By Emma Campbell
“Well that made me smile, and there hasn’t been anything much to smile about these days” one of the many phrases to describe the random acts of art brought to the housing estates of Bodmin by IntoBodmin and delivered beautifully by the awesome Prodigal UPG on Sunday 18th April.
Many people have lost so much during lockdown, but I think what many of us realised from the sheer joy this incredible project injected into us was one of our greatest losses has been one of joy, connection and creativity that was delivered to us in abundance by this beautiful display throughout the day.
It is difficult to describe in words the powerful movement art brings into our everyday lives. Often overlooked and forgotten as an essential part of our being and yet the stark reminder of how joyless lives have been for many of us. After a long 12 months of being deprived of any live performance these acts will hopefully give us a far greater appreciation for all artists and the aliveness, they bring to our communities moving forward.
The dancing itself, beautifully delivered and mesmerizing and the energy projected and shared drew people from their homes and saw neighbors reconnecting in a way that for many has been missing for a long 12 months. The general buzz and enthusiasm of the audie
nce was both palpable and contagious creating memories and moments that will etched in all our souls to be replayed as a time of greatness forever.
This piece, classic, elegant, and old school took the audience on a historical journey and demonstrated a time that my ‘working class brain’ imagines to be a time of how the more prosperous would dress and experience life. We know extraordinarily little of true working-class history as rather as now the working-class experience remains rather unrepresented from the perspective of those really living the experience largely in text and from history books, leaving us all with only rather judgmental assumptions of how the other lives. Do not worry, no one judges the working classes and the poor any harder than we frequently judge ourselves.
For me, one of the biggest judgements I placed on myself for years was that art of this caliber is not for the enjoyment of people like us, almost a feeling of being unworthy of beautiful moments and once again I found myself making an unfounded judgement that these artists bringing this type of alien art to the land of the forgotten might risk them being jibbed or scorned. Of course, these artists knocked that theory right out of the window as they danced and gathered admirers across even those who have been labelled by society as ‘unreachable’.
I think what they may or may never be aware of was the gratitude from all of us for sharing their talent with us, for bringing us joy, connection and transporting us to forgotten times allowing all our minds to create and interpret our individual versions of what they were portraying.
A group of artists who performed with their souls for those of us feeling unworthy of seeing it, participating in it, and enjoying it is a far more powerful act than would ever be possible to recapitulate in words and yet that is the power of what they brought.
Through these random acts we learned the power of the artists to reach the ‘unreachable’ to touch the souls, to inspire and bring joy and when that joy is shared with those whose eyes and ears are frequently deprived from such visions, it cannot be said that this was just a beautifully, classic performance and piece of art. It was a movement, demonstrating that the art does not belong to one social class above another. Art has no boundaries and is one of the most powerful tools we have remaining in society to bring about collectivity and challenge all the social boundaries we have created from years of social indoctrination that we as humans are in some way different from one another and that is one of the most beautiful and powerful lessons I will ever be fortunate enough to be present for in my lifetime.
So once again thankyou IntoBodmin, thank you Prodigal UPG please do not ever underestimate the power, you have as artists to inject new life into communities, to bring people together in such an incredible way. I have a feeling your services will be instrumental in the coming months as we seek to rebuild, reconnect, and regroup from the many horrors and trauma we have encountered over the past 12 months.
Prodigal UPG is multiple Award Winning physical theatre & performance-parkour company based in Par. prodigalupg.com