Light Years Away

Be Festival – Friday

Birmingham Rep


As the BE Festival draws to a close for 2019, the penultimate night of its tenth-year celebration showed three performances of varied style, demonstrating dance, artistic documentary and clowning.

The final weekend opened with Light Years Away by Spanish performer Edurne Rubio, Precedents to a Potential Future by Anna Biczok from Hungary and The End by Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas from France and the UK.

Light Years Away

Edurne Rubio’s father and uncle were cave explorers and photographers. In her sensory piece, she replicated the feelings of what it was like to explore the same caves as her uncle and father in the 1950s.

The production takes place in complete darkness, inviting everyone to discover new senses and a curiosity about being underground. The production is as close to the sense of exploring the caves of Ojo Guarena in northern Spain as if we were there in real-time using real video footage from her time below ground.

Rubio recounts her time as a cave explorer as she documents the feelings of what happens when you are alone with only your mind and darkness as constant companions. With darkness draping over us during the course of the hour long performance, our emotional senses are intensely acute, picking up on the intimate sounds of water dripping from the walls, or the different sounds of feet on the ground. The eyes are desperate to pick up on the smallest details, and become interested at the faintest look at a light from a headlamp walking closer.

The video documentary streams footage from inside the cave as well as capturing the thoughts from her father’s past explorations. The darkness brings out a slow sense of patience which gives the production a gentle pace, a possible reflection into how time is no longer a concept when darkness ensues. Rubios father and uncle made a photographic journal documenting what could be seen in the cave, which of course, is not easy in total darkness. When the spark of magnesium was replicated in order to get a split second’s flash of light to take a photo, the sudden shock of the flash was a jolting moment against the next to near darkness. The piece tantalises the senses using an autobiographical style, transforming the theatre space to create a real time experience to make it as life-like as possible.

Precedents to a Potential Future

Anna Biczok is a dancer from Hungary and has been seen on the BE Fest stage before. She performed in 2017 with Timothy and the Things. In her performance lecture piece this year, Biczok explores the perspectives of time and space, challenging the perceptions of past, present and future, as well as questioning the barriers of the individual mind. On her stage we see a table with a chair and she sits at the desk looking at the audience directly and intensely as we enter the auditorium. Her dialogue is directed with an eloquently stylised form, telling us the story of someone attending the theatre and watching a performance of a woman dancing.


Biczok uses this perception to say that the audience member and performer is in fact herself, but could be any one else watching the show tonight. She asks an audience member enter the stage and sit at her desk. We observe their movements and can see their thoughts of suddenly being catapulted in front of the eyes of strangers. After, Biczok explains her interest of working with the space around her and using the objects as materials within it. Her solo dance is accompanied by live technical music, played by a DJ who sits at the side of the stage. Her technical talent for modern dance performance shows isolating and jerking moves, using the body as a tool to explore the idea of space and time, as well as the raw human emotions of nervousness and curiosity.

The End

Bertrand Lesca is from France and Nasi Voutsas is from the UK. They won the Best of BE Festival award in 2017 with their show PALMYRA. This year, ‘The End’ explores the end of the world, and also the end of our own human life. They create a story about themselves in the future, exploring the perception of the time of the planet, against the time of human life.

The duo use an explorative physical style, blending together close chorographical movements with deadpan faces. They create comical images which gives away no emotion. Instead, their dialogue is projected via a PowerPoint slide, projected at the back of the stage. Their understated clowning style delivers humorous outcomes.


The duo are brave to hit some sore and deep moments using no spoken dialogue. The bold statements that we read from each PowerPoint slide take us to areas of the future where we would perhaps rather not think about. Lesca and Voutsas create their own narrative of a fictional autobiographical story about how their own lives will pan out, until the moment of death. Their humorous clowning style suggests that we can expect happy endings, but the narrative is totally different. Their performance remains strictly humorous, and yet the narrative is the complete opposite. Elements of confused states make it hard not to become fixated on what will happen next, as they make sure to keep a tantalising sense that anything could happen at any given moment.

Lesca and Voutsas are experts at creating a juxtaposition of the mind, in where their comical clowning style has us laughing at deadpan chorographical sequences to classic iconic tunes, and then very suddenly, they hit us with thoughts on how our life’s experiences can take a dark turn at any given point. They are not afraid to let the audience’s minds wonder to the end of life, and yet, they still give us ways to laugh about it.

Elizabeth Halpin



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