For the last five years, I’ve been dealing with some questions in my research around the coding of queer aesthetics. I observed a ‘style’ emerging in the UK performance scene around softness, slippages and permeability, and while I respect and resonate with a lot of this, I was feeling increasing discomfort around the idea of ‘a singular queer aesthetic’. What if one relates to something other than this, for example, brittle hardness, or clashing… so I started opening a space for queer textures that I wasn’t experiencing.
Soon after this, mid-pandemic, I took an introductory course in welding. All of the performers learnt how to weld at the beginning of the project; we connected in our first instance through learning this quite wild skill. I think this connection between us lives through the rehearsal process and into the performance, the context of the welding workshop holding a space for us to question and relate. It’s a very charismatic, playful group, there’s a kind of rebelliousness I find electric.
There are many connections that could be made between the theatricality of welding and the performance of codes. The large steel structure used on stage (designed and fabricated at H.S. Designs Studio) is 5 x 2.5 metres and set on platforms with intricate steel cross bars underneath. It’s a very special element in the work. It allows for all this danger and drama to exist in relation to an audience and works symbolically with ideas of a steamy booth/secluded inner world/ thriller room/ portal to a scene/ theatrical device of revealing. There are heavy steel doors on the front that allow for a cinematic trope to take place –the slow creaky door, the slow reveal, each performer being spat out, meeting the space finally, or going back inside. The gateway to this internal world of people working together and being witnessed. There’s something withholding, in a sexy way.