When we close our eyes, what do we see? Theatre Re propose that closing our eyes makes it ‘seem that everything becomes possible’. In their beautifully crafted Blind Man’s Song, narrated wordlessly with physical theatre and dance, the blind protagonist conjures an epic love story through his music – either from memory or imagination.
The piece is beautifully constructed through the technical skill and restraint of performers Guillaume Pigé and Selma Roth, and the moving live solo-symphony from Alex Judd. The storyline relies on tropes about living without sight: the protagonist’s tale of romance juxtaposes his apparent bitter solitude, moving from bed to piano in a single room, a prime example of the amplification of the idea of the blind person’s ‘dark isolation’ into the archetype of the blind musical savant, only able to live through his talent. How can we expand our representations of blind people beyond the super-auditory ‘supercrip’, the black-glasses pianist?
The piece creates sensations for the audience intended to conjure some aspects of the experience of blindness. Sounds from the moving set or scraping walking-stick are looped and repeated beyond the visual stimuli, creating a sensory dissonance. Darkness and haze abound. This aesthetic begs the politic: how do those of us who can see mythologise the experience of blindness? And how might we allow for such issues around representation in the face of pieces such as Blind Man's Song, the skill and aesthetic of which casts a spell of such undeniable affect and intensity. (HM)
BLIND MAN’S SONG, Theatre Re, until August 30th, Pleasance Dome, King Dome. Wheelchair Access, Level Access, Hearing Loop available.
More on Theatre Re:
TED talks on assistive technology for blind people:
Theatre Re’s dance practice hails from the work of
and Complicite – whose The Enounter is at Edinburgh International Festival
Comic Jamie Macdonald, at EdFringe this year, on life as a blind person