Over 750 people came to experience the installation and performance of “Fragments of Dark” at Blists Hill as part of the ‘Ghostly Gaslight Night’ Halloween celebration.Arty Party artists worked alongside the Arty Party performance group members to create sound-scapes, dramatic shadows, and eerie performances. Old keys, bones and strange medical implements swung as if by magic from the ceiling; leaves, twigs and blown in detritus covered the floor. A strange mobile, made as if by children, created eerie and moving patterns across the far corner of the hut. The old bb hut in Blists Hill village was transformed into a place of shadows.
The hut was an atmospheric and very narrow place to experience theatre, with often only inches between the single file of audience and the mesmerising performers. The haunting sound-scape created by Sound Artist Nick Parkin, alongside the words and whispers of the performance group, added richly to the experience. Co-directors Ray Jacobs and Nick Parkin referenced influences such as film directors The Brothers Quay and of writers such as Edgar Alan Poe and Dante Rossetti.
The ten performers repeated simple and surreal actions: the slow and menacing sweeping of a broom, a lover’s hand slowly following the contours of another’s face, another performer’s eyes transfixed as he slowly reflected light from the mirror he held, across the hut’s wooden ceiling.
The performance group also enacted short dark scenes from gothic horror stories. In one story disembodied hands tapping rhythmically upon a box, scuttled away as Death made three loud knocks with his staff on the floor. A young female performer dressed in white slowly transformed into a withering old lady, eventually blown down by the insistent influence of Death’s repeated ‘three knocks’.
In another story the continual slow pacing across the room by a lady in black brought terror for five performers pinned against the wall. The performers suffered from different terrifying delusions each time she slowly swept past: fear of ageing, fear of heights, fear of spiders, until eventually the performers (like some of the audience) were literally petrified.
The combination of skilful transformative performance and eerie, powerful set design and lighting made Fragments of Dark a truly remarkable and thought provoking experience.
Performers; Alison Picknell, Dean Warburton, Graham Busby, Nathan Campbell, Rebecca Smith,
Sean Nightingale, Stacey Smith, Mervyn Bradley, Sam Rogers, Zoe Robinson
Co – directors; Ray Jacobs, Nick Parkin
Set Design; Wren Miller
Lighting design and stage management; Jonathan Tritton