“It’s easy to conquer a people divided”
In a London ravaged by war and waste, two groups of survivors fight to find a space to call home. HATCH – what happens when the spaces we call our own shrink, shift and are invaded? What’s On Africa went to find out. We were not disappointed. Here are 5 things we loved about the experience.
Location, Space and Atmosphere:
The Hackney Showroom is an intimate space, requiring a vivid imagination to bring it to life. The team behind Hatch displayed an inspiring level of creative genius in their ability to create a powerful atmosphere even with a small amount of carefully selected, symbolic props and intelligent lighting.
Throughout the performance, lighting danced on the cast members faces and bodies at all the right times to bring to life their exceptional performance, intensifying the impact.
Viewers were seated on either side of the floor space with a choice of chairs or cushions – every angle of space was able to be seen. At times, it was hard to distinguish whether you were a performer or audience member, due to the intimacy and personal feel of the production and the use of space. Cast members were also brilliant in engaging with the audience due to their script and use of space. These details came together to ensure the Hatch’s thought provoking themes were delivered straight to the soul.
Versatility of the Cast:
Flowing between accents perfectly, commanding floor space powerfully, and projecting human expression in an undeniably profound and realistic way, meant that the skill and passion of each cast member could not be ignored.
Each cast member played their part brilliantly, enabling the viewer to become lost in the character’s presence, their thoughts and personalities. The themes presented in the play were easily digested when provided by such a skilled cast, so clearly invested in their individual parts, as well as the purpose of Hatch on the a whole.
In short, the script was nothing other than poetry, presented through theatrical performance, conversation, dance and song. The young writers behind Hatch, Amara Ranger (@amara_ranger) and Nimmo Ismail (@Nimmo_) , displayed their ability to be attentive to the use of metaphors, in order to highlight layered issues in a myriad of abstract ways. Many times a viewer was provoked to think independently about a particular scene in order to decipher it’s meaning – a powerful thing for a script to do.
The script dealt with heavy themes of race, self – identity, perception, history, power and more. However, whilst being able to touch the audience through powerful writing about these topics, the writers did not forget to give the audience large servings of humour. And it was not strained or predictable humour either but real and wholesome, bringing laughter from the stomach – relatable and nostalgic.
Costumes and Props:
The poet and filmmaker Caleb Femi performed a poem prior to the performance on the night, entitled “Coconut Oil” – a poem exploring the changing social landscape of a city. A line from the poem says;
“Although there are many, one of the glories of a person is their hair, one of the glories of a town is its heirs”
In the case of Hatch, one of it’s (many) glories on the night was it’s self presentation through props, sound, light and costume. Though scattered and minimal, at first glance, you quickly understand why things have been placed where they have. You realise each object has a meaning rooted in the themes and motivations of the play. Whilst the cast communicated to the audience through words and movements, static objects also screamed loudly despite their silence and inability to move without direct interaction with a cast member. The choice and use of props were thoughtful and strategic, helping to present thought provoking ideas.
Without giving too much away keep a look out for: Afro combs, baby shoes, a Malcolm X sticker, traditional cloth, grapes, a radio announcement and a moment where the outside comes in.
TYPT is Talawa Theatre Company’s flagship programme for emerging theatre makers, aged 18-25. It is a unique collaboration between experienced practitioners and artists at the beginning of their careers to create a brand new show in just 4 weeks. Talawa is the UK’s primary Black led touring theatre company. Talawa’s work is informed by the wealth and diversity of the Black British experience, through which they create outstanding work by cultivating the best in emerging and established Black artists.
The work of Talawa means that they were able to attract talented writers, cast members, production managers and assistants to bring together an edge of the seat, riveting play that lingers in the body and mind days after.
Their work and collaborations never fail to walk straight into the crossfire of the social and political minefield, extract the bodies of the wounded and raise them up positively and inspiringly. Prior to experiencing Hatch, an audience member may not realise that they too were affected in some way by the themes this sensitive (and at times uncomfortable) play deals with. Through interaction with the unstoppable life force that is Talawa’s writers and cast, an audience member leaves their space feeling slightly lighter, having had the chance to be understood without asking to be.
They leave feeling challenged and inspired but most importantly, ready for change.
Hatch is showing at 7.00pm at the Hackney Showroom for it’s final night.