Sampled Festival at The Junction in Cambridge is my chance to binge of live art and I love it! I even took a couple of days to fully digest everything before being able to write about it. My initial thoughts on the festival are super positive; I thought that Daniel Pitt, the Arts Producer of The Junction did a fab job. Although there were many of the same names in the programme as to previous years it was for good reason…these people just produce excellent work and create a buzz around them. I am going to review a couple of them below…breaking it down a bit for you:
For those of you that don’t know, Sampled Festival is a mini live art festival that runs over two days which brings together work-in-progress of theatre companies, most of whom also showcase their work at Pulse Festival in Ipswich and Mayfest in Bristol as preparation for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Junction describes it as “A jam-packed weekend festival celebrating fresh ideas and the processes of making theatre, dance, live art, circus and everything in-between. Entertainment, ideas and inspiration for audiences and artists; a platform for risk-taking live shows and experiences.”
Here are my thoughts on some of the pieces:
Hannah Jane Walker and Chris Thorpe – “I wish I was Lonely”
This piece is a wonderful mixture of positive and negatives of connecting through social media. With the funny punchy approach and the fantastic delivery the piece was captivating and so beautifully written. They introduce just enough audience participation along with well executed stories to take you on this exploration. The show ended with them asking us to turn to the person next to us and arrange to meet again, anytime, anywhere but do it only through this agreement, not to swap numbers or call to confirm but to make it happen…I wonder how many kept to their word…
Louise Orwin – “Am I Pretty/Ugly”
Dressed in bright pink with overdone make-up and flirting with a camera I was worried I was wasting my time but Louise soon got my attention when she explained her YouTube experiment. Her exploration into teenage girls publically expressing themselves online, especially youtube and asking for constant reassurance by strangers was fascinating. Placing herself as a teenager on YouTube asking people if they thought she was pretty or ugly got some incredible responses by strangers online. My only criticism was that after this deep exploration she still asked the audience “Am I pretty or ugly” which HAD to be based on her looks alone. This felt redundant now she had taken us on this journey and it made me feel uncomfortable her asking audience members. This is a sad eye opener outlined with a hint of humour and it was right up my street.
Sleepwalk Collective – Karaoke
Snore. When you study drama/theatre you learn of the techniques of taking the audience to different levels and one of them is to keep the audience waiting that they are so bored they enter a new world of thinking…I felt like this is what they guys were doing. To give them some credit, they did describe their piece as “deadpan” but for some reason I didn’t pick up on that. The concept of performing a piece as if it was karaoke sounds like it could be really hilarious but the karaoke elements weren’t there. When I think of karaoke I think of colour, movements, comedy, mistakes, impromptu and spontaneous performance all of which they were asking us to imagine was happening it but I just didn’t feel inspired enough to imagine anything apart from ways I could excuse myself from the room. The show was made of one boy and one girl standing on the stage and speaking from a microphone and the speech was colour coded so they knew who was saying what when. I wanted it to be fun, deadpan in an ironic, dry humour kind of way but it just gave me nothing and I left the space feeling deflated. I feel like these guys have a long way to go before they are ready to present this as a final piece. Sorry guys, it just didn’t do it for me.
TOOT: Be Here Now
This likable group showed us some work they had created over the last 5 days so it was early days but look out for this piece over the next few months, it’s only going to get better! Along with some audience participation in an intimate space these guys made me laugh, reminisce about my first love and pose as a member of Steps as well as banging out some classic tunes and some live singing of their own. They merge music and theatre which makes for a delicious combination!
Helen Stratford: An Architectural Cleaning Tour
When squished in the cupboard I thought maybe this was a joke but I love quirky stuff like this and Helen is so likeable I felt like I was have a private gossip and chat with my best friend. It is what it is, there is no hidden meaning, no political message, no pressure….we just chatted about cleaning and what routine you have if you have any and it was all very pleasant…I highly recommend.
Shatter Resistant: After Party
3 minutes all about you…who wouldn’t love it? Three minutes of two hilarious hosts celebrating you with novelty hats, food on cocktail sticks and a toast to me! Cheers!
From the handful I was able to see this Sampled was made of a really strong group of artists and companies showcasing really interesting work…in fact…it has inspired me enough to work on my own piece…so watch this space!