Monday, November 25, 2019

here are the fragments

are the Fragments
“Within the installation find places of retreat from chaos.
Find poetry. Find critical analysis.

Explore archival material, Fanon's writings and contemporary interviews with psychiatrists, neuroscientists, artists, and people living with schizophrenia, to reflect on the relationships between identity, history, racism, and mental health.”

The astounding sense of camaraderie and compassion apparent in the current production of Here are the Fragments is a truly haunting and empowering experience. As one wanders through an incredible maze of hard wired set pieces replete with dozens of heavy cords, headsets, microphones etc, this immersive performance text is simultaneously enlightening, entertaining, and terrifyingly self reflective. 

The notion of hard wired may act as an eerie metaphor, as dangling tentacles of technology appear to exist as both design and function, commingling to create a paradoxically stark/excessive setting that gives the space a strong sense of being tuned in and witness to the mayhem of racist cultural discourse, discovery, and attempted dismantling. 

One’s own conflicted notions regarding ‘white fragility’ and ‘white guilt’ may underlie a  kind of haunted house of past crimes against people of colour, and all of the intricate social structures that have marginalized, analyzed, and over pathologized bodies for centuries, specifically the last century and a half - with primary references to the work of Frantz Fanon, and secondary citings regarding the work of Freud, Kafka and many other complex and frequently problematic, frequently prophesying theorists, practitioners, and artists.


Writer, Creator: Suvendrini Lena Co-Creator, Co-Director: Leah Cherniak Co-Director: Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu Assistant Director: Abigail Whitney Production Manager: Rebecca Vandevelde Technical Director: Steph Raposo Co-Creator, Set and Video Designer: Trevor Schwellnus Assistant Set Designer: Victoria Wallace Lighting Designer: Shawn Henry Sound Designer: Nick MurrayStage Manager: Tara Mohan Assistant Stage Manager: Emily Maxwell Video Design Consultant and Programmer: Frank Donato
Filming: Magda Arturo, Juan Pablo Pinto
Filming/Editing: Alejandra Higuera
Head of Wardrobe and Costume Designer: Madeline Ius Carpentry: James Kendall Theatre Centre Producer: Alexis Eastman
Development Producer (2018/19): Karthy Chin
Performers: Kwaku Adu-Poku, Peter Bailey, Allan Louis, Kyra Harper

bottom - l-r - actors Peter Bailey, Kwaku Adu-Poku, Allan Louis, Kyra Harper

Intimate playing spaces give spectators a sense of exploring a kind of Kafkaesque laboratory devoted to the depiction and deciphering of multi-layered psychological and racist discourse. Scenes between pairs of actors from a superb four person ensemble, capture the ways in which the writers, designers, and technical crew have been able to take very complex ideas and turn them into accessible, powerful scenes that are amplified and projected throughout the space, with the actual performers becoming easy to find and to watch live within sections of the overall multi-media performing area. 

Ranging from the bleak confines of a tiny hospital bed where Kyra Harper and Allan Louis share a tragic moment of poignant connection, to a tiny office across from shelves of books ranging from Dostoevsky to Fanon, Gerald Manley Hopkins and countless others, this is an incredibly layered, accessible, and overwhelming testament to the conviction and commitment of all of the artists (technicians, writer, designers, actors, stage management) involved in the project.

An especially touching and interactive moment occurs in a small office space where actor Kwaku Adu-Poku, playing the part of the psychiatrist's son, offers lone audience members a tangerine and asks if they have listened to his father's recordings placed nearby on a desk with an old fashioned tape player, headphones, and a series of numbered cassettes. The finale of the piece provides further intimacy when father and son meet in front of beautiful projections for a bittersweet moment of connection and reflection. This perfectly balanced combination of intimate rapport and intricate socio-cultural examination creates a superb and profoundly thought provoking experience as one is presented with the menacing fragments of particular social and cultural experience, both empowering and frightening.

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