Well, if the expectation was for risk-taking and things which can't really be done in performance, Day 1 delivered.
Occupying Day 1 and leading the program was the residents of Faki, who presented the culmination of the previous month’s work. Knowing the way the audience works in the festival, it doesn’t take long for a bomb to drop – and perhaps the first was dropped for the evening by Sura Hertzberg with her autobiographical ritual about heroin addiction, an energy quickly followed up on by the fantastically trivial Nordified and the theatre experiment Talk to Me and I’ll Slap You.
First a disclaimer: it’s hard to adequately view five shows in one evening, let alone write on them. Today’s casualty was Collective B’s (AT) Spectaculat’or – a quirky physicality of togetherness and separation, which fulfilled the ‘someone has to break a window’ requirement of Faki. Adding further difficulty: the harsh halls of Medika seem to bring out a kind of violent strength in the ontology of the works, making the jump from one to the other even more difficult, as though moving between totally different worlds. As in the following days, almost everything is prefaced by an apology: I did my best.
Soft Associations declares itself as an exploration into the ‘softness’ of the body, and it’s pretty much as it says on the label. The audience enters into a space of soft, warm, light and gentle smoke, the dulcet, albeit masculine tones of Sinatra belting out I’ve Got You Under my Skin, the two performers (Liv Fauver and Kata Cots) gently splayed naked on the floor. What follows is a meditation on ‘softness’ and the (particularly female) body, Nina Simone cutting against the opening Sinatra as a musical presence, sometimes ironically silenced, herself reduced to a projected image. The performers adopt an awkward, anguished movement that is almost struggling against its own display, achieving a kind of liberty against Simone’s Chauffeur, only for it to be suddenly ripped away by repetitive and reluctant exposure and concealment, reminiscent of conventions of (male) erotic pleasure.