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Doppelgangster's "COLD WAR" SHU Review

"COLD WAR"; a brilliantly fitting title for the invigorating experimental piece, Doppelgangster's newest eco-aware performance project.
If you don't know Doppelgangster, you are surely out of the performance art circuit. Doppelgangster is a two man force of nature compromising of the commanding and zealous Tobias Manderson-Galvin (a native Aussie) and Dr Tom Payne, a witty and charismatic man with a voice as soft as the ocean's waves.
The pair have a lot of great chemistry, something you can tell as soon as you see them interact. They even each other out perfectly and these guys know that climate change is no joke. The aim of their projects... to confront and challenge the world's environmental issues, and to quote them: "[...] the show is like whatever the opposite of a car chase is."
The performance immediately radiated with seriousness as I stepped down into the dark performance space and reached out to touch my seat on the first row. The only light coming from the corner of the room where both of the performers stood, warmly lit with hues of green and pink lights, facing us as we entered. It wasn't an invasive feeling, more of an awareness, they were patiently waiting, as were we. Was this a metaphor in itself? You come to question everything an artist does in an experimental performance piece.
I picked up on a lot of references that both of the cultivated performers mentioned and I think that was the most important part of the performance; to know exactly what they were talking about, understanding each individual thought on it and changing the meaning of what we once thought, challenging our conceptions. References such as conspiracy theories ( a nod to the farce in one of their written songs; "Titanic was an inside job"), ISIS beheading videos, starving polar bears, etc. Things that myself and other children of the internet would immediately click with knowing. One person I spoke to said the songs spoke to him as a Brechtian-style influence.
A particular moment that stuck in my mind was from Dr Payne in which he mentioned that a beheading video he saw online stuck with him because he and the victim both shared similarities aesthetically. I think this is a very important point. Do we only truly care about the tragedies and issues that we can relate to? I'm thinking now that this may have been a hidden reference to the recent Notre Dame incident where French billionaires pledged their fortunes to save the historically rich Western architecture. Yet, where is this generosity and kindness with many other horrific tragedies happening all around the world?
Their stream of consciousness dialogue with quick-fire exchanges keep audiences attentions on their message. When one performer went on to mention something reflecting a very interesting idea he was interrupted by the other's memory of a personal story, symbolising that right now in our political climate it's hard to know who to listen to.
We were handed a piece of ice to hold, many would think a symbol of the melting ice caps. I noticed a lot of people put their ice on the floor, something I knew would be a rookie error if you wanted to truly understand and be open to the performance's communication that climate change is everyone's responsibility. As it numbed my hands and my jeans began to soak, I thought: "These guys are geniuses".
I thought they perfectly handled the audience, alienating with structured bits of live and originally written/adapted song with on stage costume changes. Yet, made sure that they were never being intrusive or patronising, instead bringing together the contemporary issues and making them, in a lot of ways, more relatable. Gently saying we should be reminding ourselves of said issues and firmly reinforcing that we need to take responsibility with tactics like giving us cubes of ice to hold.
To say I don't see a lot of this style of theatre, I really enjoyed what I saw and would like to see more in the future. The musical score was fabulous and complimented the piece so well. (Thanks Jules Pascoe!) And I cannot wait to hear the reviews when they take this to the Prague Fringe Festival in late May 2019. Best of luck to you!
Media enquiries: Tom Payne on mobile 07875 708 575 or email
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Infinite Nothing's Theatre: From The Heart.

The first audio/visual installation by Infinite Nothing’s Theatre, From The Heart, was held in the Sheffield Institute of Arts on Tuesday 26th March. The installation exhibited work from five local artists who were given the challenge to create a piece of work in response to a Shakespeare sonnet of their choice. The artists included; Sarah Rose, Shaun Standrin, Zoe Cope, Ellie Massey and myself. This installation follows a successful 2-date performance of Bloodlines: Macbeth which was held at the Performance Lab in Sheffield last month.

A variety of work was shown during From The Heart, including a short performance of Act 1 Scene 5 from Romeo & Juliet; performed by Infinite Nothing’s co-founder Elisabeth Marriott and Sheffield Hallam’s final year performance student Jack Hallam. Performance Practice student and Bloodlines: Macbeth director Zoe Cope performed a durational piece of live art for the installation. During the installation Zoe created a flower using clay over the course of the installation inspired by Sonnet 60.

Sheffield based bookmaker, embroiderer and visual communicator Ellie Massey exhibited six hand-made embroidery piece’s inspired by Sonnet 148 while Blue Alien’s Sarah Rose presented a piece of digital art inspired by Sonnet 64. All the work included was received with a warm response. 

I exhibited an installation titled No More Dying, consisting of a 3-minute short film and 42 photographs. I was invited to exhibit for From The Heart last summer and began to look through Shakespeare’s sonnets and find one that stood out to me in particular. As a contemporary actor/artist, I have avoided the works of Shakespeare due to the fact that I often find it difficult to decipher and/or speak the language. Working on From The Heart allowed me to interpret Shakespeare’s work through the lens of my practice, engaging with the work in a way I haven’t before. I decided to select Sonnet 146; struck with the instant negativity within the first two words. How ‘Poor Soul’ is followed by Shakespeare’s questions about materialism and priority whilst arguing that we all may die the same way whilst living completely differently. I was instantly struck by the mental image of an angel transitioning to the afterlife. How the decisions that made her happy during life could taint her death. This is where No More Dying began.

I stayed very close to my initial idea and decided to creatively communicate the different states of life and death through the use of signifiers. Within the narrative of the short film, the angel surrounds herself with riches and takes part in debauches acts in order to validate herself. However, death begins to claim her, stripping her of all materialistic dependencies until she is reduced to just her soul like everybody else. Myself and Zoe Cope began the photography and videography for the project in September 2018. For the photography aspect of the project, I was keen to create a set of photographs which, once laid out, could enable the audience to take unique responses to the work. Once the photographs had arrived, myself and Zoe spent hours re-arranging the photographs so that each row, column and diagonal had a narrative.

On the day of From The Heart, we spent the afternoon setting up for a 4pm start. I had a few technical difficulties with the big screen in the venue, but this was resolved fairly quickly. Excited to debut my work, I was constantly nit-picking at the photographs on the table just to make sure it looked exactly how I wanted! I was extremely happy with how the installation went, especially as it was Infinite Nothing’s first of this kind, and was also very pleased with how No More Dying was received by its audience.

I look forward to working with Infinite Nothings Theatre again in the future and look forward to continuing my MA, but most of all I’m excited to continue creating more my own work! To see more of my work find me on Instagram ‘@_barkby’.


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Working as a writer on the show

I have heard the sentence before that writers are the worst procrastinators, but working on this show was nowhere near this statement as writers and performers worked this week from 10-4 pm each day to produce this show.
What we did in this…

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AWAKENINGS post 2: Final Poster

Here is the final poster design for the 2021 play AWAKENINGS. This design is based on the feedback provided, which was to bring a focus to the process of making and coming together for the experience of the production rather than the narrative of…

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Excerpt of my journey as a writer

I am a writer who has stolen many moments of someone's else life and mine too and had turned them into stories.

But my story does not start from here. It started when I was nine years old. I wrote a mini-novel of three chapters in a diary.…

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