At what point did we decide it was safer to feel nothing than something? Savannah Acquah’s i don’t feel anything challenges the epidemic of avoidant attachment through movement and monologue.
It’s a three hander using dance sequences to punctuate thematic episodes exploring racism, homophobia and abuse. It had me feeling mixed emotions… The conversations the piece attempts to start are great and full of potential, but there was a lack of finesse in execution. With a little more TLC and some rejigging, there’s no reason why the show can’t thrive.
There’s no denying this is an important piece with a lot to, justifiably, say. The stories selected were hard hitting, relatable and encouraged great introspection. In this case, the piece achieved its aim. In terms of writing, it’s solid and a great credit to them.
I’ve got a couple of suggestions for tightening up the form. When creating a dance piece there’s a fine tightrope to teeter between having a casual, laidback style and looking like the piece still needs cleaning and lacks confidence. Maybe we’re somewhere in the middle with this one. For me, it’s all about the versatility of the piece as a whole. If there’s distinct differences, not only in genre and music style but in physical and performance dynamics then having moments of introspection is more forgivable. It’s knowing when to dance big, take up space and express wholeheartedly, and when to purposefully do the other. You can’t have light without shade. And yet, I feel the exuding of confidence in this case was lacking. I think that’s that whether you’re dancing for a black box or a packed theatre, the awareness of energy and presence is essential. If someone is paying for tickets, there is no space for marking. Ever.
I’d perhaps suggest looking at the power of eyeline and gaze, when we’re using it and when we’re purposefully not. Having an intention and purpose for everything is integral, otherwise you’re not dancing, you’re just moving. I’d suggest paying a greater attention to these finer details throughout the whole. Noticeably the execution of lines and extensions especially in unison moments. These are easy fixes, get in a mirror, film yourselves and make the slick bits bite. It makes the vibe of more improvisational, causal bits more fun and personal to the individual performers.
Thinking about why we’re using dance narratively, not only how would be helpful. Our bodies are natural vessels for storytelling . I wanted each movement to tell a story of its own and I feel at times this wasn’t apparent. There’s an old saying, when you can’t express through words, you sing when that fails you’re only option is to dance. At what point are words not enough to express how you feel that you’re forced to dance? There has to be a swell of emotion backing this decision. Find it, live it, show it.
There must always be a purpose for why you’re dancing. This was painfully apparent during a scene where the dancers appeared out of breath after a sequence. Although, the effort and stamina of the section didn’t match the reaction. My suggestion is to find the truth in it, dance so hard that you’re genuinely out of breath. As theatre makers you must then the truth otherwise your audience certainly won’t believe you.
I was left wanting more with the transitions. The music needed to be cut in a more intentional way, timed appropriately to fit the duration necessary. There were too many moments of dead space – musically, emotionally and physically. Perhaps a closer look at how you can move in and out of the spoken sections without dropping the ball of energy. Notice the ebbs and flows, but always be in control. More commitment, conviction and a trust in the piece, and the performers selves was needed.
Match that with a more intentional use of lighting and proxemics. There were times when these parts felt ignored. As, was the actual blocking of the piece. There were repeated staging choices made that were accidentally similar to sections, or at least seemed accidental. This made the differences in narratives a little unclear.
The monologues and spoken narrative sections were stellar, very well written and performed. The dance sections were performed with great enthusiasm and clearly a lot of love has gone into the piece as a whole. With a little shining up and an injection of confidence there’s no reason why this piece can’t take that next step in professionalism.
Recommended Drink: Pornstar Martini without the shot of Prosecco. Everything is better with a little bit of sparkling up!
Performances of i don’t feel anything have now concluded at EdFringe. Keep up with the performers on social media for future performances.