Misri Dey: Family Tree
Last week we headed to The Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA) once again, this time to watch Misri Dey’s new scratch show ‘Family Tree’.
AMATA is an incredible venue that hosts a wide variety of events all year round. AMATA celebrates various art forms and presents work in all different stages of creation. You can view AMATA’s list of upcoming events here!
Misri Dey is a trained international theatre practitioner, now working as a Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Acting at Falmouth University, who has performed professionally in the UK, USA, and Europe. Since 2003, she has been creating solo work that explores diasporic identities for live theatre and radio. Arts participation and activism is also an important element to Misri’s work; she has worked with many youth and community organisations to broaden audiences of live performance and advocate for the importance of arts participation.
She was awarded a PhD in 2015, titled Solo Devised Performance: A Practitioner’s Enquiry, and has subsequently published several journal articles. Her book, ‘Making Solo Performance’ will be published in June 2018 with Palgrave Macmillan.
On Wednesday, we saw Misri Dey’s scratch performance Family Tree. This scratch has been a part of Misri’s devising phase; where she can test, experiment and play with new ideas with live audiences and the feedback received will further the creative development.
Family Tree invited us on a personal journey; where we are encouraged to reconsider how we understand family and evaluate the notion of identity. Misri invited us to step back in time, as we looked through her family tree; exploring different personal pathways, histories and memories – seeing how each one has shaped the here and now. Family Tree investigates and challenges our perceptions of territory, identities, migration and belonging; through intimate stories of the ‘brown, black and white people jostling for space within one family’.
Through projected images, recorded audio and song, we followed several poignant stories of people of the past and present. It was incredibly touching, to see real faces, to hear real stories from people all connected to the woman standing before us.
© Charlie Raymond Kent / © Mayn Creative
The show is a beautiful merge of cross-disciplinary performance; Misri blends spoken word, song, sounds, movement and dance to highlight the interplay between the personal and the political themes she was presenting, all with great importance, integrity and respect. Family Tree is jam-packed with wit and humour interwoven with powerful moments of hard-hitting emotion and truth. The set although simple was extremely effective; through the use of repetition and creating clear pathways the audience was able to keep up with the complexity of the show.
© Dom Moore / © Beyond Face
There was such a fluctuation of feeling throughout the performance, one minute I felt immersed in the past, reflecting upon my own history, then completely joyful and amused; laughing as I saw Misri magically transform a lifeless broom covered in brown fabric into a live horse trotting about the stage. Something that is extremely clever is how Misri uses her undeniable musical talent to frame and keep the flow of the performance. We see Misri layer sounds, songs and text with a loop pedal. Transforming herself into different people, instruments to create different soundscapes which build and reflect the emotions/themes that are being explored.
Another of my favourite aspects of Dey’s Family Tree was the recurring use of Bella Ciao, a song that speaks of resistance and freedom. This song arose in different forms and fashions within the performance, each time eliciting a different emotion and connection with the audience. Misri with guitar in hand sang to the audience and we willingly sang along with her – creating a moment of shared musical magic.
© Dom Moore / © Beyond Face
What is clear to me, is that this scratch performance, not only looks at and reflects on the old, and what we can learn from it, but also on the new and the now. Encouraging us to look within ourselves, challenge our own perceptions and assess what progress can be made. The performance ended in what can only be explained as a celebration. I was invited on stage with several audience members to dance and rejoice with Misri to the final rendition of Bella Ciao.
It’s safe to say I felt extremely joyful and uplifted when leaving this performance as well as reflective and thoughtful. I look forward to seeing how this work develops in the future and to explore Misri Dey’s Family Tree once more.
AMATA is a professional venue that hosts a year-round performance programme attracting top artists and performers from all over the world. Recent seasons have seen sell-out shows from leading companies such as Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, Wardrobe Ensemble, Belarus Free Theatre, Forced Entertainment and many more!