Last night York Theatre Royal showcased the talents of this year’s Graduate Prize winners: Rich Wade and Jamhed Theatre (Adam Ekin and Joel Dean) with an evening celebrating the perplexing talent of these three local artists. The prize represents a commitment to assisting creative individuals in the post-graduation transition to professional arts practice from both the Theatre and the University and is presented to a final year student or group of students studying Theatre at York St John University.
The evening was presented in two halves, the first hosted Jamhed Theatre’s Adam Ekin and Joel Dean with their performance of ‘Journey to Karawane’.
The artists, of their own admission, rebel against conformity, reason, normality and ordinary and so set in an enchanted forest, the pair explore the relationship between beauty and the void. A concoction of sketches the performance delivered humour and absurdity to the audience whilst paying homage to some of their greatest inspirations, including references to Viv Stanshall, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Audrey Hepburn.
The audience are taken horseback riding through a disjointed narrative as we begin to see the world through their surrealist lens, the title itself ‘A Journey to Karawane’ refers to Dadaist practitioner, Hugo Ball, who wrote a verse without words and titled it Karawane.
Although enticing and humorous throughout there were small moments of solemn clarity where we see a real struggle of power and identity as we are asked the lingering question “What’s the point in it all?”
Next to take the stage is the wonderfully talented Rich Wade, with his retelling of the classic love story Tristan and Yesult.
‘Letters of Yseult’ is a beautifully crafted piece of storytelling told through the eyes of tragic legend Tristan. The performance uses a combination of dance, poetry, song and escapology to create a layer or rich textures, which are not only playful but also extremely moving in parts. In this one-man show Wade narrates Tristan’s journey through war, heartbreak and eventual betrayal using live music throughout the piece as a tool to guide his audience through Tristan’s experiences rendering fluctuating emotion. There is a beautiful organic feel in the work produced by Wade, who has a young, emerging artist already seems to have a real cultivated grasp of his craft.
Both the performances showcased, although extremely polarised in terms of narrative tools and structure, compliment each other exceptionally as their quest for beauty runs deeps throughout. The aesthetic quality of work produced by these three young performers is an exciting extension of York’s contemporary creatives was both performances display real potential as future players in the industry.