We asked some of The Lowry’s wider staff to come and try out their first WTF Wednesday to ask them whether asking ‘W T actual F’ was a bad thing!
WTF Wednesdays are a series of evenings for the compulsively curious featuring frontrunners from the frontiers of contemporary theatre-making. What’s more – the performances are completely Pay What You Decide – audiences pay at the end of the show, giving what they feel the show is worth. WTF Wednesdays are presented in association with Word of Warning.
On Wed 27 September they attended ‘Alba’ by Jo Bannon. Here’s what Ruby (Studio Supervisor), Bethany (Galleries Interpreter), Zoe (Ticket Sales Agent) and Eloise Bonney (Catering Assistant) thought…
Zoe Charleson, Lowry Ticket Sales Agent
Being someone who doesn’t normally attend contemporary Theatre; I am glad I went to see this show. ‘Alba’ left me feeling intrigued, mindful and most of all asking ‘what did it all mean and why?’
I like to think that’s how ‘WTF Wednesday’ should make you feel and what’s wrong with being left feeling inquisitive and confused?
I like to know the meaning of theatre and why it takes place yet Alba took me on a journey of somebody’s life that I had little or nothing in common with and I quite enjoyed the sense of the unknown.
The performance was portrayed through the use of light, sound, objects, reality and most of all colour. Colour made a bold statement throughout the piece and was cleverly used to convey Alba’s feelings, thoughts and general outlook on life. As a viewer I tend to look for the meanings behind most things but Alba let me relax and enjoy the cleverly put together biographical piece.
When I think of ‘contemporary theatre’ I don’t normally expect to feel a range of emotions, yet ‘Alba’ gave me feelings of happiness, guilt, laugher and intrigue but most of all I stopped questioning contemporary theatre and just enjoyed the ride – and ‘Alba’ was a ride I’d love to go on again.
Eloise Bonney, Catering
With complexity and simplicity working side by side, Jo Bannon’s ‘Alba’ was visually stunning, and surprisingly so. Jo made a sandwich; a cheese and crisp sandwich, she ironed her sheets, she dried her wet hair. Through calm, precise everyday chores I was drawn into watching the beautiful patterns from such daily mundane actions. After I stopped searching for an obvious storyline and just relaxed into watching what was before me, these movements moved me and the rest of the audience, through humour, recognition of myself in Jo, and also moments unfamiliar yet intriguing to us.
Albinism isn’t something I know much about, and I wouldn’t say that I know much more now. The story is open for interpretation with very little dialogue and a narrative that isn’t given to the audience on a plate. Her mother’s voice ringing over the audience was a comforting jolt to a reality we all know, and gave an insight to significant moments of her journey. There’s something deeply heart-warming about hearing a mother retell a childhood memory of their offspring, we can hear the corners of their lips lift into a smile and their eyes crinkle into a laugh.
However, this time that warm fuzzy feeling was unsettled by an underlying concern that Jo didn’t remember these memories with the same fondness. Maybe these moments weren’t the humorous or gentle life-lessons first impressions would have us believe.
Ruby Runnalls-Palmer, Studio Supervisor
A small, dark studio. A quiet, expectant crowd. An odd, lumpen shape covered in a large, white cloth in the centre of the stage. Is it moving slightly? Slowly we realise that the cloth covers a body, and that artist Jo Bannon has been here all along. What literally unfolds in front of us is a portrayal of visual impairment with a gentle slapstick undertone. Our interpretation at this point depends on what we already know of Jo and her show.
We are faced with the protagonist, and over the course of the next half an hour, we get to know her through audio recordings of her Irish mother, referring euphemistically but affectionately to Bannon’s difference. You see a woman carry out banal domestic tasks with reverence and panache. The atmosphere is ethereal, the use of colour and light is spectacular, and all the while we are carried along with humour and nostalgia. By treating the ordinary as extraordinary, Jo Bannon reverses attitudes to her distinctive appearance, normalising a condition that she and her mother certainly see the funny side of.