4:04 AM 18th November 2020
What About Us? Calderdale Film Premiere: The Aftermath
images by Ellis Robinson
Calderdale dance and theatre groups, Northern Rascals, and Northern Broadsides, in conjunction with The Piece Hall, tonight premiere their short film The Aftermath
The collective, all under 25 years old, devised, choreographed and performed the open-air dance piece as a response to their experience of COVID-19.
Produced with a soundtrack cut with news broadcasts and statements of sweeping blame of the young, The Aftermath
is their powerful, angry retort.
The anger is justified. From the eerie post-apocalyptic start, the stifled movements of the dancers, and accompanying choked stutters and sighs on a dissonant soundtrack serve as an unsettling reminder that this generation is voiceless; talked about, but never to, trapped in a situation not of its doing, and blamed for something none of us yet understand.
Sampled broadcast-media quotes we are all familiar with take on the significance they should always have had. 'Is it this demographic...not washing their hands...', 'Don't infect your grandparents'; words now stark and sinister while on screen we watch the young dance their own pain.
A segment of the dance depicts play and is joyous. But there is an uneasy nostalgia in seeing the young act with abandon and without inhibition: it already feels so long ago. Another reminder of what has been lost, and who it was that lost it.
The dancers each begin to wane and collapse; infected? tired? beaten? It would be post-apocalyptic if the apocalypse wasn’t now.
And the soundtrack beats on: 'isolation has a worse effect on our physical health than smoking or drinking.'
They start to wake, they start to touch, they start to fight back.
This generation wasn’t one of ‘Covidiots’; 'feckless,' and 'selfish,' as announced in the sampled commentary, but one made up of compassionate and selfless acts, it was their enforced isolation that was more extreme than most.
We see it in the performance: they are suffocated, they breathe; they are silenced but find their voice, they sleep and they wake.
A poem is read:
The sun scorched and our futures thawed
Along with the last of Winter's frost
A grip so cold it revealed the holes
In a world strung together by perpetual loss
Question the cost.
We wait our turn, and take our seat, and
we watch as our futures fade at the feet
of a government we didn't choose.
There's enough hope in this performance to not give way to complete despair. It is in the dynamism of their dance and the power of the poetry that closes the film, but it is not enough to stop the shudder at the damage that has already been done.
And it should not be forgotten. The film is moving, disturbing; it uncovers a truth thus far inexplicably and unforgivably ignored. Why have we not heard young voices throughout this 'unprecedented' time? Why are we not hearing them now? Why have they been blamed while suffering too? What is it we are doing?
For this reason, this film must be watched. The Aftermath
is art at its cruellest best, uncovering the most painful of truths with drama and beauty.
It is humbling and exhilarating that it is created by the young. By the young, but for us all. It is here that the real hope lies.
is available to watch on YouTube from 7pm today, Wednesday, November 18th.