Video Sniffing?, the first piece on Friday was about the ‘art’ of tracking down open, wireless transmissions of footage from security cameras and I really liked it. There was a couple of things going on in the piece; it started as a lecture of sorts where the guy was explaining video sniffing to the audience – how to do it, why people do it, the criticisms against it, etc. Then he was was joined on stage by a female lover who criticised his ‘hobby’ because his scrutiny of the video footage made him scrutinises her and she didn’t like feeling she was being watched all the time. She pointed out how difficult it is to behave normally when you know you are being watched.
The switch was a bit strange because the piece started with the guy talking directly to the audience, and then when she entered the scene, they sort of put up the fourth wall and had a private conversation. I think it might have seemed less split if her entrance was taken as more of an intrusion onstage and if they were a little more aware of the audience who were watching them argue.
They touched lightly on the idea that possibly being watched all the time and the number of CCTVs in our lives is not a good thing, that it doesn’t act as much of a deterrent against crime and is possibly an invasion of privacy. This subject was very lightly touched-on, so slight you could almost miss it. If that is what they want the piece to be about, I think it would have to take a more central role. But as it was, it was very enjoyable to watch, with lots of interesting ideas and was very well performed.
The second piece was called I Love Guns. According to the programme it was based on “a true and horrific story about a family massacre that started with a son killing himself with his father’s gun”. I didn’t really see that story in the piece. There was references to guns and to the feelings of hopelessness that might led to suicide but I couldn’t see a clear story. What was performed on Saturday night may have been a short section from a longer script.
However the lack of clear narrative did not stop me from enjoying the piece. The two performers, the Writer and the Actress, came on dressed all in white. This costume instantly creating an aesthetic that was other-worldly and strange. They sat on chairs, towards the front of the stage and the Writer began reading what sounded like stage directions for the Actress. The movement in the piece complemented the text. Sometimes the Writer would read out a list of physical instructions for the Actress which she would either follow or ignore. I really liked the text which was full of images and atmosphere and I would love to see more of it.
The third piece, Chaosmosis was a video installation. It involved black and white blobs moving through and over each other. It was a little bit too abstract for me and I spent my time trying to figure out if they were naturally occurring blobs, sub-diving cells perhaps or frog spawn, or if they were just computer graphics.
The fourth piece was called My Life in Dresses. It was a work in progress for a finished performance that will take place in September 2010. It’s about the creator, Sorcha Kenny’s addiction to second-hand and vintage dresses, her fascination with the lives these dresses had before they came into her possession and the sentimental attachment we all have to certain pieces of clothing.
I liked the idea of the piece and the staging looked very pretty with tailor dummies in vintage dresses, an old suitcase and other pretty, vintage things, like an old-fashioned radio and telephone. Despite obviously still being in the development stages, it was a lovely piece of theatre. Sound and video clips were used to great affect to show us all the different things that she is looking at for the final performance. There was space made in the piece for men’s voices too. There was the old man who keep all his wife’s dresses after she passed away and the dress diaries where Sorcha lent out her dresses to people and asked them to keep a diary of their week with the dress.
I think all these elements will combine to create a visually interesting and engaging performance and I will be looking out for it in September. You can find out more about the project at the My Life in Dresses blog.
The final piece on Friday night, Heart was about “the relationship between our conceptions about our bodies and how we construct them through language.” On stage, this involved a man informally interviewing his parents about how they first met and fell in love. While this was going on at the front of the stage, graphic clips of open-heart surgery were played on the big screen behind the actors. It was a nice little love story and a bit of open heart surgery.
The aim was to contrast the actual, bloody, beating heart with the more romantic notion of the hearts we see on Valentine’s cards. Scattered throughout the narrative, which I don’t think was scripted but had probably been rehearsed, were phrases that used the word ‘heart’ in a variety of different ways; things like “my heart was in my mouth”, “it was a hearty meal”, “it was a heartless thing to do” etc. These phrases became more frequent, or maybe just more noticeable, as the piece went on.
For me, the juxtaposition didn’t work because both things were happening at the same time but didn’t seem to connect in anyway, other than with the obvious heart connection. There was no overlap and this made it too easy to ignore one or the other.
The performance didn’t feel like a finished piece to me. The performers were engaging and I actually enjoyed the open-heart surgery because I like watching messy, medical procedures but it didn’t quite work as a piece of theatre.