On a Thursday night at the Tron Theatre, I stumbled across one of the compelling pieces of theatre and live performance I have ever seen. Blow Off is a piece of guerrilla theatre which is accompanied with a full gig set up with live guitar, bass, drums, synths and viola – all acting as the heartbeat behind the words that are sang, spoken and screamed by creator and performer Julia Taudevin. Blow Off is a part of the Take Me Somewhere festival, which is currently celebrating and showcasing contemporary performance.
This crucial piece is presented to us in front of the blank, dark walls of the Tron which is paired with an elaborate lighting set up. Credit has to be given here to lighting designer Simon Wilkinson, who through his work was able highlight Julia at the most tender and heartbreaking of moments. The standalone, taller lights dotted throughout the stage acted sometimes as stars against a backdrop of a black sky or sometimes as flashing warnings. We are pulled through feelings of elation, devastation and strength all at Taudevin’s capable hand, and we go willingly with her. The piece tackles an assault, although the protagonist returns to walking the same street – you know the one – in a brave act of rebellion and courage in the face of trauma. Taudevin channels Kathleen Hanna, fully tapping into female aggression and the frustration behind the ownership of her body and she pours all of this into her exquisite execution. She seeks human connection which then, with the fatal outcome of the play, touches on religion and how the media will often get it wrong. This does not feel as if she is speaking for any other minority but her own but it was particularly commendable the way of which she was able to bring up the subject in a considerate way. The ultimate outcome is to blow up the patriarchy sky high and crafted through the lens of her work place as her final place of the ultimate revenge.
In a Q&A section following, the incredible performers were joined with Jackie Wylie, the artistic director of the festival, to discuss political theatre, it’s importance and in particular where Blow Off fits in all of this. While Taudevin says that she is “fucking bored” of the term political theatre as she says that all theatre, and everything that we do as individuals is always, to some degree at least, a political act. The final question comes from a man who asks all of the performers what then are they next going to do after the play – alluding to what “real” activism they are going partake in. If this had been a quartet of male performers blurring the lines between live musical performance and theatrics, I do not believe they would be challenged on what they would be doing next – as if what they’re doing now is somehow not enough. It is and it was. Everyone involved with creating this should be immensely proud for bringing something so fresh, moving and essential to the stage.
Green Light Go is their first single which is available at ajuilataudevin.com/blow-off and full live album of the show will be released later in the year to accompany a UK-wide and international tour.