It’s Tuesday evening; Project Arts Centre is filled with people. Colourful coats, earrings, piercings, tasteful make up and cool clothes surround me. Everyone is in a good mood, excited about the show they’re about to see. Nice!!!
I sit down, right in the middle of the audience and watch hordes of people filling the place. It’s busy, it’s hot - it’s very hot. On stage are the performers waiting for us to sit down. The lights in the room change. We all get quiet.
Danse, Morob is a theatrical piece; it’s a so-called 'wordy' piece, meaning it has a lot of text in it. It’s story telling. Olwen Fouéré is delivering an impressive amount of text made up of fragments of a story about a daughter who lost her father, who was a prisoner in the Maze during the no-wash protests in the late 70s. Danse, Morob (written by the French author Laurent Gaudé) is more about the subjects and ideas of trauma being passed on from generation to generation and the personal loss and impact radical political commitment can have for the individuals and families involved, more than it being specifically about Ireland and the history here.
The work is impressive, everyone involved is such a professional and good at what they do. The light design is breathtaking (SO OTHERWORLDLY BEAUTIFUL!!) and the costumes and set design, the whole colour palette of the show, create a very specific, almost clinical yet dreamy atmosphere for us all to exist within for the duration of the performance. Emma Martin (who is a choreographer) has found an interesting and beautiful way to work with the movements of the piece. Stripped down to the core, the movements of the actors are very precise and present. They function as a strong, contrasting support for the text, which is highly ornamented in its descriptions of shit, death, loss and strong emotions. It’s refreshing to see actors move with such ease while still knowing exactly what they’re doing and not doing with their bodies. This goes through all the layers of the physicality of this piece - from the way the actors stand, dance or move across the stage to the way their hands gesture when they talk.
Danse, Morob is a dreamy, hypnotic, state of mind. I feel myself being transported somewhere else by the visuals and sounds of it, but I’m not being transported into the story that the text is trying to tell me. I’m confused as to what is of importance in this piece: the text, the actual story itself, or the way of delivering it, the way of performing this text. From the second the show starts, the text and scenes are delivered in an intense dramatic way that doesn’t change throughout the performance. It’s hard for me to find the dynamics of the text and how to navigate into the story and through it. All parts and details seem to be of equal importance, so nothing becomes important; it all blends together for me. The way of almost singing out the text, which is used in this show, overpowers the story itself. This could perhaps be something interesting on its own, but I don't believe that that is what this piece wants to do. Coming from the world of dance and choreography I often find this quite problematic in theatre - the drama of it all takes over. Maybe I’m wearing 'the wrong glasses', so to speak, as to how to view and experience theatre, but it creates a great distance to the work for me - the indulgence of performing stands between me, in the audience, and the core of the work itself. The subjects that the performance Danse, Morob is really dealing with are different to me, than what it seems like the text and story Danse, Morob wants to deal with. The subjects of the text are of importance and relevance to me, as I come from a family of strong political commitment leading to persecution and fleeing halfway across the world. I experience in my own body how trauma is passed on from generation to generation. So it’s not that I’m not interested, unfamiliar with the topics or not willing to dig deeper that creates this distance. It seems somehow that the performance Danse, Morob deals more with, and is more concerned about, the excellence of staging, performing and structuring theatre than the story it tries to tell.
Emma-Cecilia for DRAFF
Danse, Morob by The Emergency Room runs at Project Arts Centre until the 28th January 2017. Image: Luca Truffarelli.
Posted: 20th January 2017