‘I feel like my normal is different to yours.’
A cosmos of thoughts, memories, feelings. After All This is a thoughtful reflective ballad on the theatricals of young living and identity, devised and performed by Ovalhouse Drama Company. With its propensity for melancholy yet youthful fervour and guilelessness, its also a stand for peace, hope and diversity.
We have several characters using verbatim speech, direct address, lecture, video, hyperlines and movement to chart the diverse paths that have all converged at the Ovalhouse. A young man ruminates on the till etiquette at Lidl (we have all been there) sitting atop a roof somewhere in London as if an angel from Wings of Desire. Two cousins make do with a dinner of biscuits and each other’s company for Xmas Day, young girls fix their make up in the toilets whilst exchanging back chat about the men they are sleeping with- are they are over sexualised- and by whom, is the question on our lips? A young man living in Holland suffers racial abuse post 9/11 and after a brief time living in Pakistan and attending a madrasa, struggles to find himself until he discovers acting. Other stories bring together the piece’s preoccupations with Eugenics, identity, social and religious pressures. The play is all about adults and their invisible power, although not one steps on stage. It is also about the vagaries of perception and innocence, the clash between bodies, minds and technologies.
But each story finds a flicker of hope. And all of the tales come together in a mosaic of understanding, acceptance and desire for identity and change. Although brief, the varied scenes make us care for the characters. And all the stories have London at their core. We can smell it, hear it and feel it- it is the canvas- perhaps the only canvas? that the work can be played out against. We are reminded, once again, of the multiculturally embracing city London actually is- and the timing could not be more apt.
It’s a lyrical symphonic piece. But it’s not just a youthful lament. These young people understand the power art and theatre can have. It allows them to have a voice and test things out in a safe laboratory. It teaches and helps them to find themselves. That’s why the biggest message of the piece is about the importance of theatre and its ability to contribute to the health of a community. And judging by the smiling faces of the performers, these young people know it.
After All This was presented at Ovalhouse by Ovalhouse Drama Company with The Truth About Youth and The Co-operative Foundation.
director- Phil McCormack
writer- Theo Scholefield (with additional material devised by the company)
Facilitator – Naomi Shoba
Designer – Hannah Wolfe
Movement Director – Ella Donaldson
Assistant – Sam Hafez
Stage Manager – Emily Ida
Producer – Maeve O’Neill
Devised and performed by the Company
Celeste Harper Davis
Christina Kyomi Evelyn Brown
Drama Company was established 5 years ago by Ovalhouse in association with The Co-operative Foundation as part of the Truth About Youth programme. The project brings together diverse group of young people and provides a platform for a high performance standard. Supporting Drama Company is a team of professional arts practitioners a director, facilitator, producer, designer and stage manager. This team is assisted by two Ovalhouse Young Associates who are young arts leaders in training on a yearlong leadership programme that Ovalhouse delivers to provide hands on arts experience and mentorship for young people entering the creative industries. Past participants have gone on to professional film, theatre and television work, drama school, university and to setting up their own creative companies.
see Ovalhouse for more information