Nothing Is What It Seems To Be

Nothing Is What It Seems To Be

September 22nd, 23rd & 24th 2023

Heart of the Tribe Gallery and Zig Zag building present :
A site specific live performance by Melanie Thompson and Grace Surman

A homage to the Zig Zag building and Francesca Woodman

On three consecutive evenings artists Melanie Thompson and Grace Surman present an hour long immersive performance on the top floor of the building in Glastonbury. Each performance is unique for just that audience.

Composer Joseph Hyde created an original score and the performers are joined by special guests offering live music and song.

The audience numbers are limited to 25 each night and the audience travels with the performance.

Words by Melanie Thompson

“The starting point for this performance was the specific space located on the top floor of the Zig Zag building .
I created a dance / film work there 8 years ago and have since wanted to make something larger and for an audience ever since. This spring I asked Chris Black who owns the building if I could have a week in September to create something and if I could also pop in over the proceeding
months to prepare and do research. I decided quite early on that I wanted invite other creative’s to join me including a live musician and singer and a composer. During the summer I also invited Grace another dancer / performance artist to collaborate with me and a photographer and dancer and painter to also be part of the team.
Grace visited twice before September and it was in those sessions that we discovered a lot of material and objects we wanted to work with plus a shared obsession with the photographer Francesca Woodman. This gave us the emotional and structural material to create a series of stories told to the audience about her and our relationship to her work, which was very direct and from the heart. The week before we all came together Jo Hyde our composer came in and sourced all the sounds the building made and worked with Sarah our singer and Dougal our sax player. I also spent time with each individual before the last week talking them through the ideas and concept of the whole experience.
The 5 days we worked together as a team was through 5 scenario’s. Each day the scenario / plan I had written was developed and clarified in terms of the dynamic and visual story that was being told. So by the final day and first performance night it was a structure that worked. The one thing we could not total control was the audience’s role. I wanted the audience to move through the space so they could experience it from all types of perspectives, this meant they needed to be guided and taken care of. All the works I make in non theatre / gallery spaces have some sort of guide as the relationship between the performance and the audience is paramount to my work. In this performance the audience also had a moment where they became part of the performance as well through a simple game to heighten their experience of really looking and listening to where they were. The light was a very important element and I chose to play the performance as the sun was preparing to set each night. We also has a group of doves that lived in the building and they also became integral to the live event each night.

The final event had a limited audience number due to moving and seeing but each night was full and I was very happy that many people stayed to explore the space and talk to us afterwards. The title NOTHING IS WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE (which was written on a huge
banner to be read by passing traffic for 2 weeks before ) is important because I wanted to set up the possibility for the audience to experience with all their senses the space and the activities going on around them in a slightly different way than they normally do. I wanted to play with lots of different realities and ways of seeing and telling stories using humour and pathos.”

Melanie Thompson October 2023