Review: Experimentica Day #2 @ Chapter Arts Centre
Experimentica Day #2
Chapter Arts Centre
Thursday 5th November 2015
Recovering from the "high" of the first day, I ventured softly to the second day of Experimentica, full of all sorts of delights. Slightly tired and in need of more than a healthy amount of coffee, I paced myself for a lengthy day.
Starting at Spillers Records, the vinyl party from the night prior continued in a bring your own music afternoon. Cardiffians can gloat about having the oldest record shop in the world, even if it's moved at least twice. The famous shop still remains in Morgan Arcade and I was thankfully aware of the new location. I kicked the music off with my vinyl copy of Lohengrin by Richard Wagner.
I put on the prelude and spoke of how I didn't care for the piece at first, but it grew on me after different hearings and experiences.
I made the whole shop quieten down and contemplate, as this rousing music, mainly for high strings floated above us. We saw again performers from the night before and those who had yet to preform, give stories and their accompany scores. Lost fingers, birth at Christmas, dating someone with the same name and other peculiar tales came from people. Like before this was relaxed and filled with funny moments.
Having become enamored in the Listening Party, there wasn't enough time to make it over to Canton for Richard Bowers essay on the film Blow Up. The next show was from Doppelgangster with their take on Titanic. Utilising James Cameron's film and his awards speeches, the piece looked at the "truth" of the real disaster, with survivor testimonials as well. The uncertainty of the events that "night to remember" are still shrouded in mystery and the show looks at the comprises from the film. We still don't know for certain what the band's last song was and just how the ship broke into two and crashed onto the ocean floor. We may never know...
Taking place inside a shipping crate just outside of Chapter, it began to rain and we were handed emergency ponchos. Half the audience left during the show. My poncho seemed keen to leave as well, the wind constantly bloating it away from my body. This performance art was very hard work, the microphones didn't work half the time and I left it totally baffled.
An Australian man quoted Cameron and floundered around, urinating into a champagne bucket at the start, inducing vomit later on. Two other actors quoted the film as Kate and Jack, flinging props around. The smoke and pianola were a nice touch. The show was too free and easy with the source material, some would say being totally disrespectful to the victims of the disaster. Had this show gone on more, I feel I may have contracted hypothermia myself.
Swiftly recovering from a near cold by the last show, the next piece was a very brief one at that. We can't escape Sarah Duffy, as she is seen on the front of November's brochure for Chapter. As we gently walked into Media Point, she is dressed in an immaculate blue suit, with lighting to complement this. The vibe is very David Lynch and the atmosphere though brief, is sensational.
Duffy sings, but it appears that she isn't really. Using belly speaking (talking without using the lips) she sings Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode, one of my favourite 80s tracks. In her delivery, the song still holds up and raises concern for language itself and the nature of diction. Her little timid, half bow is also delightful and I went to hear her sing again some 15 minutes later, to hear this again.
No rest for the wicked, as the next show was on the cusp of starting in the Studio. Featuring Gareth Clark, (F.E.A.R.) is close to a smack in the face, in theatrical terms. A lowly sort of guy, he details his total fears in life, throughout life. The sheer expressions of anger are relatable, yet always disturbing and uneasy. Many questions are raised about society and morality, but we don't always get the answers.
His crocodile mask is telling, but my own fear as an audience member came from when he sat next to me and engaged in frequent eye contact and banter like conversation.
The audience laughed as I nodded my head, after being asked if I recall the 1970s public service announcements (I'm not that old). For these brief moments some audience members were part of the show. His grilling of us, left me ruffled. In his asking of how many people have had an AIDs test, I put my hand up, only then realising that I actually had not. He knew how to stimulate us and leave us exhausted. A powerful blast of theatre.
Ending the day was Sleepdogs and The Bullet and the Bass Trombone. The idea of a whole orchestra dying to me is horrific and an uneasy thought. Composer Timothy X Atack give a sort of pseudo-real testimony of an orchestra on tour, leading to disaster. He arranges his music from the sounds of the country the musicians went to. The human like Whistling bird, street scenes and local music all flutter in the scores. Musicians who survived the "war" account in their journals the unexpected, turn of events that fell upon them on tour. The sheer boredom after staying put, then leads to the urgency to get back home as soon as possible.
The beauty of the piece is the interplay between the composer as a speaker and the orchestra, who are no longer with us, as the absent heroes who lost their lives in vain. Music stands are spread around the theatre, with no one to play them, as a chilling statement of death for those who are left behind. Atack has nice vibrations in his music, at times Minimalist, other times like a film score. His layering of spoken text and sound effects from his recordings also mesh well into his evocative and moving sound world.
I'm beginning to understand the truth...
Bring Your Own Record/Listening Party: 4 stars
Titanic: 1 stars
Enjoy the Silence: 4 stars
(F.E.A.R.): 5 stars
The Bullet and the Bass Trombone: 4 stars
Experimentica continues at Chapter Arts Centre till Sunday 8th November 2015.
Photo Credit: Camden Arts Centre
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