Last week I was fortunate enough to be in Norway at SAND International Festival of Performing Arts for a Young Audience. I was participating in a workshop with scenographer Lawrence Malstaf, contemporary dancer Liv Hanne Haugen and electronica musician Per Martinsen as part of the ASSITEJ Next Generation Placement Programme. The workshop ’centred around the exploration of an “inflatable” – a bubble filled with air – and the relationship between the life like bubble, space and movement and physical interaction between object, audience and performer.’*
After 1.5 days of exploring ideas around this huge inflatable pillow in a dockside warehouse we put on a small performance for some of the festival delegates. The feedback was encouraging and it was very refreshing to work with new people with different backgrounds and from different countries. Malstaf’s style of working was something I was very unused to but I found the experience extremely freeing, enjoyable and eye opening.
I also got to see a few shows and talks at the festival: these were pretty varied. The highlight for me was definitely Rimi Protokoll's production Evros Walk Water. This is the story of fifteen refugee boys who have made a musical performance based on John Cage's 'Water Walk' but, sadly, they are unable to go on tour so we the audience must perform it ourselves. Through headphones we get the boys' voices speaking directly into our ears telling us their traumatic and humorous stories. Next, there is a bell and we must prepare to perform: the boys give us instructions through the headphones and each person plays a part in creating the sonic, cacophonic symphony. Then we are told to move on to a new pair of headphones and we get a new story in our ears and play a different musical part. It was an impressive feat of logistics - all these hapless delegates being moved seamlessly from station to station - and a very moving show. Some of the refugees' histories are very traumatic and heartbreaking but the piece steers clear of becoming soppy by playing the pop music the boys enjoy in the background as they speak. Creating sound with chains, buckets, water, paddles, bottles and a dulcimer conjured a feeling of chaotic joy which brought together the participants and made us feel connected to the refugee boys we were honouring.