Razed & Confused goes Digital – Online

Written by Various

Serving up a digital variation of their usual live den of inequities, Beau Jangles hosts Razed and Confused, an evening of song, cabaret, experimental art, but above all else, an appreciation and promotion of queer artistry. This evening, four producers who are receiving funding and coaching from other creatives manifest their talents, their panache and flair into an evening which promises puns galore, and a few choice dance moves. For your viewing pleasure this evening, the marvellous quartet of Mr Wesley Dykes, Barbs, Brian and Symoné.

Strutting directly in from the forties, with an uncanny grasp of modern-day Zoom etiquette, Beau makes for an engaging host, charismatic, frank and lyrical– precisely the class act one would expect. Refusing to not share in the spotlight, Beau struts their stuff for a brief number or two, revealing a voice as sharp as their dress-sense and thankfully, as sharp as their tongue. Hosting duties stretch beyond the veil of entertainment, as Beau’s song choices reflect a commentary the evening doesn’t scream about but reminds the audience, that on the eve of the Black Trans Lives matter marches, how many more times will white, or cisgender people apologise, thinking these fix everything, how many more apologies will be issued before everything gets sorted.

It’s perhaps the most candid moment of social commentary in the evening, but not the only, as reminders ripple throughout the acts’ song choices, comedic skits, or artistic expression. On the whole, the four acts work triumphantly well, for the most part, with dips occurring in the more experimental elements which fail to offer a sense of identity or focus. Not unpleasant, merely disjointed, where the intent is evident, but the practice requires work.

What are complete pieces, demonstrating canny ability, are Mr Wesley Dykes ‘Dass Ghey As Fuq’, which seems at first to be a simple skit routine, morphing into a well-thought, still humorous, routine on the assumed ownership of hyper-sexuality by Masculinity. Together with Manly Mannington & Romeo De La Cruz, Dykes’ section deconstructs the obsessive masculinity imposed on young black men, and the damaging effects this fetishizing has, and the denial of enabling young women to express their sexual nature. The Black Boi Band routine is easily the most accomplished of the evening, balancing characterisation, movement, and lip-synching – the real weapons any Drag performer can pull out the bag.

Matching Dykes arsenal, Brian too is qualified lip-synch royalty, sharing the crown this evening for most rounded performance. Reading (a fundamental skill) from Womxn Offering Wisdom, Brian takes a more narrative approach with their performance, tying in fluid movements, similarly to queer circus performer Symoné. The pair share an evident ferocity, Brian’s conveyed through their lip-synching, Symoné through her prowess, almost feline movements. Both maintain a core of emotion; however, Symoné frequently recalls the Tarot card ‘Joker’, using a variety of video editing, and capitalises on effects to bewitch and alter reality.

Editing is a skill of Barbs, and while technically excellent, the piece struggles in communicating with the audience. The furthest from live theatre or performance, Barb’s routine lays as a short film, with various forms of imagery, costume, and aesthetical changes to further the film. As a collective, the liveness of Razed & Confused works, largely due to our host, but truly offers a snippet of the tremendous capabilities of these performers and their ability to hold a crowd. Teaming with Something to Aim For – Razed & Confused promotes the necessity of championing queer and black performers and will leave the audience dazed, hungry and ravenous to experience more from the Raze Collective – live or otherwise.

Review originally published for Reviews Hub: https://www.thereviewshub.com/razed-and-confused-goes-digital-online/

Photo Credit: Bruce Wang

Screen.Dance – Scotland’s Festival of Dance

Originally set to take place in Edinburgh’s magnificently vibrant arts space Summerhall, Screen.Dance, Scotland’s Festival of Dance on Screen, will shift to an online format – presenting a digital programme from Friday 19th – Saturday 20th June. Drawing together dancers, choreographers, artists, film producers and musicians, the event will showcase work across the nation and beyond, forging unity from the local to national and international artists. 

Seeking to create a hybrid of enriched cinema, intersecting movement with image, this festival (unique to Scotland) presents a programme of forty-two short films which from across the globe, with a focus on movement & dance. More than a simple series of curated pieces of choreography, films will hone on the discussions, debates, and conversations on the relationships between filmmaking, dance, activism, and social justice with a programme traversing gender, race, disability and social, economic and political issues.

Hosted by The Works Room Glasgow and the European maPs project from Paris, Screen.Dance will be streaming programmes located in a specific area of their website, with presentations and films beginning from 11 am, Friday 19th June. With support from Film Hub Scotland, the festival will include two world premieres; Navigation by Marlene Millar and Floor Falls by Abby Warrilow, and Jennifer Patterson; a newly commissioned one-minute dance film supported by Creative Scotland.

On the subject of the festival, Screen.Dance Festival Artistic Director Simon Fildes said:

“It’s been so exciting to be able to work with the team at Summerhall, and move the apt genre of Screen.Dance, online. We are incredibly honoured to bring together work from Scotland and the UK, alongside work from countries such as Canada, China, India, and the USA; connecting award-winning artists and audiences to dance and digital...

Alongside films, presentations and discussions, we are delighted to have been able to commission work under the new one minute Screen.Dance commissioning scheme, produced by the company GO/AT, showcasing our commitment to supporting Scottish artists to make high quality work that can be exhibited in a competitive international platform showcase.”

Additionally, Screen.Dance Associate Curator Iliyana Nedkova discussed the programmes representation and variety in genre:

“We are so excited to be continuing to curate and programme work across the Screen.Dance genre – bringing together incredible artists, choreographers, dancers, film-makers and musicians...

 We are proud that the two world premieres this year make up the fact that the programme sees 50:50 gender representation, as we continue to push to bring a mix of artists from across fields into the spotlight.”

For more information, including access to the full programme & films please visit Screen Dance: www.screen.dance

Connect with Screen.dance over social media: Instagram, Facebook & Twitter

Hotter – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Written & Performed by Mary Higgins & Ell Potter

Directed by Jessica Edwards

Real talk here; what gets you off? Do you prefer to be cold or too warm? How about your toilet trips, how’re they coming? These may be the sorts of questions which make some of us blush, so you better crack a window, it’s about to get Hotter in here. Tired of playing life by the straight and narrow, writers and performers Mary Higgins & Ell Potter are best friends, previously dating, and want to discover what gets you hot, and are tired of playing things cool. 

Chemistry is everything, and unsurprisingly, Higgins & Potter have it in droves. Not only with one another, but with their audience, and while there is little to no direct interaction, the room feels like one unit. It’s a safe space, where all the ‘gross’ or ‘private’ affairs are out in the open, slathered on the floor and up for discussion. Because why the hell not? Why should what makes us tick, how we bump, rub and grind through the world be something confined to closed doors, and in the cases of women and transgender, kept silent? Higgins & Potter have a voice, and they intend on using it to speak for the people they have interviewed, young and old, proud and self-conscious, shavers and growers.

More than spoken word, these interviews have been compiled into a delightful expression of movement, which moves from the ludicrous to the sultry, and the downright addictive. Further enhancing an authentic feel, the tightness of the pair’s movements does slip, they laugh, they tumble and smile at one another, and it completely sells the intent of the show – this is the paradigm of feelgood, inclusive theatre. Twerking, slow dancing and incorporating this movement into the physical aspect of comedy, Hotter may well be a comedy in shape, but it has a sympathy of dance sweats of spoken word beneath.

This comedic form prominently exposes itself cheekily as Higgins & Potter incorporate ‘skits’ into the production, is a piece of brilliance. Imitation is the name of the game as the pair give character to the voiceovers we hear of the interviewees. Ranging across the board, each person feels whole, even if a caricature. There’s a backstory in the way Higgins holds her nose up at the woman who preaches warm over cold, or an understanding slouch from Potter. Additionally, the recordings of the girls meeting with Pommie, Potter’s gran, adds a sincerity which touches a nerve, reminding us that despite the humourous nature there’s emotion to Hotter.

Unabashedly diving arse-first into the opinions and feelings concerning body hair, periods, boobs, body image and masturbation, Hotter isn’t here to educate, to drive opinion or push, this is a chat with sincere frankness in delivery. Reflective of the slow removal of clothes, Hotter doesn’t lunge face-first, it gradually builds, as if reflecting the growing self-confidence in accepting our bodies. Exquisitely simple, comforting, Higgins & Potter aren’t talking down to the audience, nor across them, this is our show, your show and it’s about the women and trans people who just want to talk about these things in as natural a way as possible. 

And that’s Hotter’s strength right there, Mary Higgins and Ell Potter. Who not only write a spectacularly exquisite production but carry it in such a genuine manner that nothing feels clinical or intense. Health conscious forbidding, the desire to leap up, embrace a stranger and feel a connection erupts as the show closes. Returning in August, it couldn’t be clearer that even as someone who prefers the cold, sometimes you just have to get a little sweaty, a little flushed and a lot, lot Hotter.

Photo Credit – Holly Revell