A few of us from the Canon Hill Collective had the privilege to attend the most recent performance by The Paper Birds (see trailer above). As we all shared this experience we decided to amalgamate our blogs into 3 short reviews of the night … enjoy!!!
Blind invited us into the mind and world of the incredibly, bafflingly talented Grace Savage. She can beatbox (UK champ), she can sing, she can act and she can definitely make powerful theatre. We were guided through the influential and decisive moments and relationships that have come to form and define the 25 year old woman that Savage has become. This was done through some times hilarious, some times dark and some times moving story telling, beatboxing, shadow puppetry and music produced live that utilised her vast range of sounds. We were even treated to a quick beatboxing lesson. I was captivated for the jam packed hour. Things explored included Savage’s obsession with imitation, unconventional motherly advice, the influence of the media on young people and the sexism that Savage has had to contend with in her line of work. A wildly entertaining and honest show. Savage and members of the company that devised and produced the show, The Paper Birds graduated from my course at the University of Leeds before I arrived. There’s hope for me yet.
Blind by The Paper Birds theatre company is one of those productions that reminds me why I am interested in theatre in the first place. Performed by Grace Savage, Blind explores the influences throughout her life that have led her to be the person she is today: an actress, singer and two-time UK Champion beat boxer. A gripping, moving and brutally honest piece, we were taken through important influences in her life such as her mother’s unconventional advice, what she hears on the news growing up, as well as more emotionally gripping stories of violence. There was also an educational element to the performance, as Grace explained a brief history of beat-boxing and even gave us our own beat-boxing lesson which was both entertaining and amusing. A range of different performance techniques were used effortlessly to keep the audience gripped throughout, from multimedia to physical theatre. Having gone into the performance knowing next to nothing about beat boxing and unsure as to whether I was even interested in the form, I found myself completely transfixed by Grace’s talent for beat boxing, particularly her use of a loop machine to create entire multi-layered songs using just her voice. However, what struck me most was her self-assurance as both a performer and as a person. Seeing some of the sexist and degrading comments she receives on her beat boxing videos and hearing about her response to this had me leaving the performance feeling an immense sense of empowerment. Seeing such a likeable, talented and inspirational performer do exactly what she wants rather than what she feels she should do is a lesson that everyone who sees Blind will surely take away with them.
I had never been to a Paper Bird production before but after going to see Blind – a theatrical piece comprising of mix media, acting, beat boxing, puppetry (to name a few) – I can tell you they have certainly caught my attention. This piece, which was performed by the UK’s top female beat boxer and all round talent Grace Savage, brought more than just music and stories to the table. Grace used all the art forms that were at her disposal to bring us into some of the most vulnerable parts of her life and herself. Through the performance she relived her childhood and her up bringing, her first beat boxing battle and an emotional experience on a train, and we relived it with her. The more she unraveled about her journey made me grasp how hard she has worked to become who she is today and how comfortable she is being herself. As a musician/singer/music maker, for a long time I have not left a performance so inspired with music as an art form. The way Grace Savage used her vocally created sounds to paint pictures, tell stories and disprove stereotypes re-invigorated my passion to do the same, and the fact she is still growing artistically reassures me that as long as I moving forward, I am moving in the right direction.