Fragile – Joy of Sound Operetta 2016

Fragile: A Sonic Arts Operetta produced by Joy of Sound 2016 A filmed narrative by Vesna Marich working with JOS volunteers telling a story of the development and public presentation of JOS’ first Operetta. We trust that this work will stimulate the interest of potential creative partners to become involved in further development of the project. For more information please contact: William Longden at ><  or  at  07906916524 On 5th August 2016 Joy of Sound premiered Fragile. The production was the outcome of a 10-week Summer workshops series, convened one day per-week on Fridays at St Peter’s Heritage Centre at Vauxhall. JOS volunteers, project participants and associates of all ages and abilities were invited to attend. The workshops became a creative meeting point for JOS members old and new and a catalyst for creative interaction. The concept for the operetta grew out of an interest in ‘The representation of  disability in UK folklore’ – based on literature {Fairies and the Folklore of Disability:  Changelings, Hybrids and the Solitary Fairy; by Susan Schoon Eberly. Folklore, Vol. 99, No. 1. (1988), pp. 58-77} that suggests disabled people were in the past labelled as pixies,  brownies and changelings. Participant discussions about the nature of (dis)ability, invisible  impairments, culturally-situated concepts of ability and the ethics of representing another  person’s story, led the group to enquire into their own experiences of impairment. It was felt that this would lead to authentic meaningful explorations from which the narrative of the proposed operetta might emerge. Throughout the workshops, experiences were shared and explored through dream-work, mandala drawing, movement and voice. Reflective group-work facilitated a flow of mutual acknowledgment and shared responsibility. Devised elements of sound and movement that reflected both individual and collective interpretations of impairment materialised. The polarisation of male / female paradigms was played out in humorous parody. Creative gesturing of suppressed fears and phobias allowed reintegration through creative processing. Pre-determined and emergent elements were worked and refined as participants continually reprocessed their experiences – for example, exploring a thought through a movement, transferring the movement into a drawing, and then singing what somebody else had drawn – in a process known within JOS as “sensory looping.” At its core, this production emphasised the process and significance of embodying one’s own experience and living creative process in the moment. Participants came forward during the production process with their artistic responses to personal experiences of impairment. Hypnotic spirals, drawn by a participant  at a time of deep personal crisis, provided the inspiration for the exploration of compulsive movements.  Arresting shadow cartoons and shadow-play emerged from the combined experiences of participants and provided visuals that became incorporated into the piece. The operetta also featured newly designed and produced JOS Krars – adaptations of a traditional Ethiopian / Eritrean lyre type instrument which dates back to at least 2700 BC. The Krars are now in constant use at JOS sessions, where their accessibility and versatility make them popular amongst JOS’s broad variety of workshop participants. The audience at the Fragile launch event responded strongly to Fragile  and their feedback emphasised the piece’s cathartic nature: “The piece was very moving and highlighted the different emotions and feelings that human begins experience and how these emotions can over take us and make us feel trapped. I also liked the fact that it touched on how the creative arts can help to release these emotions and unite one another by creating.” Georgie

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