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Lay Down Your Burdens by Rhiannon Faith Company
Choreographer and theatremaker Rhiannon Faith would like to invite you to step into an evening at the local pub, but a night at the local like no other. Here you can explore the beauty of humanity and the eternal need for community and compassion, take the weight off and help each other lighten the load and restore our weary souls.
Co-commissioned by the Barbican, London and Harlow Playhouse, Lay Down Your Burdens is a radically tender dance theatre show that invites you into the pub to explore the beauty of humanity…
Titled Lay Down Your Burdens, the 120-minute (inc interval) show is set in a rundown but friendly and welcoming British pub, hosted by charismatic landlady Sara who welcomes the same regulars each night, listening to their stories and woes and serving them the same drinks. Until, one day, a stranger with an excess of baggage gets blown in from the cold…
The show is set on a thrust stage with the audience on three sides as guests in the pub. We meet the regulars and hear their stories as they come in and take their usual seats. In this friendly setting, the guests (audience) are encouraged to join the conversations that go around the bar. With radical tenderness, humour and intoxicating behaviour we can ultimately restore our weary souls, rediscover what has been lost and lay down our collective weariness, however tuneful that may be.
Inspired by the Bob Dylan song Lay Down Your Weary Tune, music is a key element of the work. The pub setting features an original score by John Victor (of London band Ghengahr) played by live string section, and the voices of the audience are recorded, through unstructured and structured tasks and supported testimonials. The result is a collective weary tune, edited live, bespoke to each performance and place and played as the final moment of the show.
With extraordinary physical performance, live music, dubious karaoke and riotous pub games, this visceral dance theatre world draws together those who have been estranged or never even dreamed they were connected.
The world premiere performances of this exciting and vital new work will be at The Pit, Barbican 21 to 25 November 2023.
Rhiannon Faith explained ‘With Lay Down Your Burdens we’re seeking to create a vital sense of community for audiences and participants and to build a platform for compassion and connection. Ultimately inviting all members of the community to a place where they belong, where they feel seen, and where they can experience joy and togetherness, forging happier and healthier communities by providing a catalyst for positive social change.’
In The Guardian, Lyndsey Winship described Rhiannon as ‘one of the few UK artists making dance theatre that is pointedly socially conscious’ .
Lay Down Your Burdens was grown out of conversations with communities and developed from real-life experiences of the company, who works with psychologist Joy Griffiths to develop responses to burdens that are caring, creative and therapeutic. The show shines a light on individual suffering and discusses personal grief and serious illness. Suitable for over 16s, it contains strong language and scenes that some may find upsetting.
It is performed and devised by a cast of six intergenerational performers (Shelley Eva Haden, Donald Hutera, Dominic Coffey, Sam Ford, Sara Turner, Finetta Sidgwick) and two musicians, (India Merrett, Anna Clock).
The company have recently become the first UK company to be invited to perform at the Wuzhen Theatre Festival in China. They will take their previous show DROWNTOWN to the annual event, considered one of the premier festivals in China and Asia, for three performances 23 – 25 October.
Rhiannon Faith Company makes radically tender dance theatre, working nationally on big stages and locally with communities on the margins, always with social change and care at its heart. Based in Harlow, Essex, with nationwide impact, they are making bold, ambitious moves to secure a future as global leaders in original dance theatre with a social purpose, to champion community transformation and authentic belonging for all. The company returns to the Barbican following its poignant and critically acclaimed live and digital productions Smack That (a conversation) (2018) and Drowntown Lockdown (2020).
Rhiannon Faith Company has been nominated for five National Dance Awards; ‘Best Independent Company’ 2021, 2022, 2023, ‘Best Digital Choreography’ 2021 (DROWNTOWN LOCKDOWN), ‘Best Dance Film’ 2022 (DROWNTOWN live film). In addition, Rhiannon Faith was nominated for an AWA Women In Dance Leadership Award 2022. The company is an Associate Artist at Harlow Playhouse and an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. https://www.rhiannonfaith.com/