Unmoving STILL

imageWhat I want to say I hope can be helpful to the young theatre makers and actors, Jannes Erasmus and Blyde Smit, of STILL. Ambition is a good thing – you’ll need it in the theatre industry. But you’ll also need to tighten up, slicken up and make some changes if you’re going to compete in this only-the-best-make-it industry.

Although the idea and story have some potential, the execution, performance and crafting needs work. It’s always risky to act in your own show, so perhaps the problematics could have been avoided with a few outside eyes giving guidance.

My observations:

Show, don’t tell. It seems you’ve sidelined the theatrical for the ‘message’ you’re trying to get across. As if you don’t trust that we will understand through the characters and story alone that kidnapping has dire effects on the direct victim and the people who love them. It becomes didactic and audiences immediately disconnect when we’re being told what a show is ‘about’ instead of letting us figure it out for ourselves.

The “what if” questions – “what if we didn’t let society control us?” etc., social acceptance, identity, we all wear masks. This philosophising has been done since the beginning of thinking, and usually drama students get it out of the way in undergrad. If you are to tackle these themes, you must find nuance within a heartfelt story (or a poetic reflection or using juxtaposing imagery – whatever you like) so it doesn’t manifest as a series of clichés.

‘Experimental’ staging needs to be just that. You need to experiment. We’ve seen flashing lights meant to make us uncomfortable. We’ve heard distorted sound recordings meant to make us feel on edge and disturbed. We’ve seen a bucket of water that invariably someone gets dunked into, to make us feel shocked and panicky. In STILL it feels stuck on in a last attempt to make the work ‘cutting-edge’.

I guess you are probably trying to keep the show rhythmically still, calm, to work within your concept but it simply doesn’t translate. The rhythm is flat, there is no phrasing, no shift that allows us to shift with you. That’s why it feels like an abrupt ending. You haven’t guided us to it.

The biggest reason you need an outside eye is the performance quality is subpar. I’m sure you have the potential in there but someone needs to help guide it out. It felt like you were reciting lines and everything was pitched at the same level. This affected the overall rhythm and pace and so we never reach a climax.

These unattended to elements, in total, leave STILL one-dimensional. There aren’t enough redeemable qualities to make it ok. I believe that all theatre is ‘worth a watch’ because we’re subjective beings. STILL, however, needs a significant shake up before it is.

– Sarah Roberson

Still is on nightly @21.30 @ Alexander Bar for the rest of the fringe. Click here for production info & bookings.

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