June 2016, Queen Mary University of London. Part of the Peopling the Palace Festival. Photos by Dani Harvey.
An exhibition of slapping.
The piece explores the art of slapping in a non-acting form. Derived from a need to understand the skin as a colour, as a changing surface and as a point of contact, the performers (myself, Vimbai Gavure, Sojourner Hazelwood-Connell) contextualise ‘the slap’.
Four. The exhibition focuses on 4 body parts: the face, the forearm, the thigh and the bum.
Four. The exhibition goes through 4 stages. The first stage is self-inflicted. The second stage tests projection. The third creates a percussion. The final stage is the final stage.
The exhibition has a changing facilitator. The performers take it in turns to control the piece, the music, the lighting and the narrative. It is self-run.
Slap was developed with theatre-maker Daniela Hirshova.
'This was stunning work. What could have been cheap sensationalism in lesser hands was made profound, uncomfortable and uncompromising here. The actuality of pain as a felt experience that is incontrovertibly 'real', is perhaps an over-familiar calling card of modes of performance that wish to distinguish themselves from acting. Here, you made it strange, alienated, and all the more unsettling for that. Odd, jarring...[an] experience beyond the sensational...' Martin O'Brien / Martin Welton
I Did It Because I Wanted To
May 2016, Hackney Showroom. Photos by Vimbai Gavure.
* * * Sometimes I go to the toilet at theatre intervals so I don’t have to pretend to care when people talk about their lives. * * * She dipped her fingers into plugholes and pulled out friends tangled in clumps of hair. * * *
I Did It Because I Wanted To is a series of writings exploring the ‘abominable’ intensity: selfishness.
Collected, collated and considered, the performance is primarily a response to over 70 anonymous survey submissions surrounding self-gratification, self-worship, and self-motivation. The work is a site of personal memoirs, borrowed stories, and donated experiences whereby the collector (myself) recreates, rewords, reimagines and responds, offering something to both the contributor and the audience through the transferal of material.
This journey of material and transgression of ownership means the text could belong to a friend, a neighbour, a stranger, or in fact, anyone. The authorship is both important and irrelevant. Important in that it has an author, it belonged to someone real but irrelevant in that it’s transcended into something more – an exhibited contribution to the world’s selfishness. Perceived selfishness, plotted and spontaneous selfishness, selfishness selfishness and perhaps small (very small) recovering moments of selflessness.
It’s intrigued by people’s stories and the bits of their lives they have to share. It’s inspired by a curiosity to understand people.
I Did It Because I Wanted To – a patchwork of moments, an exhibition of 70 selves, a ceremony of swallowed spiky truths.
* * * At what age does it stop being excusable and something you should know how to be or to do…or one of them anyway. Does 6 years old count? * * * She crawled over the carcasses of dead babies, legless soldiers and her mother. At least she could have everything she had ever wanted, a job at the local deli. * * *
Photos by Giulia Delprato. Morning elephant shot. Roundhouse performance shots.
SUPPORTED BY ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND, ROUNDHOUSE & LEFTCOAST.
Background People is a series of four short absurdist stories exploring the line between commitment and obligation (and the 107 decisions crammed in between).
It is a celebration of human messiness.
It is for anyone who finds themselves at the front…or at the back and thinks ‘fuck’.
R&D SHOW DATES: Tuesday 19th June @ Bootleg Social, Blackpool Sunday 1st July @ the Roundhouse, London Sunday 29th July @ Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle
Created/performed by Martha Pailing Dramaturgy by Annie Siddons R&D produced by Katy McLeod Set/costume design by Jonathan Van Beek Illustrations by Cole Turner
Interview with Joshua Idehen here. Trailer video is just here (footage of the full show is available upon request - please email me).
’Martha Pailing’s performance is beguilingly wide eyed and profoundly honest. She draws us in quickly and keeps us there until the end, as we relate and meditate in equal shares on the minutiae of life she presents to us.’ Linda Hampton, altblackpool Full review here.
'Her style is surreal and subject to extreme flights of fancy but keep its feet on the ground at all times. Hers, we predict, is a name that you’ll definitely be hearing again in the future.' Ben Willmott, live4ever Full review here.
Background People has also been scratched at: the Roundhouse - Sackler Space, 6th October 2017 The Rosemary Branch - part of Deadline: Show Us Your Sh*t!, 17th October 2017 Oak & Pastor - part of MESSY, 30th November 2017 the Roundhouse - part of DIRTY FEET, 23rd January 2018 Bootleg Social - part of Form's work-in-progress, 6th March 2018