Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

The Body Ecstatic: Reopening the Public Sphere


Osian Meilir & Company , Chapel Court & Great Hall, Aberystwyth Arts Centre , August 19, 2021
Querin by Osian Meilir & Company A year and a half; so many millions of words; we are now all self-taught virologists and immunologists. One fact of record goes unmentioned. In the three weeks of March 2020, before the regulations of the 23rd, civil society made its own decision. It withdrew, taking action before Government.

In a similar way, in this time of recovery, civil society is doing the same. It is making its own decisions. In the London Underground where masking is without legal compulsion compliance runs at around ninety percent. While legislatures debate proofs of immunisation, society acts. At least forty theatres in London are performing and recreating public space. Many require test or vaccination proof for entry.

The re-awakening continues. The National Theatre in London opened with a galaxy of Welsh acting talent in May. Young people are dancing again on the stage of the Torch next weekend. The Sherman re-performs in September. Eight hundred are expected in Aberystwyth's Great Hall for September 1st. The Wales Millennium Centre has a new production announced for October.

The National Theatre of Scotland has a sold-out show starting next week. The National Theatre of Wales is offering no theatre at all and is without public disclosure as to what its future intentions may be.

National Dance Company Wales has a long heritage, a different company culture and different ethos of public service. Its dancers have been out on the road with “Moving is everywhere, forever” and “Why Are People Clapping?”

The “Beyond the Border” festival at Dinefwr in July was first beneficiary of Osian Meilir and two companion dancers. “Qwerin” was commissioned by Wales Outdoor Arts Consortium through Articulture Wales. The dancers alongside director and choreographer Osian Meilir are Cêt Haf, Elan Elidyr and Hanna Lyn Hughes. The startling costumes are designed by Becky Davies and “brought to life” by Amy Barrett. Carole Blade is producer.

Marc Rees is credited as mentor. The effervescence of the best of Rees can be seen over the thirty minutes of “Querin”. Formally it divides in two. In the first part the score is by Tic Ashfield and Benjamin Talbo, with additional tracks by Pendevig and Gwilym Bowen Rhys. The choreography includes references to the twirls of Sufic ritual. The music changes from electronic to a wild extended violin jig. The dancers whoop, the medley of bright colours whirl. “Querin” becomes the body ecstatic. It is the wholly right art to put right these long days of sadness.

Gratitude is due to all who are gradually remaking our public sphere. The hunger for participation in public space is deep. Two audience members for the first of the three performances had made a journey of forty miles.

“Querin” continues until 11th September at Pontio, Wales Millenium Centre, Splashtonbury, Bryngarw Park and the Borough Theatre.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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