The Sensemaker by Woman’s Move

BE Festival – Wednesday

Birmingham Rep


Birmingham’s BE Festival is a gem in the city's crown, bringing the best of European performance art into one hub for audiences to enjoy.

Its vibrant atmosphere and casual flow involves the audience with a welcoming style and reminds us that art is inclusive and for everyone. This year is BE Festival’s eighth year with festival directors Isla Aguilar and Miguel Oyarzun.

Last year was an uncertain year within European politics and it was the main theme for the festival. This year, with knowledge and evaluation on our side, there is the sense that the festival has a considerably more important role to play in reaching out to a wider audience.

This Festival is the crux of engagement which links cultures, values and lives in one place. The Wednesday Programme once again highlighted the talent and superb creativity from European artists welcomed into the city.

The first performance of the evening hailed from Switzerland with Woman’s Move’s The Sensemaker. This single handed piece gave us an interpretation of what it means to fit into corporate standards. The setting was strikingly simple and as usual, an elaborate set was not needed as the piece spoke for itself. We saw a woman enter dressed in formal office attire, with an uncomfortable composure. A computerised voice-over was used that sounded office answering machines with hold music and standard ‘thank you for your patience’ messages. While listening to the sounds of the machine with us, the woman became more and more impatient as the wait went on. The woman repeated the same physical actions, to different lines cut from television shows, films and songs. The piece showed us the ways in which people can interpret our actions and words and highlighted the feelings we get when we are not listened to. The Sensemaker was an interesting display of dance, physical theatre and spoken word.

Portraits and Short Stories was then performed by Panama Pictures, a company from The Netherlands. The company of six men displayed an incredibly impressive piece of acrobatic theatre. This piece was immersive and playful in every sense possible. Their fun style of sheer physical talent and creative expertise made for a spectacular watch. Their stage used a trampoline, ropes and long poles as their arena to display impossible strengths and technical accuracy. The piece showed the stages of growing up in life and the relationships we develop with the people in our lives from birth and over time. The cast varied in age and was a beautiful dynamic to physically show us about the beauty of human relationship and bonds. The men fed off each other and their bodies were unbelievable tools to create acrobatic like images to imprint on the audience’s imagination. The pace was fast and we were in awe at Panama Pictures with every movement they made.

Next was Everything Is OK, performed by Marco D’Agostin from Italy. This was a solo performance which encompassed the spoken word and physical theatre. He set was a white floor and given the size of the space, you would think that it was made to encompass a large company. This was an interesting piece; as D’Agostin tested the boundaries of the audience by exploring our attention span to explore our attention span. His performance aimed to highlight what happens to the brain and the body when we have information overload. He went from performing a spoken word sequence at the start of his piece to dancing alone in an interpretation of how we naturally will zone in and out of various situations and conversations. It was a brilliant insight as to how we communicate with each other as humans.

The end to the evening was Casa Da Esquina’s My Country Is What The Sea Doesn’t Want, from Portugal. This thirty minute performance focused on the themes of immigration, particularly those from Portugal who have immigrated to the UK. The company have a charming manner of telling stories and have the ability to fill the room with warmth and openness, they even invited some audience members onto the stage to drink wine and have a conversation.

A particularly clever concept within the show was their visual style and creativity. To the left of the stage, they had a table and on it was a collection of photographs and a video recording camera. While the performance was taking place, the camera would scan to pictures of London along with voiceovers of verbatim stories from interviews with the Portuguese community about how they made the move to the UK. This piece gave a beautiful insight into identity and the importance of community and was a profound end to Wednesday’s festival, which encompassed everything that BE stand for. BE Festival runs to Saturday 8th July.

Elizabeth Halpin


BE Festival

Index page Rep Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre