Feeling the Buzz: Hive City Legacy at The Roundhouse

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Nine fierce femmes of colour fill the stage for 75 minutes of physical performance mixing spoken word, song, dance, circus skills.  It’s cleverly paced, telling a story of integration of a single lonely soul into a community of powerful and powerfully differentiated bodies working together for liberation. The cast move along and around a black and white set that doubles as urban skyline and the cells of a hive. Along the way, like bees collecting pollen, the crew tell observational stories of oppression, depression, resistance, love, in busy urban communities. Members of the hive step up to lead.

There are moments of deep intimacy such as when Farrell Cox joins Rebecca Solomon on an aerial rope bringing to rest her painful struggle with its toils. And of hilarity, when the entire hive twerk. In the main, it is the bodies that are the poetry in this performance, but there are some standout moments for the spoken word: such as Koko Brown’s tale of depression overcome, and courage found through the loving energies of other women: ‘Leave your home, you are not alone, the gates are open, you are welcome here’.

What you see on stage is made by a team driven by the same spirit of fierce creative energy and collaboration. It is a new piece of work created and directed by Lisa Fa’alafi and Busty Beatz, creators of Hot Brown Honey, a mash up of music, dance and burlesque produced by Australian company Briefs Factory. Added to this mix is hip hop artist Yami ‘Rowdy’ Lofvenberg. And a crew of cast and creatives who are all femmes of colour.

There is a palpable euphoria about working together to make art which can put difference on display and work up and out imagined ways of being that are not confined by having to ‘represent’ diversity as a token woman of colour in otherwise white productions. The social activism of the piece is upfront, and rage is one of the main energies that drive the performance. Its release though is contained, controlled, directed. Just as the very different bodies, voices, performance skills, life histories are given room to move on stage while also coming together to make a force greater than the sum of its parts. 

Press night at the Roundhouse coincided with the World Cup Semi-final on a warm night in Chalk Farm. The pumping music, the glorious chiming of various timbres of voice and music styles from the performers, and the shouts from the audience easily absorbed the competition from the streets. The stings in these tales leave you tingling.

Hive City Legacy is at the Roundhouse in London until 21st July 2018.

◄ Addressing The Poetry Periphery

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