With nothing but silence they turned their bodies to face the noise – (Dis)Order in chaos

Lorin Sookool and Nicholas Aphane. Photo: Nereesha Patel

The world is dying. Socially, politically, economically and environmentally, it is being stripped of its ethics, its resources and its ability to sustain and protect its human inhabitants. Similar to T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”, these inhabitants are slowly but surely becoming emptied of their morals, vitality and voice in response to the oppressive chaos surrounding them. Ultimately, we’ll be left only with empty bodies, forsaken to a trash-pile-ridden future.

The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative’s production With nothing but silence they turned their bodies to face the noise explores the ongoing destruction that these bodies have unleashed on the world. As both agents of change and of chaos, they are responding to the reality that they have brought upon themselves.

Silent, save for the occasional dialogue, the wail of a soprano singer in the background and the sound effects uttered into a microphone, the white-clad performers — the “live bodies” — make full use of the vast space that the Great Hall provides. As members of the audience take their seats, they are wandering around on the stage, blank-faced and voiceless. Throughout the performance you can catch them sharing glances, as if they want to communicate with each other, but they do not have the strength to do so.

Sometimes they dance in a way that evokes a desire to be heard, frantic and tense, until they are quashed down by their peers. Other times they are on the run from a female performer in a black dress, carrying empty water bottles on a belt and chucking crumpled pieces of paper at them — no matter how hard they try, they cannot escape her.

Different elements are used to bring …Noise to life. In addition to the aforementioned sound elements, there are two projector screens. The smaller one shows leaves rustling in the breeze, whilst the other is larger and shows video clips of different scenes, such as cows grazing on rubbish-strewn land. There are also clips of the performers dancing in a forest, from gracefully moving around trees to fighting against claw-like branches, we as the audience see the extent of the current struggle between us humans and nature.

The theme of pollution is quite prominent. There’s an overhanging prop from which crumpled pages and foil are hung. At one point, the performers pelt the audience with paper, which gradually starts to litter the entirety of the floor. During an intense duet, the bodies of two performers balance against each other as if they cannot bear to touch the ground. It speaks of the way that humans are refusing to face the consequences of the damage they have caused to their own home — consequences which they cannot avoid for much longer.

…Noise succeeds in drawing attention to the chaotic present that we find ourselves occupying. There are still those bodies trying to sustain this world’s livelihood. Inevitably though, as the production shows, we cannot escape our damnation — our battle will end not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Watch …Noise on 8 July at 6pm and 9 July at 12pm at the Great Hall.

By Nereesha Patel