Have you ever had something you loved so deeply, something that was once a part of you ripped away? How would that feel for you? Devastated? Upset? Distraught? Well in May 2013, the mural, representing the Chartist movement in Newport in 1839 was torn down. This mural represented so much for the people of Newport and no matter how much protesting went on, they knocked it down anyway. Mr & Mrs Clark are now showing the nation what it felt like to them when this happened with their completely thought provoking show, ‘Smash it Up’. Presented at Chapter Arts Centre and then touring the UK.
Mark Ravenhill, (English playwright, actor and journalist) once said,
“Artists should tell the truth- the dirty, dangerous, hilarious, upsetting, disruptive, noisy, beautiful truth.”
This is what Mr & Mrs Clark did. There were no half measures in this performance, they went full out in everything they did. Every movement had been timed and perfected and they were in complete sync with each other. Just like their protest on the whole, they didn’t lose focus one bit. Gareth Clark, was the main speaker throughout this performance and he did a grand job. I was tuned into every word he said and every story he spoke about. He had charisma and confidence which showed through his enthusiasm.
The use of audience interaction was highly commendable as well, getting one member up on stage and giving her the tools to literally smash up items that held significant meaning. It was a clear message that sometimes the things we love can hold us back and that we need to move on. One quote that parallels this that they used was by Jasper Joffe (artist)-
“Not many people would think the solution to their problems would be to sell everything they owned, but it made sense to me. I felt as if I had a big hole in my life and I needed to do something extreme.”
We as a generation are so consumed by materialistic objects that sometimes in life we just need to let go of them and think about what is really important in life.
This was such a clever, inspiring performance that also included the use of media. There were oxymoronic clippings showcasing the destruction of art, thus creating new art. One clipping had Marega Palser covering paintings with thick black paint, then covering herself with the paint. This was beautiful to watch yet it was also a destruction of art. “Every act of creation is an act of destruction.”- Pablo Picasso (visual artist). The one clipping that stood out to me the most is when Mr & Mrs Clark actually stood outside and protested the streets of Newport. This indicates that they are not just doing this show just to be different or for something to talk about. They are deeply involved and have put so much work into something that is a lot bigger than just a performance.
The aesthetics of this production were beautiful too. The lighting, by Helen Pickering completely enhanced the show. The set which was at the start, somewhat normal, then it turned into a complete intentional mess. My representation of this was that it paralleled the chaos that’s going on in this world by slowly destroying all creative means of art.
One thing that kept me on my edge of my toes is when Marega Palser, beautifully dancing, kept lying on the floor right next to broken glass. This didn’t faze her one bit. It was like she was saying, if I cut myself, I cut myself, I am not stopping. Her passion was beyond anything I’d seen before and it was mesmerising to watch.
This is a controversial piece that will get your heart pumping and your mind racing. Their references, contextual aspects and their use of worldwide history was what made this show stand out, not only making it regionally political, but worldwide. This show reminded us that art and the art of creation are the most important things this world has to offer. “Without art there is no community”. Yet when art is being destroyed or even more recently, when art funds are getting cut, is there much hope for the future? This is a powerful political play that will hopefully get you worked up and stand up for something that you believe in. If everyone had as much guts and intensity as Mr and Mrs Clark did, the world would be a better and much more enjoyable place. They took a stand, and they delivered.
Smash it Up by Mr & Mrs Clark tours the UK this spring http://www.mrandmrsclark.co.uk/news.htm