FLARE: HOME Double Bill

FLARE opens in Manchester with the first double bill at HOME.

ONE: BOG (Netherlands)

ONE is about all things: time, space, light, sound, organisms, objects, people, feelings and thoughts.’  A lamp mounted on a wheel at the end of a metal rod transcribes a circle on a white stage, periodically making the performer step over it.  Behind Lisa Verbelen, text scrolls across a large screen.  She stands at a microphone, but does not speak the words.  The words are replaced by seemingly random marks, positioned as if on a musical score and she sings the ‘notes’ for the duration shown.  The marks, and therefore the sounds, become increasingly complex.  Multiple marks bring in multiple voices (up to four) that sing in harmony.  The marks start to resemble patterns and then objects, and we see the possibility of expressing images though sound.

But it doesn’t develop much further.  ‘There will never be enough voices to let us hear everything, never enough parts to form one, complete unity.’  I wanted to see the images become landscapes, and for Lisa to sing the landscapes, but perhaps that wasn’t the point.  A quiet, mesmerising piece with a subtle beauty in what we see, feel and hear.

Leopard Murders: KURSK (Germany/Switzerland)

‘If Germany doesn’t exist then I’m talking to a ghost,’ says performer Timo Krsten in this complex and circular piece of political theatre which looks at the rise of right wing populist politics.  How important is it that we define ourselves by our race, ethnicity and beliefs?  What happens when we define another group as different, especially when we place them beneath us?  Historically, right wing populism has always relied on the creation of an ‘us versus them’ culture.

Leopard Murders weaves its path through the last hundred years and draws themes from the life of the performer’s grandfather, George Ebrecht.  He ran a sisal plantation in Tanganyika, symbolising the struggle for Germany to establish an empire and the way East Africans were treated.  He became a prominent SS Officer, promoting Nazi ideals of racial purity (the paradox that Timo is himself a product of these policies is fascinating).  Then he became a speech writer for the pacifist left.  What are the similarities and differences between the people he fought against at each stage?  Is everyone the same?  Can we define arbitrary boundaries between groups?

Powerfully staged with clever use of spoken word, sound and lighting to disorientate, it’s about the past, and it’s about the present, and it asks whether deep down, do people really change?

The double bill is repeated on 5 July at HOME.  If you’d like to know more about FLARE, which runs 4 – 8 July in Manchester. please see my interview here and my preview here.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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