FIRST BUZZARD AT THE BODY
BATS Theatre, The Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
16/09/2022 - 17/09/2022
By Elliot Vaughan
Circle in for an experimental evening of music and poetry about death, capitalism and ornithology.
A setlist of poetic texts are subjected to transformative compositional processes, gutting them of meaning or stumbling through the banal into the sublime. The raw material of the poems is musicalised through cassette loops and digital looper, song, screen, cunning use of microphones, and Elliot Vaughan’s dynamic, embodied delivery.
Stylistically, the show draws on 70’s sound poetry like Canada’s Four Horsemen, 60’s minimalist composition such as Steve Reich’s phase pieces, the immediacy of punk and stand-up comedy, and the sprawling romance of the natural soundscape.
“Things morph, amplify, distort in delightfully unexpected ways… in a chain reaction of events meticulously mapped out like a more virtuosic water walk by John Cage or […] A Rube Goldberg contraption the ingenuity is hilarious.” Kosta Bogoievski, Theatreview, 2021
BATS Theatre, The Stage
16-17 September 2022
$22 | $20 | $18
The Stage is wheelchair accessible. For full details about accessibility at BATS, Click here.
A celebration of solo artists, TAHI is a ten-day Festival from 8-17 September dedicated to showcasing the finest and most engaging solo performances from all around Aotearoa. With events across Pōneke in 2022, check out our website for all the details and to book.
www.tahifestival.com | @tahifestivalnz | #TAHI2022
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Composer & Performer: Elliot Vaughan
Antonia Barnett-McIntosh (compositional & conceptual),
Eleanor Bishop (directorial),
Sacha Copland (physical), and
Nick Zwart (design).
Solo , Theatre ,
A deliciously weird piece of experimental art
Review by Emma Maguire 17th Sep 2022
The stage is set esoterically with pink tape recorders and microphones hanging from the ceiling. They stand out amid the sparseness of BATS Theatre’s Stage black box. It is a striking choice and one that lends itself well to the events that follow.
First Buzzard at the Body is a work unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Billed as an “experimental work about death, capitalism and birds,” it steps far beyond those constraints and becomes a truly emotive piece of art.
As I sit in the back row of the theatre, performer Elliot Vaughan’s repetitions of the words “first buzzard at the body”, alongside bird cries and other fervent vocalisations, rumble through me. Combined with the rhythmic banging on the ceiling from the show a floor above, FirstBuzzardevolves into a wholly sensory experience: overwhelming and beautiful and frightening. It’s a tangible mishmash, and one that sets me off balance.
Projected onto the back wall of the Stage is kinetic typography, lines and lines of text that weave and leap across the screen, flashing and flickering alongside Vaughan’s musicality. Sometimes there are pictures, too; one section of the work about turkey vultures particularly amuses the audience.
The music fills the room: layers and layers of polyphonic sound created solely by Vaughan’s hitting of his body, the poetry in his words and even – at points – the use of microphone feedback. It is a brilliant choice and a particularly resonant one; in a piece about owls, the shrieking feedback is nearly reminiscent of their cries.
Vaughan’s incredible vocal and physical control in performance is backed up with an all-star production team. The talents of Antonia Barnett-McIntosh (dramaturgy), Eleanor Bishop (directorial), Sacha Copeland (physical) and Nick Zwarts (design) are all very felt within this work. The piece looks relatively simple in the scheme of things but I am certain there were multiple challenging layers behind the scenes, and each of those layers is expertly controlled in the final piece – especially in the use of multiple tape recorders on stage!
FirstBuzzardattheBodyis a deliciously weird piece of experimental art. I still don’t really know if I liked it, but it is wholly incredible to be in its audience, and for that reason, you should make sure you take the time to see it.
Warning: the show contains significant use of loud and unexpected noise and flashing lights.
- Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer