us the end of the piece – theres a network of dialogue  – all it takes is for it to be done – its cryptic its open its unfinished –

***

Friday at Transform and the dialogues continue. I keep meeting people at the bar, chatting. Something very important is happening this weekend. I’m convinced of that.

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