How to Keep Time: A Drum Solo for Dementia at Rich Mix
A lone drummer (Antosh Wojcik) sits in the centre of the stage, his instrument seemingly an extension of his hands, and begins to play. He uses his music (and his poetry) to create a story, or to recover one. And for the next 60 minutes, we are recovering it with him.
How to Keep Time: A Drum Solo for Dementia uses drumming to explore the relationship between music and the mind, telling the true story of a grandson and grandfather (or Dziadek) trying to communicate with each other in whatever way they can. Dziadek is suffering from dementia and can barely speak. The words he utters are in Polish, a language his grandson is not completely familiar with.
But music is without language. In this world, music is memory. How to Keep Time is a poignant, deeply emotional exploration of memory, fuelled by a sense of frustration – frustration for these two people that it has happened to them, that they are losing each other in ways they never quite imagined; frustration that some walls cannot be broken down. The piece is tense and witty at the same time, can lead the viewer to laughter and tears, and Wojcik’s words are guided by music throughout – from hard and fast rhythm when frustration begins to take over to softer beats in the more precious moments. Sometimes, his hands move and make no sound at all.
The production does not belong to one category of performance alone: it is not simply music, or spoken word or theatre – it is somewhere in between. The stage, aside from the drum kit, is bare, but the world is brought to life regardless. Despite this, the vast studio space at Rich Mix seems almost too big for the piece, a smaller, more intimate venue may be more appropriate.
How to Keep Time enjoyed a hugely successful run during the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe, and is now part way through its UK tour, proving that, though deeply personal to Antosh Wojcik himself, the story is universal.
Photo: Madeleine Rose/Penned in the Margins
How to Keep Time: A Drum Solo for Dementia was at Rich Mix from 23rd until 24th May 2019 as part of its UK tour. For further information about venues and dates visit the show’s website here.
Watch the trailer for How to Keep Time here: