Shapes of everyone – everybody at Swindon Spring Festival

15 May

An expectant hush descended in the Swindon Arts Centre auditorium as Swindon Spring Festival director Matt set us up for mike-drop moments. We were to have a unique opportunity to listen to the unedited words of a team of teenagers, teenagers comfortable in their own skin, bold and beautiful, in Everybody by teen performance group, Rapport (Revolution Performing Arts).

I said ‘unedited’, but I mean that teachers or mainstream media have not massaged and cleansed their messages for popular consumption. The script, lighting, sound, choreography and music – the whole performance – had been produced by the young people themselves. Refreshing to say the least.

Everybody kicked off with, well everybody, the whole cast, school-uniformed up, with the usual personal tweaks for style, fashion and independence eg bomber jacket worn halfway down the back, ties askew and mini skirts at a level of choice. Cartwheels and mickey-taking ‘floss’ dancing animated the stage.

Everybody by Rapport, photo © Fernando Bagué

A confident girl-duo set off a story of cattiness and playground gossip with the claim, it was just a joke. Not often does one hear a teenager stating clearly not “I can’t help it” but “I can help it. I will help it!”

In No Tears Left to Cry, stage discipline was high, with the actors motionless during solos; a schoolgirl gossip song turned on its head by the victim’s retort: I will always be there for you.

Indeed, the cast was always there for each other. When some began…others let them finish. Warm applause greeted every musical number, on teenage topics from acne to philosophical thoughts such as, everybody’s chosen who you are.

Choreographed stage routines were carried out seamlessly, and emotion-loaded dialogue was passionately delivered: I’m erasing myself from the narrative. I’m burning the letters. Burning the memories. Screw them.

Catching our emotional breath, we clapped to the rhythm of Human (The Killers): Are we human? Or are we dancer? and, a line I can relate to, sometimes I get nervous when I see an open door. The front and middle stage hug, hugged us all.

Everybody by Rapport, photo © Fernando Bagué

Why am I not good enough gave us a professional pageant of churning emotion. On stage tonight, siblings showed and celebrated their understanding and love for each other.

My world fits in squares and lines and numbers brought the house down and tears flowed, and flowed more as we heard In me a garden grows.

After their own well-earned final curtain bow, the cast raised the roof for Jack (age 15) in technical, and Callie (age 14) as stage manager, and the crew, including mentor Laura Barnes, who guided them through the whole production process from creative page to mind-blowing stage.

After the show, parents and participants alike, and actors spoke of how amazing it was being part of the show, and parents had nothing but high praise for dedicated and inspirational leader Fi, of Revolution Performing Arts, and Rapport who created the show.

This moving theatrical show led us on a journey of discovery that said: don’t label or box us in. We have far more in common than that which divides us. We can love ourselves and each other, and together we can be brave.

Everybody answered the Beatles’ question in a song, long ago, You say you want a Revolution? We can now, after tonight’s show, respond to that, by hollerin’ back …Yes. We want a Revolution of Performing Arts.

Revolution Performing Arts revolutionpa.co.uk/

www.facebook.com/RevolutionPerformingArts

Words by Tony Hillier. Photos © Fernando Bagué

Everybody was performed by Raport, the teenage performing arts group within Revolution Performing Arts, on 12th May 2019, at Swindon Arts Centre, as part of Swindon Spring Festival.

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