Thursday, 1 August 2013

Rough Musick (2013)

Rough Musick (2013)

Commissioned by the 2013 National Arts Festival (July 2013), in the old St Andrews College boy's changing/locker rooms, Grahamstown, South Africa.

Theatre Arts Admin Collective (July/August 2013), in the Wesleyan Church Hall, Cape Town, South Africa.

World Stage Design 2013 and Scenofest 2013 (November 2013), at the Welsh Royal College of Music and Drama,.Cardiff, Wales. Made possible with the support of the National Arts Council of South Africa and a crowd-funding campaign.

Live Art Festival 2014, The Gordon Institute of Performing and Creative Arts (September 2014), at UCT Hiddingh Campus, Cape Town, South Africa.

Experimentica 2014, Chapter Arts (November 2014), Cardiff, Wales. Made possible with the Support of the SA-UK Season, a partnership between the South African Department of Arts and Culture and the British Council.

'Rough music’ is a practice that originated in the small villages of medieval England (but is by no means native to it) as a means for the public to disgrace and humiliate petty criminals, thieves, sexual deviants and ‘others’. This public shaming ritual was strangely carnivalesque and similar in nature and form to popular ‘Charivari’ festivals of the time, where people would celebrate newlyweds through loud and noisy public displays.  ‘Rough Music’ shaming, however, involved the creation of a brutal cacophony of sound, mostly made by cursing and angrily banging found domestic objects (such as pots and pans).  Along with mildly-violent and ‘acceptable’ torturous acts, the public would direct this barrage of sound at the chosen individual like a weapon, damning them through a symbolic expression of displeasure and exclusion.  Fundamentally, the public and the built environment were the ‘rough music’, and the sound and gesture they wielded was saturated with judgement, cruelty and shame.

Inspired by the early practices of ‘rough music’, Rough Musick is a contemporary re-engagement with these dark rituals in unconventional found spaces (an old stone school changing room, the back of a sparse concrete church, a passage of a city hall etc). In the risky work a visual and visceral experience unfolds through the brazen clashing of images and activities sourced from Gaelic folklore, Welsh ‘sin eating’ ceremonies, ‘bogey man’ mythologies and psycho-sexual fetish role-playing games. Through Krastin’s striking theatricality and characteristic heightening of the visual image and jarring movement language, original sound design by Shaun Acker and performances by Alan Parker (with Gavin Krastin), the pre-Empire white culture of the United Kingdom is rendered exotic and strange, positioning the South African artist-of-European-descent as the ‘primitive’ and ethnically-other.

Gavin Krastin's Rough Musick
(photo by Suzy Bernstein)
Created by Gavin Krastin

Performances by Gavin Krastin, Alan Parker and Lauren Fletcher

Production management by Lauren Fletcher

Lighting design by Wesley Deintje and Gavin Krastin

Sound design by Shaun Acker
(Additional music by Christina Aguilera and Vera Lynn)

Prop design and construction by Koos Marais (in collaboration with Gavin Krastin)

Set device design and construction by Mark McKeown and Anzu Wicks (in collaboration with Gavin Krastin)

Filmed by Wesley Deintje

Cue TV clip filmed and edited by Dumisa Lengwati and Debbie Potgieter

Gavin Krastin and Alan Parker in Rough Musick (photo by Suzy Bernstein)

Gavin Krastin in Rough Musick (photo by Suzy Bernstein)

Gavin Krastin and participating audience in Rough Musick (photo by Mark Andrews)

Gavin Krastin and donkey-cart drivers in Rough Musick (photo by Suzy Bernstein)

Gavin Krastin in Rough Musick (photo by Suzy Bernstein)

Gavin Krastin and Alan Parker in Rough Musick (photo by Suzy Bernstein)