SHOOT FESTIVAL 2014
22nd November 2014
Shop Front Theatre, Coventry
On the 22nd November, Coventry was treated to a burst of fresh new talent, from and for all ages, in the form of Shoot Festival, brought together by Paul O’Donnell and Jen Davis, members of the REP Foundry Scheme, an artistic development programme at Birmingham REP Theatre. It brought together 10 variety of acts, from local and afar, to showcase their performances, and below you can see a run-down of those exact acts, and my thoughts on them and the whole day in general.
Bhangra Ska Sitar
The first act of the day, and also climaxing the whole festival, later on in the day, was Chris Cook and Sneha Singh, who brought the music from Coventry, including Bhangra and Ska dance floor fillers to life by playing the Sitar. Sneha, a Bollywood dancer, was present on stage during the act, and entertained the audience with her dance moves, and also invited the audience onto the stage for the final song of the climaxing show to join her in dancing along to smooth and powerful music brought together by Chris, at the front of the stage.
I felt that this act was fresh and vibrant, and to see the audience enjoying the act was a great joy to see. Chris is a very talented gent and he looked very calm and smooth whilst he was playing the Sitar, whilst Sneha really entertained, with a great big smile on her face, to the audience, who I could see dancing and clapping along the whole way through the act.
Glow, a visual and performing arts organisation brought together by Gloria and Francis Lowe, took digital drawing and and traditional fairy tales together to bring a children’s show like no other. Francis, a skilled Illustrator, had on hand a digital drawing tablet, that when he scribbled down his creations, they were projected on a screen for all the audience to see. He even handed some of the children from the audience his pen, which they then created and had a go and their own creations. Gloria on the other hand was the storyteller, and was a natural. She was extremely lively with the audience participation, allowing them to join her on stage to create these stories, and when she acted out some of the characters, like the grandfather, and the witch from Hansel and Gretel, she really made the audience, and myself, laugh and really captivated everyone in the room. I had never seen anything like this before, and It all felt really creative and was a great way to attract children into storytelling, and makes you wonder why this technology hasn’t been used in classes already. A Fantastic production which I have no doubt will inspire young children for years to come.
Brought together by Next Dope Alliance, and representing the quote, ‘Give a Finger, Take an Arm’, Marius Mates and Andrei Roman took to the space to present a dance piece story based on Bboying, otherwise known as break dancing. Their only piece of set was a single light hanging from the wall, which made the piece feel very dark, which was probably their focus, especially when they were trying to convey the emotions such as indifference, and losing the hopes and desire to live. I was very impressed with the physically that both of the performers had, being able to carry each their on their back, and was a clear way of showing how you can watch a dance piece without words, but being able to understand the story behind it even more through the movement.
Shakespeare on the Streets
The Chrysalis Collective, a group of Birmingham Graduates, was formed in 2013, and their debut production of Twelfth Night, in May 2014, was performed as part of the RSC Open Spaces 2013 - 2016. For Shoot Festival, they brought together extracts from some of Shakespeare's well known plays in a very creative and innovative way, as they took to the city arcade, drawing in audiences and members of the public, as they performed a piece from Midsummers Night Dream, and also an extract from Romeo and Juliet just outside of the Shop Front Theatre.
I was really transfixed and immersed in the performances by the actors and musician, because I thought that it was a very clever way of teaching Shakespeare to audiences who may have struggled to understand some of the scenes, like I was at school. I love street Theatre, and to members of the public, this would have been the closest they would of got to viewing that type of theatre, and just seeing the public stop to watch just showed how interested they were in wanting to know what was being performed. Christa Harris, the co-creator and Director from the company, who comes from Coventry, spoke to me about how she wanted the women in the extracts to have a more dominant role, and I believe that was very clear, especially in the Romeo and Juliet scene, where we found Romeo to be on the balcony, and Juliet to be on the ground.
A Burndt Out Ward
Taken from his upcoming 2015 novel, Politics of the Asylum, Adam Steiner took to the stage to read out a passage from the book, A Burndt Out Ward. Dressed in hospital cleaner clothing with a NHS lanyard and badge, he read from a clipboard throughout his whole piece, which at times felt very distracting when viewing his piece, because It felt like there wasn't that much of an engagement between himself and the audience, and whenever he did put his clipboard down to his side to talk, time didn't pass long before he was then finding where he was on his pages, and continuing on.
Based on real life events, Richard Walls one man play of Clubmartyr, set in Berlin, July 2014, drew in a crowd that had them laughing with hysterics throughout. The monologue itself wasn't exactly a laugh a minute performance, but the way Richard straight away eased himself into the performance, by the first laugh, you could see how relaxed he was soon to become, which I think gave him a great chance to breath whenever the audience was praising him. I really enjoyed this piece, and I feel if he was to take this further, I’d like him to see if he could act out a few of the precious moments that he mentioned in his piece, whether that being by himself or with help from other actors appearing on stage.
How Does It Feel…?
This thought-provoking and eye catching performance from Tracy Veck truly drew me into her work as she moved around the stage. Looking at how a disabled body is viewed between herself and peers makes you wonder how no-one can see any different to what she was trying to express in her piece. Performing over narration, Tracy danced and moved around the stage, whilst her inner thoughts about what people might think of her, and how she thinks of other people, were being relayed over the top. I couldn't take my eyes off her performance, thinking about how brave she must of been to create something so powerful, and out of all of the performances that happened during shoot, I hope this was the piece of work that audiences went away with having shed a new light of disabled artists.
The Penultimate act of the night, and without a doubt one of my favourite acts for the fact of story and physicality, came from Highly Sprung Emerge, entitled Platform X. Taking place on a train station platform, four actors took to the stage to show how each of their music selections from their headphones conveys their energy when performing. I think the reason why I enjoyed this performance so much was the fact that It really shocked me and how I see dance in theatre work, because before I have never felt like when I have watched dance, it has never had a story behind the moves, but this piece just made so much sense. The four young actors on stage each brought their own style, and hearing ‘Quiet’ from Matilda the Musical again, after over a year ago seeing it in London, really made me smile and didn't stop me from miming along to the words as it played.
I’m Not Like Other Girls
I don’t think I will never understand how brave some actors can be. To stand up in front of an audience, with the majority, if not all of them not being familiar to you, must be daunting, but to them tell a story so hard-hitting like Susie Sillett’s, show’s true bravery. I believe Susie is one of a kind, to trust us all in telling her story, and hearing everything that has happened in her life, makes you wonder how she can truly be so calm and collective she is when performing to us, the audience. A truly inspirational person and story to end off Shoot Festival.
Overall, I think Shoot Festival has proven something that It may not have set out to achieve before. I think It has proven to people that there isn’t just one stereotype genre, style, race, ethnicity, or group of people that come to watch the arts, weather thats Dance, Music or Drama, because instead they have shown that it is all indeed for everyone. Making the festival free of charge, and warmly welcoming anyone off the streets to join in on the day, makes me hope that the events of what happened will be spread around to people throughout the weeks and months to come, and that if Shoot was to return again in the near future, that those groups of people would return, to watch a whole new bunch of new acts taking to the main stage of Shop Front Theatre, and indeed making Shoot Festival such a success as it has proven to be this year.