Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Dramaturgy and Tickle: Liz Aggiss @ Edfringe 2017

Part of British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2017

Maverick, anarchic, indomitable and fearless: all words that have been used to describe performance artist Liz Aggiss. Born in an era when children were seen and not heard, Liz never had a clue what she wanted to do. She just knew she wanted to be seen and heard.

Slap and Tickle is a dark and ribald physical commentary on cultural mores and sexual taboos: a disorientating display of interpretations and contradictions about women, girls, mothers, bitches and senior citizens.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I am the inspiration. As the solo, feminist, mature performer, Slap and Tickle explores sexual taboos, preconceptions and expectations on female visibility and representation. It dissects the subtle, and not so subtle world of gender politics. I stage a revolt against the mundane and banal through the re-appropriation of glamour and beauty. 

I make my body the stage on which I act out, and act up, but…. The hilarious tickle never undermines the serious slap in this solo – sheer brilliance.” Mary Brennan The Glasgow Herald. 

I deliberately make a spectacle of myself, de-familiarising the ‘codings’ of femininity. I violate boundaries between being subject and object. I am the author, so it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. “Come on everybody lets have a party!”

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Always. That’s the point of art. And hopefully that lingers on to the post show chat in the bar.

How did you become interested in making performance?

It found me. I have an odd, eclectic, non-specific background in being classifiably unclassifiable, an un-disciplined inter-disciplinary artist. Through chance, opportunity, research and belligerence I found a performing art in the expressive gesture and grotesque performance form that suit my body and me. 

I am a one-woman operation; performing, directing myself, writing texts, sorting visuality, constructing choreographic mash-ups, producing, administrating, and generally puzzling how to communicate complex ideas in a clear visual performance form.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

With 40 years of performance experience and 64 years of womanhood under my belt, I am the Mistress of Stamina and the ‘enfant terrible’ of the bus pass generation. There is no question that this performance is jammed full of familiarity and resonance, sharing direct and indirect shared histories and posing questions through clear content. 

This is not passive viewing. The work pushes and pulls you and demands your attention. It’s an ON piece! And without giving too much away, there will be audience wrangling, balloons and prizes.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

If, by ‘fit’ you mean, do I have a recognisable visual aesthetic, movement language, content driven by research and body politics, use text, humour, make dizzyingly fast paced collage work and fit me “With the spit of punk and the polish of ballet, Liz Aggiss transformed into a singular provocateur” (Exeunt), the central figure and soloist into the frame ?...

then yes, I suppose you could use the word ‘fit’. If you mean, do my usual productions ‘fit’ along a similar path and are we to expect ‘same-same’, then my answer is ‘always expect the unexpected’.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Expect to see a mature solo woman engaged in a feminist soup of collage and cut-ups, whilst lurching seamlessly between dance, text and song. Expect to revise your attitudes on mature female visibility. Expect a mirror to be held up to the invidious nonsense, name-calling and restrictions perpetrated to limit female expectations and aspirations. 

Expect a visual treat with a dizzying array of props and costumes, an aural soundtrack down memory lane and juxtaposition between vaudeville and high art, live art and physical theatre. 

And if you thought this might be a dry performance, rest assured Slap and Tickle, liberally adorned with vulgarity, cock bunting and balls, is a “fart in the church of feminist discourse” (Exeunt) and ‘”a thrillingly emancipating fuck you”(Exeunt).

This show is dark, funny, raucous, sophisticated, and potent, and it will make you simultaneously cackle and cringe.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Humour and irony are the best means to engage an audience with the serious propositions of the work. They provide a space and a frame to invite the audience to be nudged into the challenges of the content. Laughter is also a pleasurable response to elicit from an audience. Would I pay to be miserable and confused? Not knowingly!

Unpicking mythologies, platitudes, refrains, old wives tales and the invidious nonsense perpetrated to limit the aspirations of young girls and women, and suppress any sign of spirited independence, Slap and Tickle is push and pull, punishment and reward……all the way home.

Beating a path through the personal and historical, Aggiss creates a feminist soup that lurches from word to movement, from music hall to nostalgia, from costume change to prop manipulation.

“With the spit of punk and the polish of ballet, Liz Aggiss transformed into a singular provocateur”
Lorna Irvine, Exeunt Magazine

For the past 40 years Liz Aggiss has been re(de)fining her own brand of contemporary performance, blurring the boundaries between high art and popular culture; from the early 80’s supporting punk legends The Stranglers with her visual cabaret troupe The Wild Wigglers: classic solo Grotesque Dancer: award winning film Motion Control: Guerrilla Dance interventions: cross disciplinary performance The English Channel: to her current solo Slap and Tickle seen at the following Festivals; SICK! Brighton, Ignite, LEAP, Bend it! DIG, Hear Me Roar, Mature Moves Tasmania. Awards include Bonnie Bird, Arts Council Dance Fellowship, Emeritus Professor Brighton Uni, Hon. Doc. Gothenburg Uni.

Aviary, Zoo, 140 The Pleasance, Edinburgh, EH8 9RR (Venue 124)

19:10 | 1HR |16+| Aug 21 – 26 | 

Twitter: @LizAggiss | #Slap&Tickle | @FERAL_Arts

No comments :

Post a Comment