Love, War, and Recycling- Reviewed and Interviewed
By William J Scherer
The room was dimly lit and scattered with trash in the middle of the stage.
I was worried a bit; what if one of the lovely little siblings watching the performance with their parents had just spilled the rubbish on the floor?
“Should someone pick those up?” I thought to myself.
Then the lights fade out, a performer walks out with a broom and a voiceover to explain. Our protagonist had gone out onto the stage with a spoken word track to clean the streets.
Then…Oops. The music cuts from the speaker and the spoken word track stops. This hiccup of the Bluetooth speaker going out had me thinking the rest of the play may be a work in progress but I was terribly wrong.
The protagonist maintained her composure and then the dancing begun. There was a wild swinging about of props and a cluster of performers rushing the stage.
They worked like a colony of ants: strong, mighty, and focused in building different sets for the play with white plastic boxes the size of four microwaves put together.
All the while they moved in the motion of dance, stacking boxes according to the rhythm like a machine. The first set formed was a kitchen, where our characters were pleasantly introduced one-by-one with fiery breakdowns of music and quick solo performances.
After these first tastes of dance I was really shocked at the quality and found myself with my jaw hanging in a smile. The audience wanted to applaud them on the moves they were making but the production was moving so quickly they were forced to just sit down and have their eyes try to keep pace of the action.
The characters all danced in their own style and shined. By this point, I had forgotten the hiccup at the beginning of the play and the spoken word narrator had come back in to lead us into the plot.
The spoken voice was not attributed to one character but kept in the third person to express observation of the streets. Rather than using the sound of their voices, the actors displayed their expressive art through the form of dance.
Meanwhile, the performance was calculated and well-practiced to keep in time with the voice track. All the dances were high octane and carried out in one fell swoop.
As the plot moved along, more and more performances shook the ground and rallied the audience to lead to the point of: Love, War, and Recycling. The play was managed beautifully both in following the spoken word and the skill of dancing.
Eventually the play led to the characters uniting even past the conflicts of Love and War. The streets were made clean. The art that this play produced showed how weak violence is and how strong are people that can forgive.
Those dancers themselves were strong and I was gifted the opportunity to get interviews with them. My first interviewee, Shalice, played the role of mother. She spent a lot of time on stage so the only time she wasn’t smiling was when she was taking a breather because of how hard she worked.
When I asked her favourite part of the play understandably she said: “I really enjoyed the Beyonce Girls routine.”
This is when actresses in the play got together and took formation against the villain. It was a flashy, violent, and empowering in-step dance.
“It was tough doing all that dancing but worth it.” She said.
When asked what the main theme of the play was, Shalice replied by saying, “Two families can come together.”
That’s the truth! Anyone can come together despite conflict especially when the dance circles are so welcoming and vivacious.
Next, I approached the twins in the performance who were actually two good friends off the stage as well.
They agreed to an interview and remarkably were still buzzing with energy. When asked about the performance they said: “The hardest part was changing clothes in-between scenes,”
The young people performing in this play have been dancing for years so the dancing came easily and flawless but since the action was paced so fiercely, getting from one outfit to another was definitely a hassle for them.
With a bit of twang, spunk, and whatever else energy a talented 9-year-old possesses one of the twins said, “Yeah the dances look very complicated but with a bit of practice it’s really nothing.
“I enjoyed working with the older group; I have been doing this since I was six years old,” She told me.
Her Mum looked at her friend and her friend made an inquiring face. She looked confused and cracked a grin. I asked her what she thought the play was about.
“This was about everyone coming together and loving and everything,” her twin chipped in, “And war and recycling!”
I was also given the chance to talk to a lot of the young men who performed. This included the main protagonist who was in love and the villain with the knife. They were just celebrating a job well done after putting so much into the play.
These were young men who had been dancing for years like the twins & Shalice. They started around the age of seven and have consistently had Paddington Arts as a place to make friends and channel any violence into artistic form.
They were glad to witness how excited I was about seeing the performance. For me, it was similar to seeing trapeze artists jump over alligators when watching the fight scenes and everything else fell wonderfully into place.
The fight scene was one of my favourites and actually ended up being one of the toughest for the performers to produce.
There were some disagreements about who made what moves in the fight scene and “a real fight over the fight scene.” I could see why it wasn’t an easy performance as it kept the same speed as the previous dances but incorporated the swinging of fists.
Unfortunately, through the labor of love and tough practice, one of the performers told me how he basically tore his knee while practicing. It was all for good reason!
I explained again to the guys how happy I was with the play being a success and the excited faces of family members going to greet their children was confirmation of how well they did.
The play was performed beyond my expectations. In the department of dance everyone was well calculated and fostered a really good time.
I asked the collective of them all huddled in a squad what the plot to Love, War, and Recycling meant to them. They looked at each other all knowing the answer to themselves but not knowing who wanted to speak first.
One of them spoke and said, “This was just emotion coming through.”
The play was always filled with violence or war or love and the guys laid out the emotions through dance. Violent or joyful, they spoke without words the entire time.
What they were trying to say is they didn’t need violence in the streets of London but rather a need for understanding. They made it through art, working with their friends and then performing while holding nothing back.
The play took about two and a half months total to organise but they performed with an energy like it only took them a minute and were refined enough that it looked like they practiced for a year.