And so, to a piece which has long been on my “to see” list but which has kept getting bumped as a whole host of other stuff claimed my attention. As Meet Me At The Edge is a filmed account of an initially intended theatrical piece there hasn’t been quite the urgency that some other titles have had. And now that summer has finally arrived (in mid-September!) it seems like an ideal time to be visiting Cornwall for this meditative and reflective piece which dwells on the twin themes of isolation and connectedness.
It comes from Wildworks Theatre, a Cornish company who specialise in site-specific experiences and artworks in unusual locations. And although this piece was originally intended as a live event in 2020, the pandemic meant a shift to film was required in order to keep the idea alive. It has emerged as a visual and aural collage telling the tales of a number of real local people who have travelled to the edge of their own existences and have found new ways to survive. People such as a mother who has a Downs syndrome child, a climate protestor finding herself on the wrong side of the law, a recently widowed woman who copes by working on an allotment with her sister, a black woman reflecting on what the death of George Floyd means to her. Perhaps most telling is the deaf person who cannot understand the government’s corona virus briefings because of their failure to provide live signing at the news conferences – apparently we’re in a global minority on that one.
This is not an error that Wildworks make themselves as they use something called creative captioning where the words being spoken form mesmerising swirling patterns on the screen as an integral part of the experience. Indeed, it is evident that the visual dimension plays as much of a part in the finished product as the carefully curated script from Mercedes Kemp. The initial section and the ending both make full use of the picturesque cliffs at Botallack which were supposed to be the original setting for the live event. This oozes rugged grandeur and a timeless quality in keeping with the themes. Aerial drone shots of the sea introduce a mesmeric rhythmic quality to the unfolding story and the words take on a poetically repetitive strain. This is something which pertains throughout as one narrative elides subtly into the next and a new perspective carries the audience forward. All of this is supported by some haunting underscoring and the occasional musical number with some gorgeous vocal work from the Tuesday Night Fun Club Choir – viewer tip: let the credits and the post credits sequence roll while you shut your eyes and luxuriate in the haunting sounds.
The company themselves describe the end result as a mosaic and that’s an apt description – small fragments which while they prove interesting as individual pieces add up to something more substantial in forming an overall picture. This is one of human resilience, forbearance and fortitude. Meet Me At The Edge is a mesmeric 45 minutes about humanity, beautifully filmed and making use of some timeless scenery. As someone who has had the great good fortune to perform twice at the stunning venue of the Minack near Land’s End I can attest that Cornwall is an ideally wild location for this sort of artwork – wish I was there right now!
Today’s bonus Scenes For Survival piece is also elegiac in tone. In Getting Close by Kathy McKean a woman in lockdown reflects on a past lover and how the current situation has enforced a separation onto so many. Nicole Cooper’s performance largely consists of staring mournfully out of a window while her voiceover tells the real story. It is rather too brief to get into its stride
Meet Me At the Edge is available on You Tube – click here
Scenes For Survival pieces are available from the NTS website – click here; a number are also available on BBC iPlayer – click here
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