Review: Experimentica Day #1 @ Chapter Arts Centre
Experimentica Day #1
Chapter Arts Centre
Wednesday 4th November 2015
For 15 years, Chapter Arts Centre have been host to a festival of weird, wacky and deranged work. Experimentica has a theme this year: "Are you asking for the evidence of truth?". It's quite vague and I feel a lot of ideas and themes can fit into this so called statement for the entire five days.
The first day would see me all over the centre, starting in the Common Room for Your Call Is Important To Us. Brilliantly devised by Karin Diamond and Duncan Bett, the piece brilliant captures the constant existential crises encounters by call centre operatives (based on their own time doing this line of work). Big bucks reign supreme and any real sense of being genuine are shot out of the water, for more efficient and professional phone calls. Real human moments are cutoff and seen as major negatives.
A potential suicide victim is ignored due to heavy phone traffic. Toilet breaks are non existent and any hopes of real acting are quashed by the agonising tedium of the job. Won't pensioners ever learn what the music for the Shipping Forecast is called? This was a great piece to start with, well performed by two actors who had struggled in their previous, empathy rich career.
I then swiftly went to Media Point for Off The Page. Curated by a pretty nervous, yet enthusiastic Samuel Hasler, it was Jeremy Dixon who set us off. With brochures for the festival, tape, glue, markers and scissors, we revelled in "black out poetry", finding hidden phrases, words and sentences in the original text. In the front page I found "den of comfort" and inside the brochure "people ask once, actually". It's great to see what other people come up with as well.
We all lingered over the work at the end, as it was pressed against a wall. In the second part of the event Thomas Williams gave us new writing, in his new endeavour of wordsmithery, after an established career in printmaking. Although not always engaging, the use of stream of conscious wordplay and observations are humorous and insightful.
I couldn't miss an opportunity to hear the eight hour reading of Charles Reznikoff's Testimony: The United States. Catching the tail end of the show (it started at midday), I sat for an hour and listened with great care. The piece details countless murders, accidents, suicides and other terrible fates, spanning decades of the country in its infancy.
It was all morbidly fascinating and you craved more and more terrible stories, taken from court tribunals of real events that took place. Readers Mike Pearson and John Rowley must have read out thousands of words, in a true feet of endurance, occasionally nibbling on fruit or sipping water. Ian Watson added greatly to the atmosphere with electronics, a la John Cage. For me it ended all too soon and I was thirsty for more...
It was then on to the theatre for PME- Art: The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information. This sort of vinyl party was hosted by friendly French Canadians, who were keen to add stories to every song played (as long as the songs aren't stopped before they have finished!). The mood was relaxed and a great variety of music was played, but sadly this classical nut didn't get to hear any of this sort. The discovery of Laurie Anderson, Dolly Deluxe (who mix opera with rock) and the fragile vocals of Daniel Johnston are all fuel to my ever increasing taste and education in popular music. One host mishearing a Prince lyric in one of his songs, is now imbedded into my brain.The experience felt too chill to be considered "art", but after all...music is the universal language that does breaks down barriers of all kinds.
The truth is yet to be revealed...
Your Call Is Important To Us: 4 stars
Off The Page: 3 stars
Testimony: The United States: 4 stars
The DJ Who Gave Too Much Infomation: 3 stars
Overall: 4 stars
Experimentica continues at Chapter Arts Centre till Sunday 8th November 2015.
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Photo Credit: Chapter Arts Centre