Preaching to the converted
Exploring themes of invasion, history, performance, space and the inscription on the bodies of women of the trauma of war, ANU and CoisCéim Dance Theatre's installation “Falling Out of Standing” is also a distanced, filmic response to their award winning “These Rooms” by its collaborative creators, Owen Boss, David Bolger, and Louise Lowe. A unifying theme at the heart of “Falling Out of Standing” is that of legacy, of what is left behind when the big event moves on, artistically, historically and politically. The damage, the cost, the traumas, the joys, the opportunities for hope, reflection and reappraisal. Three short films comprise the focal point of this filmic installation, which takes as its starting point the indescribably brilliant “These Rooms” and its ground-breaking interrogation of the brutal massacre in North King Street in 1916, emphasising its legacy for the women left behind. Itself a legacy of "These Rooms," "Falling Out of Standing" certainly has something to say, but it preaches to the converted and to those in the know. And like most legacies, it’s dwarfed by the memory of the original. Something against which “Falling Out of Standing” doesn’t quite measure up against, for the most part.
Watching as movies are projected onto walls forms the core of this simple, basic, no frills installation. Entering a small, darkened, derelict room through a hole in the wall, a device used previously in “These Rooms,” the experience of “Falling Out of Standing” is dependent on perspective. If you’ve already seen “These Rooms” the ghosts come out to play and stir the memory a little. If you have not seen “These Rooms” you could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about. As a stand-alone filmic installation, visually, “Falling Out of Standing” doesn’t have enough to offer. As a legacy piece, it doesn’t really do justice to its source and inspiration. It's amateur, movie making quality proves to be both its charm and its downfall, though, in fairness, Owen Boss is a designer, David Bolger a choreographer, and Louise Lowe a theatre director. Their respective disciplines, in which they each excel, inform the way they compose and direct their movies, generating as much a sense of restriction as that of possibility. Boss’s piece is haunted by the ghosts of memory, as disembodied voices fill empty rooms and stairwells like an overdub. Bolger introduces movement sequences into his invasion of space, but dance, like theatre, is notoriously difficult to translate to film, as is the case here. Perhaps because of her theatrical background, Lowe’s short film is by far the most successful, dominated by powerful close-ups of Justine Cooper, Úna Kavanagh, Niamh McCann, and Emma O’Kane, in which something of the visceral honesty of “These Rooms” is recaptured, honouring the original, but adding both depth and texture to the stories, and the women, presented there.
With the greatest of respect to Julian Lennon, “Falling Out of Standing” is the Julian Lennon equivalent to “These Rooms'” John Lennon. There’s a family resemblance, but one is constantly being reminded of the masterpiece that was the original. With “Falling Out of Standing” it's like looking at old, home movies of an amazing day in Butlins which leave nearly all the best bits out. There’s no faulting the thoughtfulness, or the ideas, that inform “Falling Out of Standing,” but the realisation of those ideas is not as inventive, or engaging, as it might have been, and often feels like an academic exercise. Neither enough to stand on its own, or paling in inventiveness to the visceral experience that gave it birth, “Falling Out of Standing” falls somewhere uneasily in between.
“Falling Out of Standing” by ANU and CoisCéim Dance Theatre runs at The Festival House, Temple Bar until April 23rd
For more information, visit ANU or CoisCéim Dance Theatre