The Forest Fringe Microfestival

Forest Fringe Travelling Sounds Library

Last night I finally got to see some of the work coming out of Andy Field’s Forest Fringe. The microfestival at BAC was a vibrant and buzzing combination of short experiences, fuller scripted pieces, sound work, music, installations and intimate performances. Some of the pieces were more ‘finished’, whilst others just setting out on their first period of R&D. The whole event fitted into the nooks and crannies of the BAC building, and filled the spaces in between with live music and discoveries aplenty – one highlight being the items of clothing dotted around, inviting you to take them in exchange for you’re an item of your own, and it story. Like any good festival, there was more than you could see in one night, and each attendee built their own experience.

Pieces I encountered included Search Party’s Growing Old With You, in its early stages of an R&D process investigating how our society is changing with its aging population. The issue was approached on a micro-level in a one to one experience that exposed the performer’s approach to their aging, before asking you to exchange your own story for a small birthday cake. Though this was the ‘newest’ work that I experienced, it was also the one that affected me in the rawest manner. I’m definitely going to be looking to hear about what it grows into.

Mamoru Iriguchi did the best sideways step in heels I’ve seen a man in a dress do, as he held your hand in the dark, asking you to investigate the house you share during a power cut, illuminated only by a head torch (projector affixed to a helmet, projecting a rich animation, which moved with you.)

Tania El Khourys Fuzzy asked an audience of up to 5 to act as her and her (absent) partner’s therapist. The piece felt like it was erring on an interesting clash of cultures as seen through the relationship of a Lebanese woman and a man from the Midlands. Though the performance perhaps felt like it was playing to a larger crowd, how we adjust to more intimate performance styles (does a more expressionist approach alienate in a useful or destructive way in intimate performance?) is definitely something that bears investigation.

Charlotte Jarvis’ video installation All American Hero wafted the smell of cold Chinese takeaway and stale popcorn towards you as you slumped on a sofa, watching the video diaries of the world’s first All American Hero. Something between X Factor and the Million Dollar Man, it felt all too plausible.

Throughout the night, I dipped in and out of the Travelling Sounds Library (pictured), which featured the work of Blast Theory, Unlimited Theatre, Duncan Speakman (and more). The library invited you to settle onto a sofa, open up a book, and discover an mp3 player and headphones containing a selection of several phonic experiences lasting from 2-40 minutes. Kaleidoscope by Abigail Conway was a particular highlight for me, a piece that asked if you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?

Finally, I investigated the Waiting Room, where you were able to peruse the emails that scored the process of putting the festival together. Stressed, funny, and often personal, this view into the ‘back channel’ of the event gave the whole evening the feeling of ‘opening up’ rather than ‘presenting’, which fitted perfectly with the fringe ethic.

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