Arts Review: On The Verge – Creatures of a New Domain & Shakespeare Was a Black Girl

Arches, 4th-6th June

Alice Lannon takes a look at two performances, Creatures of a New Domain, and Shakespeare Was a Black Girl  from the opening night of On The Verge. On The Verge is a festival of new theatrical works by BA students over a diverse range of courses and practices at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Lawrence Libor’s Creatures of a New Domain is an evocation of the strangeness of music festivals – their ability to bond strangers, to break or strengthen relationships and to create an atmosphere of simultaneous elation and desperation.

In the quest for escapism in this wilderness, two very different brothers Jake and Dan, each dealing with family issues, discover that they don’t actually need to go all the way to a music festival to find the answers. With so few performers in a rather small space, the play still creates the atmosphere of a large, busy festival. The well choreographed ritualistic dance sequences are an excellent highlight of the performance, conveying the somewhat animalistic nature of festivals.

Shakespeare was a Black Girl by Lynnette Holmes then offers a real insight into the issue of racism in the acting industry, an important yet often overlooked problem.

In a profession in which it is already so difficult to succeed, actress Dawn finds it is not talent or confidence that holds her back, but colour. The performance leads us to the uncomfortable scene in which a casting director asks Dawn to read the part of the maid, instead of the part she came to audition for and asks her to “give it more colour.”

Dawn’s subsequent realisation that there are no really famous black woman actors who have not achieved their fame by playing the roles of either slaves or maids, is a true wake up call to the hidden racism within the profession.

However, despite frustration and anger, Dawn finds inspiration in the words of both Maya Angelou and William Shakespeare, a black woman and a white man, proving that artistic expression and the ability to relate to this expression is not restricted to one exclusive race. The insightful piece ends on a powerful high note, with a recitation of Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise’.

Overall, these two performances from “On the Verge” show huge amounts of talent, energy and creativity from the students of RCS.

[Alice Lannon]

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