As part of the recent In Between Time festival, came a show about “shape shifting to fit in; to be black enough, straight enough, Jamaican enough”. Through movement, music, and spoken word, OUT embodied defiance.
Rachael Young created an assertive dancehall-inspired performance with OUT, and by the end, the audience were caught between the pungency of fresh oranges and the scent of defiance.
Young, with her co-creator Dwayne Antony, held the audience close for an hour. While the whole performance could have been edited down ever-so-slightly, the show was well constructed, and, if the pace ever dipped, it was usually with good reason.
One scene in particular exemplifies this: as the rhetoric of a Christian anti-gay preacher blasted through the speakers, Young and Antony repeatedly dipped their shoulders and crossed their chests. The scene seemed unending, but the duration became the scene’s crux, and the audience needed to take that time to build the same emotional tolerance.
The soundtrack behind the performers ran almost without break – a blend of dancehall, disco, and spoken word. Each scene reflected a different presentation of defiance. As Sylvester’s Do You Wanna Funk – a prime example of Black androgynous style – played loudly, Young and Antony walked an imaginary catwalk.
One poem cursed “the policy, the harmony, the modesty”, and as it did, the performers searched through the audience, unblinkingly holding an individual’s gaze.
Later, as Young and Antony vogued slowly, one particular line of spoken word stuck with me: “My family depend on me, I can’t afford another felony”. Racism, homophobia; the double-barrelled intolerance of our society was encapsulated in that one rhyming couplet. The origin of the homophobic laws in many parts of the world was no veiled mystery as references to the British Empire were repeated to firmly root the acrimony.
Whether standing tall, or crouching beneath the audience, Young and Antony felt powerful. Every section felt deliberate, but as the final scene drew to a close the audience seemed divided in their reactions.
As Young and Antony peeled oranges and divided the segments amongst the front rows, the muffled sound of slurping became comical. As the performers began consuming oranges in histrionic style, beating and drenching themselves with the fruit, the audience seemed unsure of how to react. What was without doubt, however, was how OUT reclaimed the space, and the strength of the music it featured.
Read more: Best photos from IBT17