London is always bursting at the seams with exciting events. But there is one annual fringe theatre festival that is close to my heart – A Season of Bangla Drama. This is now in its thirteenth year and is running from the 1st till the 29th of November 2015; bringing a programme of the best new talent in theatre, dance & music to London’s East End.
The organisers have asked me to review and blog about this year’s plays. And as with every year, it’s an absolute honour for me to engage with a festival I would encourage everyone to attend. It’s a month of discovering emotions within you that you may have never felt before, and watching the stage come alive with colour, powerful delivery, rhythm, and storytelling that continue to enrich our community.
‘Impulse’ by Soulfire Theatre, Written by Hussain Ismail
On Friday 13th November, at the Brady Centre Theatre in East London, my friend and I were given the biggest reason to start training and work on our core haha. Watching Lianette Rodriguez who played the role of Nadia, dance, fight, move and grow on the stage, using the space in the most fast paced and dynamic way I have seen in a very long time, was an honour to say the least and a wonderful way of making all of us sitting comfortably stagnant in our seats, feel very unhealthy and desiring a fraction of Lia’s stamina and physical strength.
‘Impulse’ centres on the preparation of a female martial artist for her championship fight. She focuses every last drop of remaining energy to train. But as the first fight draws closer another battle begins, even before she has entered the ring.
This is a tale of a fighter’s passion to conquer everything that holds her back. It’s more than just winning – it is the need find out what she’s made of, and, ultimately, who she really is. Dream and visions become reality and this riveting and inspiring one woman show uses dance and physical theatre to tell a story of blood, pain, self-reliance and triumph.
I have always felt very nervous for artists who attempt to deliver a solo production. A whole play hinging on the performance, delivery, expression and energy of one artist is quite a challenge and the preparation, training and direction has to be uncompromisingly good… very good. And I have to say, it really was with this production.
The months of training was clearly visible as Nadia, the protagonist took us through a powerful journey of the mind, the body and the heart. The challenges she encountered were experiences many of us could relate too. We all have goals, and often the path to that goal can be redirected or affected by personal obstacles, some caused by others and some by ourselves – all impacting the way in which we reach our goals and how our character develops in the process. Nadia was able to execute this journey very well.
Her beautifully choreographed delicate movement which was often punctuated with occasional bursts of nostalgia through quite whimsical movements, juxtaposed with boxing and running and skipping, kept us all at the edge of our seats. We too felt the heat of her pressure, we too danced with her when she was happy, we too floated across the stage when she was curious, and we too felt her pain when the lighting and music and her composure created the perfect ambience for self doubt or sadness.
For an actor to be able to express all these emotions through dance and movement alone, with the support of a few words on a projector and the beat of an amazingly talented tabla artist Yousuf Khan, is quite a feat. I applaud Lia for holding this piece and for Hussain’s ablity to take often very complex emotions and deliver them through this trajectory in such a spirited and powerful way.
My only real constructive critique would be that the words on the projector were often no needed and the story at times did not feel clear or easy to follow but with Lia’s tremendous performance and the tabla which was a foundation for this piece in so many ways, I think helped carry this production and made it the success I feel it is.
Cast and Production Team
Director – Hussain Ismail
Cast: Lianette Rodriguez
Tabla: Yousuf Ali Khan
© 2015 Shroomantics ~ Rahima Begum