Inside the Platform Young Company: Creating work in isolation

11 Apr 2020

Isabel Dickens is an artist currently working with the Platform Young Company, our performance group for anyone aged 16 - 25 years. As part of her work with the group Issy will be posting regular updates of what goes on during meetings, rehearsals and workshops:

Today we had our second video conference rehearsal where we watched the work members had made over the course of the week. This is new territory for us as we normally work face-to-face but the work people brought was exciting.

Firstly Becky, Islay and Lauren worked with text and visuals, sharing overlapping spoken texts about the experience of self-isolation, whilst Islay danced in front of a disco virtual background. They played with the contrasts of overstimulation versus under-stimulation. There were moments where they were all talking and moving at once and then suddenly holding themselves head down no words at other times.

Secondly John and Ewan worked with the virtual backgrounds feature. We pinned Ewan’s video to the screen and John’s voice-over talked us through several different ‘places’ he had travelled to whilst in self-isolation.

Sean and Tighe worked with costume and silhouette to create a dark parody of the ‘I am’s’ for their piece which visually was quite eery and terrifying.

Owen, Kirsty and Mick worked using the ‘shared screen function’ to create a kind of parody of a game show where we needed to guess ‘Who Did a Lie?’ This led to a lot of participation using group chat and each member of the group reading a story about the other encouraging us to guess, who was lying? In fact, all of the group was.

Jennifer and Ezinne worked with elements of the work we were creating before social distancing. Taking the image of lonely people dancing whilst listening to ‘Love Hurts’ by Nazareth, they danced holding their mirrors to their bodies like dance partners. They then performed choreography alongside the metronome soundtrack and eventually brought up a cuddly toy monkey and a MAGA hat to end up staring directly into the webcam in a creepily direct manner.

Every performance felt like they contained dry humour and deadpan delivery but mashed them successfully into the video conferencing software and exploited its features.

The work made me think about isolation and the way that we are adapting to new forms of communication and ways of operating in the world. It was great to see how these performances wouldn’t be the same without the software itself. Yes, they could be restaged on a stage, but they were successfully moulding the facets of the software to their needs, rather than giving up and allowing that to detract from what was made.

In terms of the work it contained strong elements of playfulness and fantasy. There was a sense in lots of the performances of an alternative reality happening online or things presented one way and then revealed as something else. This created a sense of alienation which is a theme always relevant to the work but especially relevant at this moment in time. During self-isolation I have felt that it’s even easier to take what is in the news or social media as what is the world outside because I have less and less contact with the outside world; what I enjoyed about these performances is that they played with the virtual world but also acknowledged the artifice of it.

Exciting to continue to create and share work right now. Between now and next time the members are going to find a way of communicating with a partner without breaking social distancing rules and without using the internet. Next week they will present their documentation of this task. ​

For more information about the Platform Young Company including information on how to join the group send an email to info@platform-online.co.uk

Platform Young Company


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