After attending a workshop in the morning, I was energised and excited to be going off to see my first performance of the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2019. With the publicity shots from Life – A Mudpie having pride of place on the posters for the Gathering as a whole, I was thrilled to be kicking off the week with such a lively, vibrant, and raw piece of Theatre for Young Audiences. The production company, 10 Fingur from Iceland, certainly didn’t disappoint and provided a show filled with love, laughter, and of course, mud.
I should start by describing the stage. As you walk into the Theatre, you see a blank canvas: a tarp providing a backdrop for the play, and a white square on the floor providing the stage. Next to the stage are bags of soil and watering cans. As the younger members of the audience walked in, their curiosity was clear. Before the show began, a myriad of questions from the first two rows of young people were riddled with “how’s”, “why’s”, and “what’s”.
Life: A Mudpie is a nonverbal production and begins with a series of shadows behind the curtain. Our Actors explore space and the limits of their physicalities against the blank tarp. Eventually, the Actors move in front of the curtain where we meet our characters. They showcase their competitive nature by stretching the boundaries of space between the stage, the soundscape, and themselves. This playful energy is reminiscent of free play at school recess or break time and it quickly moves onto the characters’ discovery of the bags of soil…
What happens next is something unheard of in conventional Theatre spaces. The stage becomes a mud, water, and dirt free-for-all. The actors completely envelop themselves in mud; thus, they became our living mudpies.
I was in awe of the childlike wonder exhibited by the performers, the use of unconventional materials on a Theatre for Young Audiences stage, and the connection the performers maintained with the audience through the nonverbal piece. Life: A Mudpie is a piece that entertains and tickles families all over and was a delight at the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2019.