I’m not normally a big fan of arty farty stuff. Perhaps it is that I’m an awkward creature myself, and there’s a subconscious aversion to the prancing and dancing routinely found at such events. It’s true too that, you don’t normally expect to see a post such as this on the blog, it’s not exactly techie. However, sometimes, you just make an exception; it’s been a long time brewing this one, and I’m absolutely compelled to write it.
2003 saw my first year draw to a close at Queens University Belfast, and my sister organised for us to go and see an outdoor production by Improbable Theatre, in collaboration with the World Famous – entitled ‘STICKY’. At the time I had absolutely no idea what it was about, or what to expect, but I’ve never been so glad to begrudgingly go to see something ‘arty’ in my life.
As it’s name suggests, ‘STICKY’ is part performance art, part structural magnificence, with the structural element being created out of something with an everyday familiarity yet extraordinary appliance. Yes. That’s right folks. Sellotape is the main material element in the show, which only adds to the wonderment and awe at how such a fragile material could create something so majestic.
With plenty of suspense built with opening audio from sections of Gorecki’s famous Symphony of Sorrows, the open procession is performed as darkness falls. It begins with a cacophony of sound, light and smoke, before the weaving of a giant web from taut strips of Sellotape streaming from a purposeful procession of actor/ technicians.
With the pace and organisation of worker ants, dancers scurry and encircle the beast being created before us, and with every beat of the drums around us, we watched the giant structure unfold, grow and emerge from the ground before our eyes. As it grows and breathes, purple and red pyrotechnics inside the structure gives a sense of a heart beating, before a giant crane begins to raise the structure off the ground to stand on its legs, with fireworks and flares all the while, illuminating the night. Giant Sellotape cogs at the base of the structure are set alight and manually operated by the dancers below, further willing it to rise like a phoenix from the flames.
As it grew, we witnessed the newbirth of a fairy like creature at the top of the tower, and the show climaxed in a firework driven eruption of stardust, bringing the fragile structure to its final resting place. At its core, the show symbolised the birth of the entire festival, in all its spellbinding illuminance, and was hands down one of the most exciting and invigorating things I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. If you ever have the chance to go and see it, its should be on everyone’s things to do before you die – It will simply leave you spellbound for years to come.