Put together by a collection of QM finalists, Re: Play showed off the promising work being created by students studying in the drama department. With two of the three performances initially created as part of taught practical modules, it proved the scope and quality of student work at Queen Mary is not meant for good grades but bigger things. Although tonight’s performance was firmly on QM turf in the Pinter, it could form a foundation for external showings of work in the future. Using the scratch performance development technique used by organisations such as Battersea Arts Centre, the aim of the night was to collect feedback for the ongoing development of each work. This proactive and practical approach to the development of a piece is key for many professional theatre companies, so getting started whilst still at university with all the resources that come with it is a potentially massive boost for the creative process.
Opening the evening were Theatre Counterpoint with Don’t Turn The Lights On, a piece exploring adolescence and gender norms through a combination of games and repetition performed by Jay Walker and QMTC production manager Mira Yonder, and directed by Dadiow Lin. Claiming to use ‘analysis of musical structure as dramaturgy for the composition of devised theatre’, Theatre Counterpoint’s rhythmic musicality proves promising and it will be interesting to see how the piece develops in the future. There are some really lovely moments aesthetically, with clever use of repeated movement, light and projection. Their message can be a little heavy handed in some of the dialogue, however with a little refining this should be a really exciting piece deserving of many a Fringe stage.
Next up was Box by Keita Ikeda, originally devised as part of the Beyond Acting final year module. Keita’s technological wonder Boxy may just be a cardboard box with an expression projected onto it, but that doesn’t stop you from feeling a bit devastated when it gets ripped into tiny pieces. ‘He can’t feel anything, he’s just a box’ says Keita as he stabs him repeatedly with a knife, but oddly enough we the audience feel something. A clever exploration of sentience and the portrayal of emotions onstage, Box has got some serious legs.
Closing the night were former GPP group FeminArt with their piece Kitchen Art. Martha Rumney, Olga Kravchenko and Mira Yonder’s grotesquely sexual housewives compete to be the most domestic and seductive. It’s comic and somewhat unsettling, their forced smiles burning into your retinas as the sexy domestic goddess stereotype becomes subversively obscene. It doesn’t seem to have changed hugely since they performed it as part of GPP last year, but it is undoubtedly strong so it will be interesting to see how they will expand upon next.
A fantastic way to show and develop creative work away from the classroom setting, Re: Play proves itself to be a great example for other student performance makers at QMUL to follow. It just goes to show, if you’ve got a piece that you’ve created within or outside of class it doesn’t have to be doomed to live on only through your grade transcript. Take the initiative and hit replay.