Tetrad’s Us and Them#4

Sunday 22nd November 2015

Us and Them

Us and Them is a series of shows that take place at the Attenborough centre, produced by the Tetrad Company.

Tonight’s show was Us and Them #4.

tetrad image

As the invitation notice stated: ‘Us and Them brings together people who are excited and inspired by innovative, bold and thought-provoking experiences of performance. Watch performances by Tetrad collective members, alongside developing work from guest artists within the fields of comedy, dance, theatre, live art and multimedia performance. This event will engage people in dialogue about contemporary performance, providing opportunities to network and foster prospective performance makers.’

Performance Line-Up:

Robert Hardaker, ‘CHANT (cleanse)’
Sam Metz, ‘Got something to say – but no joy’
Katherine Hall, ‘Buoy Up’
Sophie Swoffer, ‘Take the Shot’

Tetrad is a collective of De Montfort University MA Performance Graduates who are dedicated to building upon the network of young performance makers in Leicester by offering performance and professional development opportunities. Founded in 2014, Tetrad has brought together local artists, thinkers and citizens. In partnership with Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester Tetrad have designed Us and Them, a platform of new performance work by local young artists which creates a great opportunity to experience the exciting innovative performance work by the next generation of East Midlands based artists.

Tonight’s performances

Robert Hardaker is a contemporary performance maker and live artist, based in Leicester, England. Hardaker’s practice aims to recollect a supposed co-existing consciousness and memory aided by the curation of a space and the highlighting of the senses. Through bodily action he forms his own likeness, memories and emotions around himself; the audience is a malleable entity who can choose to become part of this dialogue. They are not forced into experiencing a set of emotions, yet are guided by the artist into singular, fleeting moments of involvement. The body becomes a vessel for intimacy and reaction, works are impossible but necessary tasks, full of supposed contradictions.

Hardaker graduated from De Montfort University in 2012 with a first class Ba (Hons) degree in Fine art. In the same year he was awarded the Embrace Arts Award for dedication to arts practice and worked with Leeds art gallery to produce work for Grassington Festival Art Trail in response to Richard Hamilton’s Kent State – this work is now part of Leeds Art Gallery’s permanent collection and lending library. In 2013 he performed as part of Roger Horns’ “Youth” at the Hepworth Gallery (Wakefield). Hardaker co-ran the Attic Arts Collective and Studios (Leicester) curating various exhibitions and organising the art at Handmade festival 2013-2014. Since 2012 he has been a studio holder at Two Queens (Leicester).

Hardaker’s performance took place in one of the upstairs studios. I dropped in during the interval. The artist was completely naked and squatted on a mound of material in the middle of the room; the mound resembled the nest of a bird; his wordless activity involved tending the nesting material, digging a hole in the middle of it into he vomited. The impact of the performance was to evoke something that felt primeval, was enigmatic and at times disturbing. In the later Q&A session we learned that this was a shortened version of a long piece. Someone said it was about vulnerability and power. As he said “I put myself in this situation.”

(Cleanse) is a coming of age, it is the ridding of youth, It is a love letter to the past and an embrace of the future. Performed as a nocturne, it happens in the background, It is messy and uninvited. The performer forms his likeness around himself, before washing; the audience is a malleable entity, the programme notes explained.

Sophie Swoffer, ‘Take the Shot’

In Sophie Swoffer’s performance, Take the Shot, the audience stood in a marked square in the middle of the hall. Around them, she performed her haunting journey along the rain-stained pavements of film noir, against a backcloth of rain sound effects. Video cameras and screen and projects stood at various positions around the room, displaying Sophie’s image and performance when she in the vicinity of the camera. Scenes in her performance conjured up images we would associate with film noir, evoking feelings of danger and grotesqueness whilst playing the role of a femme fatale.

Katherine Hall, ‘Buoy Up’

Katherine Hall’s, ‘Buoy Up’, saw her enter the stage carrying the kind of buoy that small boats would tie up to. Part dance, part mime, the performance she created images through her movements against a sound background of water splashing.

The cast put on a game show in which they placed a variety of objects in the performance area and asked members of the audience what each of the actors should do with specific items. Whilst the actor was out of the room, suggestions were decided and the audience could encourage or discourage only by applauding, as the actor got ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ when near to or handling an object. It was amusing and entertaining.

Sam Metz,Got something to say – but no joy‘ Used the irregular and awkward shapes created by the elongated limbs of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, as a trigger to give a sense of celebrity, disenchantment, ritual, gender and conformity.

After the performance the artists gathered in the main hall for a question and answer session. The gave the audience a chance to explore aspects of the various performances and ask question about what inspired them. Because several of the acts involved interaction with members of the audience, the question was posed ‘what is the role of the audience?’ In the cafe area outside a board invited people to comment on another question: ‘Are we here to perform or entertain.’

That question reminded of what I had written in my forthcoming novel The Trench, a story about a live music venue and the bands that play there. I wrote:

Jennifer, said: “Making music… is a performance. You have to get up and entertain people who you have not met, in a room you have never been in before.”

“Yes. You have hit the nail right on the head”, David said. “It’s a performance. Music is about entertaining people. It’s not that different from acting in a play, or being part of a dance troupe. It’s all about the art of performance – whether you do it alone or as part of a group. People go to see bands, singers, dance groups because they want to listen to music and be entertained.”

Some of the students looked confused when they heard this. They could relate to the word ‘performance’ but ‘entertained’ – that was not a word they had associated with music before. One young man put his hand in the air and said: “Why is music about entertainment? Surely music offers much more than that? There is much more to music than just being entertained!”

The next Tetrad Us and Them show is scheduled for 13th March.

see also:

Our article about the Us and Them that took place on 3rd May 2015

Visit the Tetrad website.