Monday, October 1, 2012

PaperDolls Constellation: Spirit of the Fringe Award 2012

It was an exhilarating moment when PaperDolls were announced winners of the Spirit of the Fringe Award 2012 for Constellations, a work I felt was like a giant finish line in the culmination of much of my creative life. Acting as Creative Director and writer on this production with PaperDolls was immensely tough at times and hugely satisfying when we began to realise all our abstractions and big ideas were actually having an impact on our audiences: 

"...much more than this, I was very, very moved by it. It affected me deeply. I just wanted to write to say thank you very much for it."

"I had a particularly bad day, and I been very teary. Then I went to your show and fell under your spell and forgot about absolutely everything else... I couldn't actually speak for about 30 mins after the show and I know I didn't whoop loud enough or clap hard enough. So I just wanted to drop you a note of thanks..."

"There was a real chemistry between you guys which really fed into the mood of the piece and the atmosphere in the room. Seriously, I was blown away by it all. Found myself open-mouthed a good few times. It's been a long time since a show had that kind of effect on me..."

"Paper Dolls was amazing beyond my wildest expectations. From the first second I was hypnotised. This show will stay with me for a long time. Impressed would be an under-statement. You people are legends"

"it slips outside most of the normal categories that you might use to describe something like this. It’s a dance piece that takes place mostly in the air. It’s an acrobatic display that eschews all the cheesy narcissistic showing off which that normally entails. It’s a piece of performance art that revolves around the use of Japanese rope bondage. It’s a gig with a full band (Wolfbait) in the corner who blast out terrifyingly loud and intense noise rock. It’s eerie and unsettling and totally unlike anything I’ve ever seen before"

The reviews that emerged were in tune with what we were exploring and responded positively:

The spectacle provides a constantly-changing vista of human forms struggling and striving not only with themselves, but with each other, the bonds that bind them and even the very air itself. There’s a real sense that the performers are testing the boundaries available to them, yet without the lack of polish you might associate with such no-holds-barred performance. With bodies writhing in mid-air, the atmosphere resembles the world of the Inquisition more so than the ethereal beauty we tend to associate with the phrase “aerial performance”. A truly immersive and unique experience.

Still in their infancy as a company (formed in January 2011), PaperDolls are ferociously determined. This is nicely reflected in the Spartan monochrome costumes worn by the performers and the utilitarian surroundings of D-Light studios, giving the cast the air of a pack of hungry wolves, lean and hard.

The show is billed as ‘an experiment in risk’ and it certainly is that. Some performers have their upper torsos (arms included) bound in rope, before engaging in complex, ground-based and aerial, acrobatic sequences. A highlight is the opening section in which three performers swing from trapeze in complementary rhythms with the razor-sharp precision of metronomes.
- Irish Theatre Magazine

And so, after the successes already being felt by the team, evoked by having moved through a ferociously difficult emotional and physical space in the process of producing a creatively, emotionally and physically challenging show, we at last settled into a gorgeous pace, particularly in the final shows, and the power of what we had succeeded in doing and the connections between us as friends and performers at last started to give us huge satisfaction and joy. I'm glad this work was awarded with the Spirit of the Fringe. For me, the title means that all the guts instinct and desire that was injected into Constellations was indeed connected to an overall zeitgeist of this moment in time and my generation -  and important recognition and support for unconventional, challenging, experimental, uncomfortable and heartfelt creativity in Dublin city! It was also a hugely loving moment when I was jumped on and pushed onstage to accept the award on behalf of everyone involved in making Constellations manifest!

Here's a video that I'm so happy exists! I didn't realise Colin was recording, and I'm really glad he had the wherewithal to do it! I love Colin's unacceptance speech:

Promo video for Constellations:

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