Ghostland Cinema; Does it Start with a Kiss?; Wunschkonzert; Waiting

BE Festival

Birmingham Rep


The penultimate night at The BE Festival sparked a high and energetic interest with four pieces of art from around Europe complemented by a showcase of visual arts and music.

Now in its second year at Birmingham REP, The BE Festival promotes a celebration of creativity and art  from fourteen countries.

Friday’s evening programme demonstrated a night of theatre, dance and art inspired by companies from Spain, Hungary, Germany, Cuba, Belgium and Iraq.

We were introduced by a somewhat unconventional start to the evening as The REP welcomed the audience via the back of the studio which was transformed into a party of culture, as we entered a thriving world of colour and excitement with an exhibition of ongoing projects from The BE Festival, creating an energetic buzz and anticipation for the performances ahead.

After a fascinating insight of the inspiration that BE Festival has created thus far, we entered the studio from backstage, a comforting and intimate idea to show that we the audience we just as important to the festival as the performances.

This only highlighted further that art is for everyone and not one person is excluded. There were no seat allocations during these performances and the result was a wonderful atmosphere of friends and strangers exchanging thoughts about performances and the festival, creating a universal sense of involvement.

The first performance was from Spanish theatre company Mingbeast’s ‘Ghostland Cinema’. This showed a great bond between English and Spanish theatre as performers Gemma Rowan and Ixchel Rubio Martinez painted an ambiguous picture of how easy it is not only to commit crime, but most importantly, what the motives are for committing it.

Both ladies worked well together in this artistic and humorous showcase, however the performance was sometimes hard to follow and the meaning was lost at certain points. Perhaps this cryptic piece placed too much emphasis on visuals and motifs rather than narrative. Still this was a thoughtful and entertaining performance.

Next we were introduced to ‘Does it Start with a Kiss?’ by Eva Duda Dance Company. This explosive trio from Hungary gave us thirty minutes of physical passion, with an awe inspiring piece of choreography exploring the physical relationship and dependency between one person and another.

This thrilling performance highlighted effortlessly the emotions we sense intimately that are indeed hard to express using words. Dancers Beatrix Simko, Andor Rusu and Milan Ujvari held our attention and wide-eyed gazes as they took us through their captivatingly sensual and energetically high showcase of the motions of physical relationships.

This interval played just as big a part of the evening as the performances themselves. In this the audience were invited to sample a Spanish inspired dinner on the main stage and enjoy the thoughts of other festival goers. This was an excellent interlude and a great allusion to the essence of what BE Festival is all about.

After good company and food, the vast and excited audience were introduced to another movement piece with Cooperativa Maura Morales’ performance entitled ‘Wunschkonzert’. Morales’ solo performance, which took inspiration from the same titled play by Franz Xaver Kroetz, presented a lonely and isolated atmosphere, showing a physical longing captured by jarring moves and passionate expression. Morales is impressive at exploring the essence of being alone and longing for companionship.

The evening programme concluded with an instillation of video, dance and real life documentation with director Mokhallad Rasem’s ‘Waiting’.

Rasem experienced the terrors of war whilst working at The National Theatre of Iraq, which inspired him to create the moving performance.

This production used the question ‘what does waiting mean?’ as its central thought and from this we saw the responses from strangers of real-life and their stories which provoked deep and touching reactions from the audience as the lives of different people were revealed.

The performance’s fundamental emphasis relied heavily on the element of film and unfortunately the inclusion of dance and movement did not fit within this soft piece. The performers used white sheets as an artistic frame for projections which gave a feeling that the performance was longer than it actually was.

The physical elements did not accentuate the power of what the strangers in the videos had to say but instead, let us down as we waited for the performers to become more involved. Perhaps this was an ironic injection made intentionally by Rasem as we too experienced a sense of waiting.

Each piece showed a worldly experience with the universal exploration of art being at the centre.

Elizabeth Halpin



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