Back at the beginning of September St.Helens Council’s Arts Service organised a group trip to London to see a selection of shows – showcasing the best in disability arts from across the UK. The idea was that we could have a look at the shows and then programme our favourites up in St.Helens….. We’ve already programme Ramesh Meyyappan – This Side up into Central Library on Monday 26th November.
Chris Coffey wrote a fantastic review of the trip – read it below….
Six of us, Owen from the Arts Department, Jimmy from the Citadel,
Marion from one of the Sutton groups, David from Photographic Minds,
Debbie, and myself, went on an Arts Council funded trip to the
SouthBank in London to experience Unlimited, an arts festival
devoted to works created by people with disabilities.
On the first evening we went to see “Resonance At The Still Point
of Change”. I found the title alone pretentious, and when I read
that one of the seven musicians was playing a “prepared piano”, I
was prepared for the worst. The music was one of those pieces that
sounded to me free-form, lacking a tune or melody or noticeable
rhythm. The lyrics were projected on the screen, but they were a
list of words with no cohesion I could grasp.
There seemed two screens, usually with two separate images but
occasionally combined. They were generally bleak images of the
bleaker parts of the Essex coastline. I did like the clever moving
images of the telegraph wires, with the effects you get looking at
them from a moving train - I stayed behind for the audience question
and answer, I suppose in the hope there was something I had failed
to grasp that would enlighten me. Four of the party passed judgement
by not staying for it. We all have our likes and dislikes and this
was firmly in my dislike bin.
The following morning I caught the Javelin train from St.Pancras to
Stratford for the Olympic Park. I was sat opposite a 17 year old
from Anfield who had just come down. He had just failed to be
selected for the Table Tennis team but was invited to be part of the
squad to gain experience. I couldn’t get into the Park as all the
tickets had been sold, so plonked myself awhile just ten yards from
the entrance, and felt the buzz of the huge flow who did have
tickets. I have never seen so many people in wheelchairs.
Back to the station meant going through a shopping mall, so I found
HMV and bought Isles of Wonder, the music for the Opening Ceremony
of the Olympic Games. Dame Evelyn Glennie led the percussionists on
“And I Will Kiss” and “Caliban’s Dream”. Just four weeks earlier I
had seen her in concert at the Liverpool Phil as the biggest event
to date of Merseyside’s own DaDa Festival, which is also a
Disability Arts Festival. Ironically the DaDa Festival had a
programmed event at the Citadel while we were down here in London.
By teatime I had returned to the Southbank where loads of people
were gathered alongside that stretch of river, and there were many
performing arts to enjoy under that rare thing this summer, a clear
blue sky. I went exploring the Spirit Level of the Royal Festival
Hall, and was amused that instead of the sound of a voice in the
lift they had the sound of a choir whose voices gently rose as the
lift rose, or descended with the lift. A deep voice sang the floor
at which the doors were due to open.
The evening performance was Bobby Baker’s Mad Gyms & Kitchens. Bobby
developed this show out of her own experiences of illness and hard
won recovery. We saw "an extraordinary of fantastical ‘recovery’
apparatus all developed with wellbeing in mind“ and joined her on
the road to wellness and beyond. At the end we were all served with
a cup of tea to make us feel better, and it worked for me. We all
found it excellent, imaginative and hilarious, and it would be a
brilliant choice to bring to the Citadel.
On the Thursday tea-time we returned to explore more of the
SouthBank happenings. Graeae & Strange Fruit performed The Garden,
with some of the performers on four metre high sway poles creating
stories in the air to some excellent music that had the English
whimsy that reminded me of the Incredible String Band (for those of
you old enough to remember them.
We split into two groups on the final evening and the final work was
just stunning and brilliant. “Skewered Snails” was the story of a
boy who flees to the tree tops to seek solace from the brutality of
his father, vowing never to touch the ground again. - No actual
trees on the stage, just half a kilometre of rope hanging from the
ceiling, and “with an eclectic mix of visual and physical theatre
styles, create dynamic physical work often using circus techniques”
No surprise then they used an Aerial Choreographer, an Acrobatic
Consultant, and an Aerial Rigger - Sadly we cannot bring it to St.
Helens for where could we hang the ropes? We stayed for the after-
performance Q&A. The Glasgow based Singaporean - Ramesh Meyyappan
has been deaf since birth and wonderfully expanded this all-mime
piece from his solo work where he played all four roles, (the Boy,
the Father, the Mother, the Sister), into the one hour story that
was amazing to watch. Ramesh was a year below Owen at LIPA and will
keep an eye on suitable Ramesh projects that we can bring to St.
Unlimited was the concluding part of the Southbank Centre’s
Festival of the World.
Ramesh Meyyappan Performing In ‘Skewered Snails’