Review: Experimentica Day #5 @ Chapter Arts Centre
Experimentica Day #5
Chapter Arts Centre
Sunday 8th November 2015
It's a sad and draining experience be to know when Experimentica finishes for another year. Who knows what sort of mania will the Welsh capital be in for 2016? What sort of interesting retrospective of a phrase will linger over all the work featured? (with their standard theme of choice).
I was a bit irked at missing Seven Falls. It was Sunday morning and it was all the way down the bay, with little time to head back to Chapter in time.
So, my day started with the Dog Kennel Project and their Shelly on a Loop in the Studio. Reenacting the famous baseball bat scene from The Shining, film buffs know too well the extensive amount of takes poor Shelly Long had to do, trying to defend herself from Jack Nicholson. The joy of this installation was the large amount of audience partition, by way of becoming Shelly with no less than a real baseball bat. Did I take part, you say? But of course.
Actors strolled around the space (some quoting lines, others gesticulating) as each participant was directed in their own interpretation of the role. I loved this so much, I did it twice. I flailed by bat around like there was no tomorrow, gave off many scared looks and attended to mimic Shelly's shrill and cracked voice. Whilst in this moment, you are exposed to true vulnerabilities, as spectators look on. It was also a very finny piece, as you take in peoples reactions to being totally petrified. I would say this was a highlight of the entire festival, and I am super grateful for the experience.
In Let's All Just Calm Down, Tom Cassani gave a sort of honest and insightful look at magic and the idea of total truth. A nail appeared to go into his nostril with the help of a hammer, only to reveal it was bendy and gave us only the illusion of it going in. A remark made about "if I appear nervous, please remember it is because I am human", remained a real quote. In grabbing an audience member to sit with him, his departure at the closing had the applause go to this lady who remained up there, who remained perplexed. He delivered well, only I felt it could have been longer.
Popping down to see Tim Etchells gallery piece Some Imperatives, every day was a different message in Chapter's bar, filled with black brush strokes. Today's message said: "PEOPLE SHOULD ASK THEMSELVES ONCE AND FOR ALL WHICH SIDE ARE THEY ACTUALLY ON". The statements have been provoking me to better thoughts and could even help my own self worth. I'd like to think people in the a bar took this words in and were not to busy milling around their own self worth too much.
I Hear Your Voice at the Back of My Throat felt like an odd experience. A declaration of love to Irish folk song and it's fragile sustainability today. Singers Phil Hession and Phil Owen mostly had a good natter about what it meant to sing these pieces, gradually leaving their culture for good (hopefully not). The talking moments felt far to smug and are of little interest to anyone who can't grasp the plight of the fading folk song scene.
The live vocals were grand, with them turned away from us singing in a corner to (apparently) improve the acoustics. The old recordings were crackly and in their own type of tune, as this work bounced around its practicalities. We were handed There's the Day, and expected to sing alone ourselves to a song we Welsh don't know, but quickly got to. This was an unsure piece, which would perhaps be better suited to a documentary format.
To end this five day festival was Story #1, created by Greg Wohead and Rachel Mars. For the first hour, the audience is left confused as to why we are sitting through an episode of Come Dine with Me. We become enamoured in the four contestants and their stupid antics to win ?1,000 to see who can prepare the best meal. The video is cut short just before the declaration of who's the winner and we moaned in disbelief (we got to see the winner at the end). This is when the real show begins...
Greg and Rachel emerge onto the stage and engage us with absurdist stories inspired by these CDWM characters that involve threesomes, aliens and cannibalism. They both talk about themselves, dancing and moving in hilarious ways, telling of what their families expect from them and how they intended to have these people from the TV, here in Cardiff with us (to no avail). It's more telling that they didn't come and scenes from random porn films that quickly become fail videos, also shocking reveal a delicate nature and our attempts to laugh things off. I do hope Greg and Rachel come back and pick another TV curiosity to send off into creative outer space soon.
The truth is finally revealed.
Shelly on a Loop: 5 stars
Let's All Just Calm Down: 3 stars
I Hear Your Voice at the Back of My Throat: 3 stars
Story #1: 4 stars
Some Imperatives: 4 stars
Experimentica will continue at Chapter Arts Centre in the Autumn of 2016.
George Barber's Akula Dream continues at the Chapter Gallery till Sunday 10th January 2016.
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Image credit: Chapter Arts Centre Website