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What she said but did not do

20 November 2009

Finnish theatre performer and choreographer Eliisa Eravalo's solo piece, which she performed at NEU NOW in The Arts Printing House, was an undeniable hit. It was a breath of fresh air; funny, natural and unaffected, cheeky and charming.

Wrapping herself in tape Eliisa finds she is immobile, so then proceeds to describe all the things she would have done for her performance had she been able to move. This enchanting monologue lasts 10 minutes, she then moves into hilarious hand pop-puppetry and finally dance. 

“I was a little nervous, as I have spoken to many people here whose English is not so good, so I was worried people watching would get frustrated by the monologue, which asks the audience to really imagine the performance, the performance happens inside their head.”

“Solo shows can be very tough, both for the performer and the audience, there are expectations.” Andrea Brooks, Artistic Director of Zygo Arts and chair of the theatre and dance selection for NEU NOW said,  “Eliisa really has an exceptional energetic charm, and a great sense of mischievous fun.”

“The room was really crowded, which created intimacy. I felt people were very open and willing to share themselves.” Eliisa said at the closing reception, “I felt very honoured, compared to other places, like one place which was a forum for artists, mostly intellectuals – their response was good but much more critical. The atmosphere here was very different. Recent graduates are highly critical, which is good - but there was also a willingness to take the piece.”

As her performance came to a close Eliisa asks the audience to hold hands and close their eyes, and when she said to open their eyes to ask her a question, all at once, and she will attempt to answer each one to the best of her ability.

“The first time I did it the ending was different, when people opened their eyes I had tape over my mouth – which felt very violent and diminishing to myself, like I was putting myself in the position of an art student who could not speak for themselves.”

“Nobody has ever asked a question, people feel they are not there to ask, the feel it is part of the theatre contract, there is a lot of lying in theatre that people understand. This new way, to be able to respond, was another way of exposing myself.”

“That’s a very mature way to have dealt with that,” Andrea consents, reiterating Eliisa’s phrase, “She would have been breaking the contract with the audience. The show functions because she’s been so human and honest, for us as an audience to close our eyes is quite trusting, you becoming implicit in the performance. I did feel a buzz on my lips of a question, I was going to ask “are you happy?”  I felt it would turn into my show when it needed to be her show- we understood.”

“Essentially, apart from the theoretical and dramaturgical aspect, she was a talented and very engaging performer who made us laugh and was very touching. To borrow back a phrase that politics have devalued, it engaged the heart and the mind, with wit and skill. If I talk about the show to people it’s going to sound very theoretical, so the thing I want to recommend people to do is to catch any opportunity they can to see it, because it’s really naughty, great sense of twinkle.”



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