Childlike we could not help but be drawn into the voices. Almost sacred in its intimacy, the space before us transformed and was remade into visualisations of the words we were given. ‘Tales of Our World’ was directed by Bryn Jackson-Farrer and produced by Cate Hanlon. It dedicated an evening to story-telling across time and place.
Set in an understated space, it allowed a real sense of removal from the town. We sat on cushions on the floor and with this we were immediately taken back to our childhoods. In the moment it felt as if the bubble was transcended and instead we were far away in another space. It was almost a surprise to walk back onto North street after it had finished.
It is clear that everyone in the room will have been struck by different stories. After all, each was a completely different narrative to be introduced too and we all came with our own thoughts. Finn Antrobus’s ‘Jazz’ was especially compelling in its delicacy. We saw a young boy trying to figure out what how his understanding of Jazz could fit into his understanding of the world. The piece’s power lay in its simplicity. A darkened room, the sound of rain and an idea in each of our heads about how music could connect and draw us apart.
Juliet Boobbyer’s ‘Night’s Haven’ was also moving. It was subtle but so natural. A girl sitting awake at night thinking while the boy she liked slept in the background. We saw her trying to figure him out while also figuring herself out. The name really characterised the story. It allowed us a sanctuary to feel as if we have infinite time; a feeling that can only be felt in the dark and before the day breaks.
The two last performances were also two of the most heart-breaking to contend with.
Caelan Mitchell-Bennett’s ‘This Isn’t About You’ sees a young man struggle with his own ambivalence. In the beginning it is startlingly funny. After which the presence of a worryingly recognisable dialogue infiltrates his verbal thought processes. As the piece progresses, we witness his destruction as the reality of the world suddenly impacts him and we are hit with a sudden violence. This is a piece that’s power is heightened in part by the layered nature of the acting and in part by our realisation that it is a world not far removed from our own.
Charmaine Au-Yeung’s ‘Hung Love’ was the finale performance. As a young woman begins to carve out her own way, she realises that her boyfriend is unable to separate his sense of self from her. In an effort to rescue him from himself, her path is littered with memories of their time together. The last image was intensely haunting as she stood bathed in a cold light looking up at what he was and what he can no longer be. You cannot help but find yourself entangled emotionally in their fate and long for each of them in their different ways to find their own peace.
The importance of its entitlement as ‘Tales of Our World’ should not be undermined. These stories are reflections of our present world. Some offered magic and mysticism, or walked the line of reality. Some captured feelings and pieces of the human experience. Others were real and strikingly familiar; they were sometimes difficult but were necessary stories to tell. All, however, could not help but stir thought and feeling that was deeper than the consciousness.
The unassuming nature of our surroundings in the room really lent itself to the empowerment of the voices. As we returned neatly to the story that originally coaxed us into this world, we could not escape a sense of cyclical unity. The stories ended but are meant to be carried with you. Protected in our minds as a magical space, it was a momentary but a highly evocative event.