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 More Reviews from Festival 41

And we’re back with more fascinating insights into the themes and nature of performance made right here at Queen Mary during Festival 41 from 17-20 May 2016.

Below you can read the written responses by from our finalists; Hattie Long, Georgia Bate and Franciska Ery to the final batch of performances.

.

Reminiscence by Keita Ikeda (pictured above)

Ikeda’s digital installation, an expression though light, sound and smoke, makes for a mesmerising and enveloping experience. From the clamour of the Hackney Showroom bar, stepping into ‘Reminiscence’ is like stepping into a mind that is in a trace. The studio space is transformed by and filled with shifting light and sound. Transfixed audience members sit, stand and lie silhouetted against the constantly changing and sculptural light. Moving through a spectrum of colours, beams fall down through the space onto bodies, then evolve into semi-translucent walls in which smoke marbles – triggering a need to reach out and attempt to touch what I know is intangible. This is technology that prompts interaction, evokes mental processes and produces a calming and almost magical environment. The artist is behind the tech desk and present in the calibration of the technology, illustrating how the digital can be used to tap into and effect human experience. – Georgia

.

Welcome to AA by Daniela Hirshova

What if you could attend a support group to treat your addiction to art? Daniela Hirshova’s satirical piece invites a circle of participants (including two lecturers from Queen Mary) to discuss their toxic artistic passions. Due to the audience participation, the piece requires some degree of improvisation, but that does not seem to be a problem to Hirshova, who successfully follows the structure of her performance while keeping it highly entertaining. The audience laughs without hardly any interruption, but underneath the comedy Welcome to AA might be hitting close to home: pursuing the arts has many risks and does not offer financial stability, and Hirshova successfully presents this issue in a comedic manner. – Franciska

.

Welcome-to-AA-by-Daniela-Hirshova

When Death Us Do Part by Peter Walker

Peter Walker waits for his audience on top of a balcony in the Hackney Showroom’s main space, looking down on them with knotted eyebrows. This opening image perfectly sums up When Death Us Do Part, in which Walker portrays Peter A. Goodman, a man who believes he is the best man in the room, which is why he is so baffled that he is still single. On his quest to happiness, his plan is to conform and get married right there and then to an audience member. Walker’s aggressive tone and rush to get married are used to explore the concept of marriage and the desire to reach ultimate happiness. Using a harness, melodramatic music and unexpected audience participation, Walker’s piece is highly intense and uniquely engaging. – Franciska

.

Story of a refugee by Milica Opacic

Upon entrance the audience is separated – half of the spectators can sit with Milica Opacic in a candlelit tent, while the rest of us are left to observe from the outside. Opacic rocks tiny figures of refugees with a hypnotic energy, occasionally spraying them with water and abruptly cutting them off, letting them fall unceremoniously to the floor. The selected few can look at photographs and read letters to gain some context, but all the outsiders can do is watch, unable to prevent the cruel cutting of the tiny figures’ strings. – Franciska

.

Soul Spacing by Cain McCallam

Cain McCallam presents a durational piece featuring projection, music, and wall art that is continuously growing throughout the performance. The established aesthetic is constantly changing, resulting in a colourful chaos in which McCallam dances in a trance-like state. – Franciska

.

Bamboo Senses by Sojourner Hazelwood-Connell

A ritual is made palpable, incense burns, a bell rings, piles of bamboo canes encircle open space into which the performer steps. The audience sit around the edges, on the outside of the circle, in the centre Sojourner Hazelwood-Connel undertakes her own sensory ritual. Water, smoke, sound, sand, matches and movement are all used to enliven the space and open it out to the audience. Sojourner spins around with bamboo canes in hand which swish through the air extending and accentuating her movement. She pours water over herself which christens the audience as it is flicks out from the spinning canes. Sojourner makes and breaks the space in dynamic movements, thrown down, the canes clatter on the concrete floor. ‘Bamboo Senses’ is a vigorous and exciting piece, the use of objects and the commitment to movement by the performer serving to intensify how motion is witnessed in performance. – Georgia

.

Reality Check by Dominika Visy

On entering the studio space at Hackney Showroom, we are given a flyer for ‘an evening of poetry’ typed in ornate affected characters. A woman recites a poem onstage, then looks up at us in surprise. Framed as if we have stumbled upon her preparation for a poetry recital, Dominika Visy goes on to lampoon the conceited and sentimental love poetry of some ‘Dominika Visy’. She reads it in farce, drawing attention to the limitations and evasions of words and providing us with an antidote – experiences of love are performed through the domestic. Here are relationships realised in tissues, in blowing up balloons and trying to iron a fitted sheet. The realm of princes and images of abundant and gushing nature are confronted with metaphors which are created through the interaction with everyday objects. The ingenious simplicity and honesty with which Visy pits her experiences of love against the kind of love that represented in poetry results in a funny and refreshing performance, as well as a wry and self-deprecating interrogation of the reality of aesthetics expressed in art. – Georgia

.

I Did It Because I Wanted To by Martha Pailing

Gutsy, voluble and grotesque, Martha Pailing’s piece is a wonderfully unseemly and weird outpouring of speech. ‘I did It because I Wanted To’ sees the performer in white towel, hair dripping wet as if she has just stepped out of the bath that is projected behind her. Reading from a towelled diary, Pailing traverses a terrain of people in all their messy and vulgar brilliance. Different voices and faces move in and out of focus throughout the performance and it’s hard to know where the personal stops and other people begin. The language of the piece has a strange distinctive poetry with an insatiable and greedy cadence. The pedestrian nature of the performance slides into the surreal, however in its strangeness it taps into some truth. It is a piece which takes delight in shirking the pleasant and the polite. A look behind the façade of decency which unearths a kind of invigorating confessional brutality, an embrace of the uncouth truth, of what we might want to say but don’t. – Georgia

.

Exposed by Clarissa Blake

Over the course of an hour Clarissa Blake pushes herself as she undertakes an exercise routine. Accompanied by three screens which show her performing archetypes of women which can also be read as versions of herself. In the dark, neon shapes painted onto her skin stand out and highlight muscles. This luminous circuit training brings to mind exercise fads, a workout sold as rave – the new ways which the possibility and need for a flawless body are sold to women. But there is no music and no instructor, instead there are tablet computers on the floor, the technology dictating Blake’s movements and how long she does them. The audience are dotted around the edges of the space but the performer is isolated in her effort. Her face obscured in the dark, it is in her body, in the amplified sound of her efforts which emanate out from speakers and in the slap of feet against concrete floor that we witness the transition from energetic to exhausted. The performer’s increasingly drained body placed alongside the three versions of the performer on the screens, draws attention to dissonance between the real and ideal. The actual effort of exercise on the one hand, and the unassuming, poised and performed exercise on the other. The action of wearing out the body feels like a way to release it from the pressures of the specific kinds of representation that are shown on the screens. In this disquieting piece of endurance, the drive to ‘perfection’ or ‘success’ is realised in the action of movement and its effect on the performer. – Georgia

.

Artpocalypse: Zut Alors! by Becky Rourke

Becky Rourke cannot do magic, and she knows it. Her performance is concerned with the failure to entertain, featuring anticlimactic reveals and magic tricks that don’t work. Her eagerness to create something magical builds up to a sweet ending with confetti, ABBA, and a celebration of finding an audience member’s card. It is truly an optimistic and playful performance. – Franciska

.

THE RISEFALLRISEFALLRISE OF AJAX MCFURY [or HOW I LEARNT TO STOP WORRYING AND BECOME A LEGEND] by Reece Connolly

Ajax McFury enacts a resurrection right in front of us, only to be finished off again. He is a man who courts death and driven by a desire for immortality. With his performance Reece Connolly investigates the figure of the living legend. However, there is never any real danger displayed, and Connolly intentionally mocks iconic stunts to place the emphasis on the presentation of bravery, rather than bravery itself. His cardboard, DIY aesthetic seems to imply that all of this is a facade, and the quest to become forever remembered is, in reality, futile. – Franciska

.

THE-RISEFALLRISEFALLRISE-OF-AJAX-MCFURY-[or-HOW-I-LEARNT-TO-STOP-WORRYING-AND-BECOME-A-LEGEND]-by-Reece-Connolly

.

They Speak by Mira Yonder

An intriguing umbrella creature blinks bright lights, peering out at the audience arranged on the tiered seating in Hackney Showroom. In the light, the creature is revealed crouched, with limbs covered in tights extending out from the black umbrella – making hands and feet into something more like paws. Strange noises emanate from it, as if it is playing, encountering, and working something out. It flirts with, but doesn’t relegate itself to a recognised language, but its noise is not nonsense either. The audience find something and respond to the modulating sounds which seem to be approaching language from afar. The creature is vulnerable but cheeky, discovering the world and putting its feelers out. There is something, not only of being foreign, but being an outsider which comes through in the piece. ‘They Speak’ was a peculiar, eccentric and absorbing piece which made me consider how we approach what is alien and how the alien might approach us. – Georgia

.

 They-Speak-by-Mira-Yonder-(credits-to-Sojourner-Hazelwood-Connell)

Photo credit: Sojourner Hazelwood-Connell

.

hours of hair by Vimbai Gavure

Vimbai Gavure stands unmoving, her eyes obscured and body draped in black cloth she is elevated like a monument in the centre of the studio space at Hackney Showroom. She is lit by the flicker of television screens stacked upon one another and on stands which make a semi-circle around her. Braids of hair stretch out from her head to the screens, mapping and connecting up the space, like a web or the roof of a tent. The looming and impassive version of the artist is surrounded by yet more versions of herself, each involved in the labour of pulling twisting brushing, braiding, doing and undoing hair. An amplified straining and creaking sound of hair-work, repeats unabated throughout the piece. The sound creates a tense atmosphere, infecting and shaping the artists movement whilst conjuring up the pain and effort involved in achieving hairstyles. As the audience tentatively make their way around the space, ducking under braids, the figure begins to slowly move her head from side to side, like an automaton. As she picks up speed the movement ripples out along the braids and coins drop from her hair, then cascade onto the floor. ‘hours of hair’ highlights the supreme effort and cost which goes into haircare by women of colour serves as an interesting frame to examine the effect of the white-washed ideals of beauty perpetuated in western society. – Georgia

.

The Quest To Find: The Richard Curtis Quality by Laura Pegler

Laura Pegler is determined to find the ‘Richard Curtis Quality, and worryingly determined to find the man himself. With the help of audience members and the ‘celluloid-time-Curtis-inium’ machine our buoyant host stages chaotic realisations of moments from Curtis films before our very eyes. But when everything doesn’t go to plan, our host realises we need to look for magic elsewhere. ‘The Quest To Find : The Richard Curtis Quality’ is a fun and affirming performance which ponders what it is that we are searching for and suggests that it’s okay to ‘not feel okay’ all the time. – Georgia

 

Re-Tale by Monique Geraghty

Heels are clicking in Hackney Showroom’s main space. Monique Geraghty enters and steps into a spotlight. Her performance is about obedience and endurance using three workers in retail to frame her context. Geraghty’s piece almost operates as a short one-person show, allowing her to embody different characters but ultimately point to the same message. – Franciska

 

Something I Want You to Know by Joshua Young

Joshua Young’s intentionally explicit piece features a white, glowing closet. Young’s shadow playfully moves around as he invites an audience member to join him in the closet; repeats the word ‘gay’ over and over again; and tucks a gay flag into his pants. His whimsical piece is paired with elaborate technical elements such as live feed, projection, and several sound effects that successfully aid the humorous, light tone of his performance. – Franciska

 Something-I-Want-You-to-Know-by-Joshua-Young

Ya Mam’s Ya Dad by Maria Hunter

Maria Hunter enters the stage and starts tapping, singing along. From the very first moment to the last, her performance is absurdly entertaining, featuring two performers poorly lip-syncing to Hunter’s words, a short sequence about nervous breakdowns, and even an interview with a blue papier-mâché toe. And while you might find yourself asking from time to time, ‘what am I watching?’, the performance is unquestioningly unique and grotesquely funny. – Franciska

 

Women and War by Dinara Chenuka Punchihewa

Dinara Punchihewa does not speak, instead we hear her telling a story through voice over. She stands firmly on the almost bare stage, using a sequence of movements to illustrate the horrific nature of sexual assault. The haunting lighting illuminates her face stern with commitment and stamina, almost expressionless, even when she opens her mouth to release a silent scream. Her piece is difficult to watch, and yet you cannot look away. – Franciska

 

The Shqipdon Osmani Show by Shqipdon Osmani

It is really what it says on the tin – Shqipdon Osmani presents The Shqipdon Osmani Show, a game show including questions about performance, art, and, of course, Shqipdon Osmani. Using three contesters who are audience members, Osmani is an intentionally insulting and narcissistic host, successfully triggering laughter with self-referential parody questions that never let the contesters win. And while many of this self-aware comedy might be considered a commentary on performance and art, the highlight is really a twist ending that concludes this game show with a final punch line. – Franciska

The-Shqipdon-Osmani-Show-by-Shqipdon-Osman

Join us on social media...