Homegrown Festival – Occupy at Battersea Arts Centre: High Rise eState of Mind and Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster
Battersea Arts Centre, a converted town hall, is playing host to the Homegrown festival this spring, a four-week celebration of underrepresented voices. There is a palpable buzz in the building, which contains not only a plethora of performance spaces ranging in size but also a sprawl of different areas to sit and enjoy a drink.
High Rise eState of Mind
High Rise eState of Mind is situated in one of the smaller venues and focuses on the struggle of generation rent, questioning the notion of whether hard work will ever actually pay off for millennials. The beats of the spoken word, hip-hop mash-up are appropriately strong and the synchronised choreography tight.
The performance intertwines the dystopian concept of City Heights, a futuristic tower block, with the stories of the performers themselves. Put together these tales feel fragmented, giving the show the feel of a collection of sketches strung together rather than a cohesive piece. Where it is lacking in polish and fluidity though, passion and authenticity abound. The vision of Conrad Murray (beatboxer and writer) feels experimental and makes a strong statement about the seeming futility of it all.
Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster
Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster, by contrast, is a slick production from BAC Beatbox Academy. Set in the exquisite Grand Hall and simply lit by hanging lightbulbs, the show explores the arbitrary ideals of beauty and acceptance framed as a retelling of Shelley’s classic. Taking the audience from the creation to the death of the monster, the performance is as clever as it is thrilling. Acapella meets pure beatbox on the stage, demonstrating the abundant talent of the six performers.
The staging showcases what can only be seen as a new generation of theatre as well as theatre for a new generation, re-telling narratives purely through vocal sound. ABH’s beatboxing and the vocal talent of Aminita Francis are deserving of special commendation, but all were worthy of the thunderous applause received.
Throwing in a beatbox showdown and performances from the Academy’s up and coming talent as well, it’s clear that Conrad Murray and Paul Cree (Academy Directors) are curating exceptional and exciting new names in Battersea. This is a performance that all will want to watch a second time.
Photo: Joyce Nicholls
Homegrown Festival – Occupy is at Battersea Arts Centre from 18th March until 12th April 2019. For further information visit the event’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster here: