Sophie Partridge went to see a sharing of a Drake Music’s Seasons 4.0 an Unlimited commission at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green on Friday 5 September.
Seasons 4.0 is a collaboration across electro-acoustic music, contemporary dance and interactive technology. This event was the culmination of a two-week period of intense research and development shared to gather feedback and shape the project for the next stage.
It felt good to be at Rich Mix and Far from the Maddening Crowd at Southbank to spend some time in an intimate space. The performance was led by composer Sonia Allori with dancer Sheron Wray, Techy Fleeta Siegal and Danny Braverman as Dramaturg.
With a few problems to begin, where technology was intended to enable the audience to interact with the performers, in real time the piece began with a slightly cheesy opening with multi-talented Amelia Cavallo as detective, who having discovered a `body', then went on to play various instruments including harp, ukelele and accordian. The score by Sonia Allori was taken from Vivaldi's Four Seasons and was wonderful to hear played live. It's hoped that after this initial R&D time, the musicians will be able to be more prominent in any future developments. They themselves provided much visual content, with some words spoken and sung.
Back to the stage. An audience member was invited to draw chalk around the `body'. Two more cast members removed the body and then the whole piece went all Frantic Assembly into a Movement section! The use of movement within the piece was strong, always there to reinforce the characters objusctives.
Dressed in boiler suits with brightly coloured scarves and belts, which the two performers placed across varying parts of each other's bodies. Their relationship playful as if children initially, but grew darker; perhaps between lovers; or enemies. When does a game become no longer a game? That idea seemed at the heart of the piece.
The two female performers fought over the chair but then one dominated the other (or did she submit?) and is bound by her, to it. Suddenly images all too pertinent at present were conjured for me, with captives and their impending, terrible fates being forefront in the news... On screen images of `games' then flashed up, signifying varying levels of technology needed to participate, such as Pacman, Snakes & Ladders, Blind Man's Buff'... If the techy stuff had been working the audience were meant to rate safe levels of fear, controlling how far they wanted the game to go, scaled from Escalate to Surrender. Personally I was glad it didn't work!!
Another chalk square drawn around the chair and the captive became more distressed under the interrogation with her clothes being pulled open. But suddenly the sequence was broken with the idea that the pair had both consented to their game roles, seemingly. Now, the interrogator refuses to be interrogated and I wondered was it coincidence or symbolic that she the former Interrogator is white and the other character black?
Another movement sequence, with slow and pointed gestures, ended in stillness. We were then returned to the empty chalk drawn on the ground, where the body lay. It is never revealed conclusively which of the – if indeed either of them! - is the final victim. As audience, we were given red ribbons to wear around our wrists at the start and end of the piece. We were invited to lay them within the empty chalk outline. I asked Sharon, “What'll happen if I don't?” and she answered, “That's Absolutely fine.”
“I'll stay here then!” I replied. And I did because I don't really like `games'. Did like the piece tho!