Bryony Kimmings, decked out in a Marie Antoinette wig and an abundance of gold lamé, is holding court in the lobby of The Junction. This is the second day of a weekend-long festival of performance at the Cambridge venue. The Saturday featured new work from poets Tim Clare and Ross Sutherland as well as scratch pieces from companies including Made in China and a chance to participate in Hannah Jane Walker’s This is Just to Say.
Day Two is just as packed. Laura Mugridge’s distinctive VW camper van is parked outside. In the lobby a few intrepid souls are donning pink shell suits and headphones as part of Mega, Kimmings’ own work in development, while Maison Foo, in the guise of a pair of tweedy librarians, are shuffling around the space and shushing people. There are lashings of Pimms and cake and, later, Kimmings will lead the more refreshed attendees in a Footloose dance-off.
I arrive midway through JAM, the Junction’s experimental scratch session, just as poet and performer Molly Naylor is coming to the end of her work-in-progress, Crap Wedding Photo. This is followed by a short ‘sharing’ session by Maison Foo (them again) which sees them getting in touch with their inner eight year olds. The last piece on the JAM triple bill is the most complete. Dan Canham’s 30 Cecil Street is a piece of great delicacy and understated beauty. It takes its inspiration from Limerick’s Theatre Royal, a building with a history that stretches back some 150 years. The Royal has been closed to the public for over decade and now stands derelict. Canham’s piece began in 2009 as a short film (which can be viewed here); this film in turn triggered this piece of dance theatre.
To a lilting soundtrack, a collage of speech and sound ribboned with the clink of bottles, Canham sets about marking out a floor plan on the stage with masking tape, complete with doors and stairs. These white lines bring to mind the Brechtian experiment of Lars von Trier’s Dogville or, perhaps just as aptly, the outline of a fallen corpse: they give form and presence to that which is not there. Canham negotiates this space, inhabiting its corners, listening to its echoes, waltzing with its ghosts, his body juddering and gliding to fragments of snatched music. He creates a web of gossamer threads, the faint glimmer of memories in the dark. It’s a subtle piece but it has potency, evoking the passing of time, the things lost to history, the associations that certain places can hold, trapped, within their walls.