The Sensemaker

Beethoven’s Ode to Joy is anything but that when played ad nauseam on a loop while you are kept on hold by a robotic voice saying, “All our operators are currently busy. Please wait”.

a remarkable piece of absurdist exposition in movement, mime and word

The immediate appeal of The Sensemaker is that it taps into an immediately identifiable experience that everyone has had. Reassurances that my ‘request is being processed’ are of little comfort. “Where? When? By whom and for how long?” I cry. These are all questions that must be going through the mind of choreographer Elsa Couvreur as she moves and dances her way through the dehumanising wait.

Her situation does not improve. The voice on the end of the line makes increasingly personal and intimate requests of her that she must fulfil if she wants to advance further up the queue. Trapped in the system of clapping her hands in answer to tick-box questions she succumbs to jumping through ever more demanding hoops; trapped in the system; programmed to do as the voice suggests. The choice is to give in, accept that bureaucracy has the upper hand and comply or lose at the very least you place in the line and at worst find your request declined altogether.

Her frustrations, compliance and ultimate submission are demonstrated in tightly choreographed sequences that make use of interpretive gestures and repeated motifs in line with the broadcast messages. She becomes as robotic as the voice she hears, controlled by external powers, while retaining elegant lines of movement and at times comedic step patterns. It’s a remarkable piece of absurdist exposition in movement, mime and word.

The Sensemaker comes courtesy of Woman’s Move at the Rialto Theatre as part of the Brighton Fringe and is a tribute to the breadth of programming to be found there. It’s won awards at Fringes in Edinburgh, Gothenburg and Stockholm and is no doubt well-placed for further recognition as an outstanding piece of performance art.

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The Blurb

Have you ever waited on the phone for way too long, with a repetitive Muzak playing on a loop and an irritating robotic voice telling you endlessly that your request is being processed? This dystopian battle between a woman and an answering machine questions the effects of new technologies on our lives, as well as the laborious administrative procedures of our bureaucratic systems. FringeReview Award for Outstanding Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Buzz Award, Gothenburg Fringe Festival 2019 Stoff X Award, Theatre and Spoken Word Category 2019

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