Emergency at Z-Arts

Mention performance art and what do you think of?

On Saturday 3rd October, Z-Arts was taken over by Emergency 2015, a one day event showcasing ’25 live works in a non-stop performance takeover’.  The range and scope was huge.  This was the afternoon session.

A woman walks between two tables, carrying a few grains of powder each time; a man counts everyone who enters and leaves; a map invites you to remove, with a scalpel, the building you hate most; a man and a woman connected by rope ascend and descend the stairs continuously; an impeccably dressed woman wanders the rooms, hair over her face, then later falls to the floor; personal tales of the Miners’ Strike told to small groups paired with animated video.

Some of the pieces have huge potential for development.  Rachel Gomme’s Mouth to Mouth involved sealing your breath in a clay bubble and taking someone else’s away, also sealed in a hardened clay capsule; it is strange to have this on my shelf as I write this.  In Howl Yuan’s The Invisible Guest, he gives you a Chinese name and you give him an English name.  Both pieces had scope to add deeper interaction and theatre; but is this the point?

There was theatre in twenty minute bursts.  Sturgeon’s Law presented the surreal Portal 2 by 2, two people trying to reconnect in a computer age.  Terri Donovan’s Finding Elsie was a lovely and well timed portrayal of fractured family memories.  Then there was the powerful and intimate Encounters with Ecstasies from Adam Lowe, audience of two, five minutes, in a downstairs toilet cubicle.

My favourite though?  Definitely Eleanor Fogg’s selves portrait, which I saw twice, in which the audience watch her in a mirror, a projected image on her face slowly lip-syncing to a half speed Don’t Speak.  Moving, haunting and beautiful, I could have watched this all day.

Really an incredibly diverse and fascinating afternoon that left me thinking about lots of things.  And that’s what this sort of event should do; make you think and make you feel.

Emergency 2015 is presented by Word of Warning, STUN + Z-arts; produced by hÅb; supported using public funding by Arts Council England + funded by Manchester City Council; a greenroom legacy project.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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