The Spotlight Shining On Their Feet

Listening to the thuds on the ceiling of the Bread and Roses pub, Trip The Light Theatre’s The Sun Shining On Her Hands prepared me for a visually “moving”, physical theatre experience. Seeing dance in a pub was quite unusual (except drunken dance moves of course…cheers to that!). Before reading, I must apologise as I don’t think my inner Strictly Come Dancing judge exactly qualifies to critique contemporary dance, but I do appreciate the beauty of physical theatre (thanks to DV8’s JOHN).

The Sun Shining On Her Hands follows the character of Marie from Georg Büchner’s expressionist play ‘Woyzeck’. This original physical theatre production explores the themes of gender and identity through the use of movement and contemporary dance, original vocal and piano music, and a combination of old and new text, as well as real-life accounts of gender discrimination.

Cassiah Joski-Jethi, The Sun Shining On Her Hands, 2015

I found the movement of human bodies fascinating (okay…creepy I know), but the rarity of observing how bodies can express isolation, frustration and even happiness through the simple stretching of arms and legs to music was magical. Wearing loose burgundy tops, the cast seemed to represent three broken fragments of a heart – breaking away and colliding with each other again. Conflict was heightened between the trio as the vicious unravelling of a blanket symbolised the death of a baby.

Three performers represent the character of Marie as she sits in a room, awaiting the return of her husband, Woyzeck. Drawing from events from Büchner’s original text, the three performers reflect on Marie’s haunting past, worry about her present situation, and dare to look to the future

Cassiah Joski-Jethi, The Sun Shining On Her Hands, 2015

I must admit I battled for a sense of the story.  I tried to grasp the tragedy and insanity, but my brain failed to catch up. Not knowing the trio represented “the character of Marie”, I struggled to follow and understand their fear towards a mysterious presence/light by the door. However, the cast had such a strong presence as individuals, I isolated every scene as an emotional monologue rather than a continuous narrative. After reading the programme, I can now relate Cassiah’s ideas to my mind’s replay of the show. I guess you need to think outside the box pub on this one.

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Our chairs lined to the sides, the cast were conscious about space whilst dancing, avoiding our feet as they performed. I imagine they felt a little constrained to loosen up the body. Without trying to sound like a Strictly Come Dancing judge, don’t be afraid to extend your arms and legs darling – own the space, after all it’s yours! The trio were professional and unafraid to pounce in the spotlight.

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Ash Goosey gave the performance gusto. Allowing flesh to squeak and slide across the wooden floorboards, his character battled the torment of female empowerment. Outnumbered to the girl power in the room, it was interesting to watch a man devoted to childcare. His confidence expressed through silent moves and awareness of the intense space captured his exploration of vulnerability with a sudden dominant aggression towards the end.

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Sara Jasmin Page and Anna Rachael McBride worked together to achieve beautiful and elegant dance routines. Repeating the haunting phrase “I am a bad bitch“, bottling emotion and spilling from their bodies, they energised the stage for the next scene. Regaining breath, Anna gave flashes of eye contact with the audience whilst Sara possessed an emotionally wrecked aura. I champion girl power, but it appeared they dominated Ash’s character with their teases, taunt and laughter.

Director and Choreographer Cassiah ‘s aim for the play was to enable Marie “to voice her story” and provide the “space [for] freedom to communicate”. The play echoed this sassy personal touch as all music was composed and performed by cast member Sara Jasmin Page and Dave Shannon. The lyrics were adapted from Georg Büchner’s ‘Woyzeck’ which deserves a high-five for research and dedication towards the making of the production.

The Sun Shining On Her Hands gave an intimate viewing on contemporary dance within an interesting setting. Receiving a golden tan (a girl can dream in December!), I was inspired by the performers creating a moment of turmoil within the inner mind. Living up to its expectations of “physical theatre”, the production shines a bright beam for physical theatre.

‘The Sun Shining On Her Hands’ Cast and Creative Interview from Cassiah Joski-Jethi on Vimeo.

Book your tickets to see The Sun Shining On Her Hands here. Closes on 12 December 2015.

Big thanks to Cassiah Joski-Jethi.

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