Sign up for free here and a link to access the film will be sent on the day.
Most Brits will have heard of the Mayflower, the ship that sailed from Britain carrying the Pilgrim Fathers to start the colonisation of North America. The 400th anniversary of that voyage is commemorated throughout the current year under the title 'Mayflower 400', and The Elephant in the Room, by the Devon-based dance company Beyond Face, whose stated mission is to raise the profile of ethnically diverse artists, is an integral part of the commemorations.
A skilful blend of film, insistent spoken word, and free-form dance, The Elephant in the Room is not a foray into 400 years of history; rather, the company's young dancers embody today's overlooked voices, exploring the stories of people who are still experiencing the impact of this slice of history.
The work focuses primarily on Plymouth and Bristol, port cities whose complicated social fabric is a direct result of the history unleashed by the Mayflower voyage, who are now beginning to talk more openly about themselves.
If all this sounds heavy and didactic, it isn't. Artistic director Alix Harris's text is punchy, yet poetic, everyday words put together with a musical quality that involves the listener in its insistent quest for answers to pressing questions. 'Can you see me?' it repeatedly asks. 'What does humanity mean?'
The seven young dancers, each performing in his or her own section under headings such as Humanity, Visibility and Justice, are an appealing combination of intense and fresh; skilful and expressive dancers all, they make you really care for what they're saying through their movement.
Co-directed by Alix Harris and Jules Laville, a choreographer who is also credited for choreography, and with dramaturgy by Lucy Coren, The Elephant in the Room is visually beautiful, its various landscapes – a tall building covered in scaffolding, a rocky beach, a verdant garden – providing the settings with which the dancers physically engage.
Mayflower 400 events will take place primarily in Plymouth, though the touring exhibition Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America will be at London's Guildhall from Friday 23 July to Sunday 5 September 2021.
|What||Beyond Face – The Elephant in the Room|
|Where||Online | MAP|
17 Apr 21 – 24 Apr 21, First streamed at 19:30. Available for seven days after. Dur.: 45 minutes