Show Calendar

ACCA Conversations: Rachel Mars on Our Carnal Hearts

Rachel Mars 1 Crop Min Min

Rachel Mars comes to Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts this Saturday, 21 October, with Our Carnal Hearts

Our Carnal Hearts comes to us hot off a run at Edinburgh Fringe which received rave reviews.

Rachel tells us more…

Our Carnal Hearts is a performance that is a cross between theatre, comedy and singing session and constantly takes you from laughter to dead seriousness. It’s a show about envy, competition and the way we screw eachother over.  Envy is a really taboo subject - so it provides a place to think about the grubbier bits of ourselves and how we can live with them. It puts success and achievement under the microscope. It is performed by me with a four-strong female chorus, who sing a brilliant, beautiful and raucous score composed by Louise Mothersole. We perform it in the round - it’s intimate, funny, and political, and asks questions of the current social climate. 

Inspiration comes from multiple sources. The show began as a thought after the London Riots in 2011, seeing how a reaction to an injustice turned quickly into looting and an accumulation of ‘stuff.’ I was really thinking about the pressures we all have on us to compete, to own things, to look over our shoulders at the next guy. I read a lot of material about the psychology, anthropology and sociology of envy, interviewed marketing experts, advertising lecturers, business people, and friends about their attitudes to envy. I also got very into the Sacred Harp singing tradition, for the sheer joyous un-self-conscious noise it creates.

I wouldn’t call the show a musical. It has almost constant singing going on but not ‘numbers’. I was interested in choirs, the act of singing together and the way that makes us feel brilliant and like a community, but also how that feeling of togetherness can easily be manipulated by people in power. It allows the show to ask questions about communities and individuals. I love the notion of singing the unspeakable, of coming together and being in harmony on issues that are deeply personal and normally experienced alone. Music, and especially the unaccompanied human voice, hits an emotional (and unconscious sometimes) nerve when you hear it. I find it can move me even when I’m not consenting to be moved. I watched a lot of musicals growing up, and that moment when the huge choral number comes in, even if the sentiment is questionable, it is so powerful. It’s hugely seductive, so to experiment with it as a thing both of beauty and to express troubling concepts was very satisfying. 

Audiences are generally entertained, thrilled and slightly prodded - they go away considering all the ways their own envy has had an impact on them and the way they operate in the world. It’s a joyous show, you’ve been singing, you’ve been told stories and by the end you wonder how you are implicated .I hope they’ll have had some time to think about their own relationship to envy. To wrestle with it, reclaim it and not immediately find it shameful. I hope they’ll take away a sense of the complexity of our current attitude to competition. I hope they’ll have laughed at things that are both funny and a bit awful. I think it can be a joyful and cathartic experience. Plus, they’ll learn a great line to use when anyone they know achieves something that makes them feel not entirely delighted.. Plus, audiences will learn a great line to use when anyone they know achieves something that makes them feel not entirely delighted.” 

Tickets include Pay What You Decide and can be purchased here:

ACCA Conversations: Helena Webb, creator of Dad Dancing

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Ahead of their visit we spoke to Helena Webb from South East Dance about Dad Dancing. 

Could anyone ever persuade you to take your dance moves to the stage? 

Meet three brave dads who agreed to dance with their daughters in a new show.  Joined by a supporting cast of fathers, sons and daughters of all ages, they fearlessly slip and slide their way through their similarities and differences, hopes and regrets to a soundtrack including Beethoven, Whitney Houston and Pendulum.

Reclaiming ‘dad dancing’ from the cynics, this dynamic group of performers encourage us all to dance our own dance with joy.

Here’s what Helena said…

  • Where did the idea for Dad Dancing come from?

The idea for Dad Dancing came when Alex, Rosie and I were training at Laban. Our dads would come to see our shows and would be totally bemused. Or, they would conjure up these deep and meaningful narratives from abstract work. So we decided to invite them into the studio so they could see what we actually do! Once we started working with them, we began to think more and more about how often men are riddiculed for their dancing and we wanted to flip that on it’s head and celebrate their moves. 

  • Is it a very personal project?

It is! Try inviting your family to work with you and see if it can be impersonal! It has also become more politically personal for me, I really believe in the ideals of the show; that everyone can dance and that dancing together can transform relationships.

  • How many participants will be performing?

In Brighton we have 22 father-figures, sons and daughters of all ages joining Alex, Rosie and I and our dads on stage. 

  • Have you started rehearsing?

Yes, we actually started working on Dad Dancing in 2012! The re-working for this tour started in July this year though. And workshops with the local cast began in August. 

  • What do you want the audience to take from the performance?

We hope that audience members leave with a real belief in dancing! We imagine their responses to the show will be as varied as the relationships they have to their fathers. It is really important to us that we don’t just tell one story, we hope that everyone hears stories they can relate to in this show.

Dad Dancing will be at ACCA on Friday 27 October at 8pm. Book tickets now. Pay what you decide tickets are available.

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