Franciska Ery

Franciska is a theatre maker and critic recently graduated from Queen Mary with a BA in English and Drama. She writes reviews for A Younger Theatre and will continue her studies at Goldsmiths University on their MA course in Performance Making.

19 Reviews from Festival 41

4 days, 41 shows and 2 locations. From 17-20 May third year drama students performed their final Practice Based Research Project performances in ArtsOne on Queen Mary’s Mile End campus and Hackney Showroom.

Below you can read the written responses to the performances from our finalists; Hattie Long, Georgia Bate and Franciska Ery. There’s more to come in a second blog post too so be sure to keep an eye on @qmulsed for when it’s published.

Atlas: A Finale by Atlas

You, a member of the public, of the unwashed have the privilege of attending a retrospective of one of the greatest artistcelebritydivas of the 21st century. Poised staff, all in black with eye make-up running down their cheeks curtly tell me where to go, and promote an atmosphere that asks that you conduct yourself with due reverence. On display in the space is material from the artists career including videos, outfits and wigs. I am directed through to the gift shop where minimalist t-shirts stamped with the artist’s emblem are on offer alongside vials of hair and perfume. But this isn’t the Tate Modern, and I haven’t spent 4 hours queuing to be here or bought a ticket as soon as they came out at £20.00 a pop. This is QM on a Tuesday evening and the Artist in question is Atlas. The realisation of this exhibition makes for a great exploration of the myth-making that takes place around the ‘artist’. We are made into fans without even giving our consent, perhaps without even having encountered Atlas before. I am told, that for a donation I may enter the ‘tomb’. Of course, not wanting to miss out, I dutifully deposit a donation and enter. – Georgia

Grandpapi’s Pleasure Palace by Lily Davis-Broome

Unsure what to expect, we followed the malevolent doorman through into the film studio. UV light bounced off our skin, our tickets were checked and we were ushered into the extravagant confines of Grandpapi’s Pleasure Palace where the scantily clad Lilita was stood in the corner waiting. She danced for us, her long plaits flying as she twisted and turned between titillation and inner torment. She moved to the private room. She took off her clothes for us, she forced herself to drink special concoctions and then she put her clothes back on, taping her body into place, and danced once more. All for our pleasure of course. – Hattie

 

Mind the Gap between the artist and the platform by Roya Eslami

Appropriately staged in the Hitchcock Cinema, Eslami wittily explored whiteness in film. Recreated versions of film scenes from classics like Pulp Fiction, Pretty Woman and Breakfast at Tiffany’s were shown side by side with the originals and the white actresses that starred in them, creating a humorous tension between media whiteness and the artist’s non-whiteness. It was stark, it was funny, but the livestream footage of the audience never allowed us to forget that this was a spectacle. – Hattie

 

Abled/Disabled by Elise Lamsdale

‘Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York’. So begins Richard III and Elise Lamsdale’s exploration of perceptions of disability, Abled/Disabled. Inspired by her own experience with cystic fibrosis, Lamsdale uses one of Shakespeare’s most infamous villains to emphasise her point about the associations surrounding the words abled and disabled. Words are at the forefront of the piece, lying crumpled around her on the floor as she picks her way through definitions. Yet the projected image of a pair of healthy lungs next to those of a person with cystic fibrosis reminds us of the emptiness of these words in the face of the hidden physical disease. – Hattie

 

Words at 51 by Shafiq Nsubuga

Listening in on the conversation of the two on stage, it’s clear that this is a familiar set up. Two friends together making music, their chat encompassing popcorn and pop hooks, it would be easy to forget that this is staged. It felt remarkably natural and intimate, an insight into a private space. It was a shock when the lights flashed up on the audience at the end, breaking us out of the illusion that this was something hidden. The lights fade and so do the voices, our insight dwindles once more. – Hattie

 

A Theatrical Nudity Structure by Laura Graham Anderson

Laura Graham Anderson adopted and adapted staging and performance constructs of naturalistic performance, creating something hypnotic and compelling to watch. Typical box set items reminiscent of Ibsen, an armchair, a standing lamp, a tea trolley, were marked out on the floor by tape, emphasising the artificiality of their presence. They made the space feel intimate, as Graham Anderson’s repetitions and set track around the space provided a sense of containment within the structure. Layers of cardigans were removed and gestures added, repeated or dropped as the audience watched mesmerised. The theatrical structure was left bare. – Hattie

Laura Graham Anderson’s A Theatrical Nudity Structure is an exploration of repetition and the gradual exposure of the female body. Using theatrical texts heavy with tradition, Graham Anderson successfully presents a study of the female body in a theatrical context, resulting in a pleasurable collision between theatre and live art. Although her setup and actions might seem elegantly simple, she is in full control of her structure and nothing in her space is arbitrary. – Franciska

A-Theatrical-Nudity-Structure-by-Laura-Graham-Anderson-(credits-to-Moa-Johansson)

Photo Credit: Moa Johansson

Trial 32: G.R.A.C.E. by Sydney Goldsworthy

Take your seat. In front of you are two buttons, a red and a green. The options are on the screen. Press the corresponding button to make a choice. It’s a concept many of us are familiar with through video games and choose-your-own-adventure books, but here the choices were in front of us as we dived through and tried to destroy the malevolent force of M.O.T.H.E.R. We didn’t last long. I’m itching for another go. Perhaps that’s the point. – Hattie

Trial-32-G.R.A.C.E.-by-Sydney-Goldsworthy

I I I I will dI I I by Franciska Ery

The one certainty in life is that one day it will end. You will die, I will die, we will all die. Franciska Ery’s performance explored our inevitable demise, raising issues of mortality and finality. Ery, transforming into a death figure, moved along a red line in a middle of the space as she changed into a sensual black clad being. She pulled on strings, causing pairs of sunglasses to rise and fall around the room before cutting the threads, leaving the glasses to crash to the ground. Owning the black space around her, she danced moving back and forth along the glowing red thread of life. Gradually derobing and changing back into her original self, she returned slowly along the line, leaving us alone in the darkness. – Hattie

I-I-I-will-dI-I-I-by-Franciska-Ery-(credits-to-Liv-Johnson)

Photo Credit: Liv Johnson

Happily Never After by Paulina Musayev

We lay down on blankets and pillows ready for our bedtime story. It is the tale of a girl, the jewel of her small fishing village, who travels to find the dollmaker. Journeying alone, the little girl encounters great danger to buy a new doll. What she does not realise is that the dollmaker’s price is her life. We awaken to find the girl, transformed into a doll, seated before us ready to be dressed up. We leave her dressed, decorated and completely still. Not all fairy tales have a happy ending. – Hattie

 

Edible Beginnings & Messy Endings by Catherine Palmer

Catherine Palmer presents Edible Beginnings & Messy Endings, a bittersweet mixture of whimsical celebration and direct commentary on the relation between consumerism, pleasure and the body. We are invited to her party filled with sweets, pastry and sugary liquids. The overabundance of food and the pink and glittery aesthetic potently represent the overwhelming feeling of unquenched desire. Palmer’s humorous and satirical piece is filled to the brim, but all is stripped away when she stops the music, destroys her towers of food and undresses to wash herself clean. – Franciska

 

Over Her Dead Body by Fia Hacklin

Low rumbles and the distorted screams of a female voice permeate the experience of looking at the photographs in ‘Over Her Dead Body’. In the sparse space it is as if there is a ghostly presence hovering over my shoulder. Fia Hacklin is the subject of the three sets of photos, her body positioned as if deposited unceremoniously, limbs at angles, with flowers strewn over her. Beauty and death, life and lifelessness sit alongside one another, drawing attention to the aestheticisation the dead female body. Fia’s work destabilises the relation between subject and observer. The subject gazes out from the photographs, her stare like a challenge, reproaching the viewer from underneath a Marie Antoinette wig. – Georgia

 

(MmM)ilk me by Beth Christlow

a) Against the metal and stone of the Hackney Showroom warehouse, with strip lighting and medical paraphernalia, there is no room for a pastoral ideal of milking. Sucking, slurping, gargling, spitting, ‘mmmm’, Beth Christlow is a vessel, consumer and producer of fluids. Moving through a sequence of stations, and interacting with the milk she encounters there, the performer seems at once insatiable and overflowing, she is greedy and trapped in a repeated process. (MmM)ilk me examines our needs and wants. Moving between woman, baby and animal, sloshing and dripping through the space, the performer crosses borders to examine the human intervention into, collision with and consumption of animal lives. – Georgia

b) (MmM)ilk me shows a peculiar creature’s experiments with milk. She is animalistic, yet grotesquely human, as the milk simultaneously revolts and attracts her. In Christlow’s clinical, white space the texture, taste and sound of milk is explored in a durational piece. She is the consumer and the producer of it, the baby and the mother at the same time. Her fascination prompts her to repeat her actions over and over again, re-visiting three different stations where her sucking, slurping and spitting give a unique rhythm to her actions. With full control and mindful endurance, Christlow is a captivating performer to watch. – Franciska

(MmM)ilk-me-by-Beth-Christlow

The Cuming Out Party by Aimee Hall

Cuming Out Party entrepreneur and social specialist Jessie took us through her services, dealing with relatives at family parties convinced that it’s a phase and how best to cope with knobs in bars who demand proof that you’re a lesbian (NB there’s only so much she can do about the latter). Taking a volunteer from the audience, she embarked on the festivities of a true Cuming Out Party, concluding with a singalong to a certain Diana Ross classic. Satirical yet celebratory, we came out and wanted the world to know, you’ve got to let it show. – Hattie

 

Art Itch by Georgia Bate

She entered the space collecting objects painted a strange turquoise. She pulled a sheet of foil from the rucksack on her back, stuck it to the wall and stood behind it to change, like a caterpillar in a cocoon. She emerged triumphantly as a turquoise clad artiste, silently handing out wacky glasses and pulling more and more fantastical turquoise objects from her enormous rucksack. She continued to inhabit the halls of Festival 41 for the rest of the evening, playing ping pong, crawling blue snails up people’s knees and hiding inside her foil fortress. She wouldn’t let me inside, the arty so and so. – Hattie

 

Old Wives Tales – Karina Lucy Brown

The inspiration behind Old Wives Tales, as the name suggests, came from the stories we’re told as children, although in this case the prince does not appear to be the hero. Four dancers conveyed the story, choreographed by Karina Brown, as the music expanded and built to the piece’s climax. Bodies twirling and falling in unison, the performers danced for their lives. Don’t go down to the woods alone. A male ballet dancer might come for you. – Hattie

 

Performing the Performance by Elsa Grace Collingwood

Upon entering Princess Elsa’s kingdom of West Ham we were sent to different group challenges, hoping to find the mystical, ephemeral notion of the meaning of performance. Observing woodland creatures frolicking in the wild, to interviews between the Princess herself and her loving subjects in recorded in a public park, performance is clearly not as straightforward as perhaps the citizens of West Ham might have thought. After stopping for juice, biscuits and a chat with Princess Elsa, we then entered the kingdom’s dark underbelly, greeted by the most narcissistic and social media obsessed of the Princess’ subjects. Playing Truth or Dare and enacting private rituals to put on Instagram, we performed versions of ourselves for the camera. By the time we left it was clear that, as one of the Princess’ interviewees suggested, ‘everything is a performance’. – Hattie

 

Aum by Anu Prakash

The smell of incense weighed heavy in the air. Bowls and containers filled with liquids and objects littered the stage, milk, tampons, figurines and icons ritualistically moved and placed. An Indian song soared and looped, its repetitive melody almost hypnotic. Prakash’s slow movements and the heady yet relaxing atmosphere created an aura of comforting ritual. As she left the stage, the incense spiralled and the atmosphere slowly faded. – Hattie

 

my forest without echoes – Moa Johansson

a) my forest without echoes is an hour-long durational piece in which Moa Johansson has full agency. Her face covered in hair, she blindly reaches for metal bars and dry twigs to create an artificial forest. And while durational pieces tend to follow one consistent rhythm, Johansson’s movements cannot be expected: one minute she is spending three minutes to break a twig, the next she suddenly unravels many yards of brown paper with erupting energy, showing a wide range of different dynamics. Her movements and stillness are marked with her occasional “woo” sounds as she yells out into her imaginary forest. Marking her body with her materials, she ends up in an entangled nest, uncomfortable and uninviting. She lays there, creating a final image that stays with you long after her piece is over. – Franciska

b) I originally only intended to stay in Moa Johansson’s hour long durational performance for ten minutes. I emerged from the main space an hour later. Covered in sheets of paper with architectural diagrams on, Johansson scraped herself along the wall causing them to steadily fall, unveiling her naked body underneath. She manoeuvred metal poles, dropping them into place with a sharp, echoing bang, and marking herself with charcoal where the ends of the metal cylinders had pressed into her flesh. Breaking the sticks of her forest with her body, she encased herself in them, creating a nest-like structure as she and the forest became inseparable. The echoes faded and silence fell. – Hattie

my-forest-without-echoes-by-Moa-Johansson-(credits-to-Sojourner-Hazelwood-Connell)

Photo Credit: Sojourner Hazelwood-Connell

one of the greatest elegies in the english language – Michael Green

With no wall-text to read, the spectator is invited to Michael Green’s exhibition with openness to interpretation, prompting them to walk around and discover connections on their own. The exhibition, loosely connected to Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse, is both domestic and sterile. The pieces are scattered around the room with precision, creating images that allude to the sea, the sky, and the familiarity of home. With merely a small booklet that you can collect from a shelf, Green presents a unique relationship between the written and the visual. – Franciska

one-of-the-greatest-elegies-in-the-english-language-by-Michael-Green

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