There’s a buzz as I enter the dilapidated warehouse in Hackney Wick. Tucked away behind a maze of fences, the place, once found, has an intimate feel. Everyone inside forms a community of artists, who all exude a feeling of cohesion despite the disparity of fashion choices.
The building is comprised of two staircases, leading to a makeshift stage of pallets. The balcony leads on to multiple doorways, which mark one of the only signifiers, besides the multitude of fridges, that this space is actually used as living quarters. The rest of the décor is charmingly mismatched, with the audience sitting on a range of chairs or cushions, or if you’re myself, a camp chair you brought from home on an exclusive tip off.
The first to perform is the organiser, Andy McCredie. With his 21st birthday just days before the performance, his entrepreneurial effort is impressive. This talent is echoed by his acting: he delivers a monologue which is both moving and darkly comical. Every piece that I will hear that night showcased new writing, either by the performers themselves, or an external writer. This kind of event marks the next generation in the type of theatre that the rise of social media and self promotion have allowed to prosper. Moving away from the exclusivity that the cost of drama schools perpetuates, these events give people who would otherwise be excluded, the chance to showcase their talent. The rise of this type of collaboration is already well-established, however this doesn’t mean that there aren’t still people pushing the boundaries further. Alongside breakthrough companies like Redgates, new platforms are emerging for artists to share and collaborate, independent of a higher level institution. A quick scan of Bossy’s timeline, a female only forum for women in the arts, shows just this: the magnitude of artists reaching out, encouraging a greater merging of different disciplines. This is the potential positive outcome of exclusivity: between those that are excluded interdisciplinary lines become less rigid. Platform, a theatre space in Southwark, does just this; encourages practitioners to engage in interdisciplinary creation.
The dramatic difference between the pieces echo this movement of collaboration. The showcase is 3 hours long, a credit to all the actors that it didn’t seem it; and perhaps a credit to the comfort of my camping chair.
Second to perform is Rashaan Asante, performing ‘To Cage a Caterpillar’,
written by Tegh Panesar. Youngest to perform by far, his monologue concerning being trapped in a chrysalis, takes on wider ramifications of emerging from the trappings of societal expectations.
Some of the strongest pieces were delivered by the elder performers. Nora Connolly
performing ‘Dandy’,delivered an equally beautiful and comic rendition of her own work, concerning the life cycle of a rooster.. Onomatopoeic deliverance rendered the audience entranced, peppering beautiful phrases, such as: ‘wilted headdress like carnivals passed by’ with an energetic ‘chook, chook, chook, chook,’ which added a comical refrain. She ended on exquisite imagery, surveying the white potatoes, gravy and turkey which anoint the table, comparing them with lost, bright colours of the cockerel. Her piece links comic animalistic movement, ingenious use of props and refined prose.
True sit-com genius was then executed by Ciara Pouncett & Alistair Wilkinson performing ‘Daffy’ written by Aeden Day. Ciara played the overbearing advisor, who sat somewhere between Gordon Ramsey and what we all imagine Theresa May gets up to in her own bedroom. Alistair on the other hand was a snivelling mess, who more resembled a cross between Gollum and Jacob Rees-Mogg. The highlight of the peice, of which there were many, came when Ciara discovered nudes of Angela Merkel on Alistair’s phone given to him by Trudeau. This piece hit satire right on the mark, situating the evening firmly in the ridiculous current political climate, reminiscent of the BBC’s ‘The Thick of It’. This added sketch comedy into the night’s already crowded genre variation.
Following this piece came my favourite of the evening. A shocking and hilarious monologue by Abby Russell, who bounded on stage in a too tight a kilt and a furry green monster hat, proclaiming loudly in a thick Scottish accent, amongst fits of asthma, that she ‘was not a …….. LESBIAN’. Her monologue ranged from claiming doctored CCTV footage as a result of getting caught watching porn at work, to lifting up her top further to reveal a dubious Japanese tattoo. She finally recites her poem, entitled poem, ‘ I am not a lesbian, the only time I like to feed the pony is at the equestrian’. This piece, while nominally exceedingly entertaining, also highlighted the ridiculous nature of labels pertaining to sexual orientation.
The next peice worth a special shoutout was a poem again entitled ‘poem’ written and performed by Robert Garnham. This also featured a memorable refrain ‘tiddly pom pom’ amongst a comical stop and start style whose dry nautical sexual innuendoes were reminiscent of one of Milton Jones’s performances during ‘unlikely things to hear….’ on Mock the Week. Much like the piece previously mentioned, this also highlighted the ridiculous nature in which we label sexual orientation by subverting expectation.
Another stand out piece came from Isabella Culver. Her damaging take on the romanticism of Daytona Beach comes through clever word play, bemoaning the fall of a talented musician, who sold his bass ‘to play pipes’ and believes himself to be the true writer of ‘Space Cowboy’. Based on family relations, this piece widened the scope of the evening, bringing the audience to the south of the USA, which added a further dimension to the largely London-based commentary.
Each performance brought something new to the character of the evening; however the most remarkable aspect was the range between pieces. Whether this was style, content, or medium (as there were beautiful musical performances at the end of each half) the eclectic nature of the evening represented the aim of the company, to provide a platform for new and upcoming artists and showcase original writing. This company champions the latest foray into multi-disciplinary theatre, allowing variation to characterise not only the actors on the stage but material that they perform. I look forward to further Redgates events, as well as performances by any of the talented actors that participated.
Check them out on their website : https://m.facebook.com/RedgatesTheatre/