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  • Writer's pictureEloina Haines

Peeping Tom

Peeping Tom, Moeder @ The Barbican, London International Festival of Mime[1]


Moeder sprung from the director, Gabriela Carrizo’s, loss of her own mother. It begins at her funeral then looks back at fragmented memories. It is not about Carrizo’s mother specifically, but motherhood and its multiplicity in general[2]. I began looking at this piece because of my interest in motherhood. However, it was still useful in the way it looks at: what society assumes a mother to be, contrasted with the underlying truth and complexity of emotions and physical strains it entails. I can relate this neatly to womanhood. Moeder also intensely inspired me through its structural form and visual and aural elements.



Peeping Tom markedly creates hyper-realistic sets, however within these palpable settings, it is fragments of feeling, emotion, memories, which are zoomed into and abstracted[3]. Each show looks at specific feelings of a character or community – Moeder addresses desire and fear in mothers[4]. Moeder enabled insights into how a story may be created and told through ‘fragments of feeling and emotion rather than understanding.’[5] This inspired me to focus on one veiled aspect of some women in my Work in Progress - vulnerability. Working with emerging, imagined images or dreams about vulnerability led to the last fragment of being alone and naked at the back of the stage, before asking an audience member to dress me. To me, the act of re-dressing another sparks ideas of; a mother dressing a child, a partner dressing their other after trauma, or one putting their own clothes back on after having sex. There is vulnerability, intimacy and care within each of these bodies. Abstracting a singular emotion has been useful in making non-self-explanatory work about an issue that we are often slapped round the face with in every-day life – gender role assumptions.


Peeping Tom’s imaginary worlds, interpreted by disjointed dance (similar to that of the Rosas Company) are hidden between commonplace social interaction and discernible sets[6]. This tonal contrast between the everyday and the imagined makes for hilarious and touching exchanges. For example, in Moeder, one actress delivers a gentle, nostalgic text about memories of her ‘mama’. This is swiftly interrupted by a small mariachi musician and two security guards approaching her dancing and singing with uncomfortably big smiles. This slick shift makes for inescapable laughter and is something I wish to build on it my work, contrasting scenes of clown-like cabaret with delicate intricacy of emotion.



Moeder was also useful in my thinking between public and private space. This infusion of space was presented in the set - there were clear elements of a home (even literally as some of the performers’ family photos hung on the walls), along with spaces that an audience recognises publically such as a museum, recording studio and maternity ward. In an immediate response to the performance, I described this as ‘Russian doll worlds. One world inside another, in another.’[7] Rather than using set, I aim to communicate this same feeling of peering into layered, interweaving, private worlds through abstract images. I hope this will intensify the audience’s sense of publically witnessing something they shouldn’t be allowed to, like a woman intimately shaving through a window or a private conversation with her mother.



In addition, Moeder used arm, stomach and eye extensions to distort the body and provoke a mangled spectacle as the performer danced. It is useful for me to use body extensions for body parts I cannot physically have i.e. a pregnant stomach and milky breasts.


Lastly, I am experimenting with Foley sounds as Peeping Tom have. Carrizo describes the use of Foley on stage as a way to make theatre cinematic, to slow down time and zoom into the story because it amplifies certain moments. I find this especially poignant with the sounds of liquids as Carrizo highlights, liquids have strong relations to the bodies of women and mothers[8].


References

[1] Mother (Moeder), dir. By Gabriela Carrizo, prod. By Peeping Tom (The Barbican, 26 January 2018).

[2] Gabriela Carrizo, Interview by Laurine Mortha for backtrack.com, 8 February 2017.

[3] Gabriela Carrizo, After-show discussion (The Barbican, 26 January 2018).

[4] Carrizo, Interview by Laurine Mortha, 2017.

[5] Carrizo, After-show discussion.

[6] Dierckx, Lieve, ‘Gabriela Carrizo en Franck Chartier / Peeping Tom’, Contemporary Dance from Flanders <https://dossiers.kunsten.be/dance/portrait/peeping-tom> [accessed 2 April 2018].

[7] Response to Moeder, written by author, 27 January 2018.

[8] Carrizo, Interview by Laurine Mortha, 2017.

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