REYKJAVIK - 20.07.19

Musings on our time in Iceland as part of RVK Fringe, written by Anthony Lo-Giudice

It’s 3am in Reykjavik and we are on our way home after some drinks with friends. We stop by the Sólfar and take a moment to rest whilst Al attempts to get our bearings on the journey home. We contemplate getting a taxi, but decide the air will do us good. We’ll probably regret it…

We sit quietly. The sun radiates from the stainless steel of Jon Gunnars sculpture, across the bay and spill outs onto the concrete steps we sit on. Al frantically tries to memorize the road home before his battery dies whilst my mind begins to wander and muse over the sculpture that’s bathed in a golden light before me. I remember reading something about the Sólfar once in a travel book…a dreamboat symbolizing progression, freedom and an ode to hope? Something along those lines…

I contemplate on how many countless tourists have stopped to admire it’s Vegvísir masts (a powerful magic stave) or its skeletal resemblance of a great whale. To me, It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of sculpture ever created. It talismanic properties radiate across the city and its inhabitants. The Tyne Bridge has its charms, but it doesn’t have magic built into it…

My head is spinning from a concoction of alcohol and exhaustion after 3 days of almost no darkness, but at this moment, things start to calm. I listen to the lapping of the Ocean on the rocks, the air cascading down mount Esja, the sound of an endless clear sky. I close my eyes and feel a moment of absolute harmony. Life is simple and clear.

I exhale, fall asleep and am woken up again. The road home has been memorized and It’s time to get onto it. We’ve got shows in a few hours…

This year, we were invited to Iceland to present L’uomo as part of Reykjavik Fringe Festival from the 4th-7th July.

RVK Fringe is a fairly new arts festival working under the umbrella of the Nordic Fringe Network, in which Iceland’s capital city is taken over by over 100 theatre performances in 15 venues.

Shows include dance, spoken word, stand-up comedy, improv, poetry readings and storytelling.

L’uomo formed part of this mix and was presented 6 times in 3 different venues. Galleri Fold, Dillon Whisky Bar and Dance Atelier.

As well as utilizing the opportunity to have our work showcased within the Nordic Fringe Network, RVK Fringe was a benchmark in its first year of inception within which we could begin to form an understanding of how the work can be presented, in what format and to what audiences it would attract for its future as a touring production.

The allure of an independent fringe has always had a pull on me. Smaller, more intimate, more community, more heart. That’s what I like. That’s where I want my work to be seen. RVK Fringe exudes this in both its vision and audiences.

Icelandic people are some of the friendliest people in the world. They have acclimatized to an often-harsh landscape with an open and warming attentiveness that cultivates a naturally safe environment to be around. A tonic for the anxious artist.

Now, I make no reservation in telling those around me that the thought of getting back on to the stage has terrified me. The waters of this year and been muddied with an over-loathing of self destructive critique. Things that felt so natural to me when I was in my early twenties suddenly feel weighted with self-doubt and the pressure of responsibility, expectation and the ongoing effects several injuries have had on my body. I guess I’m growing a bit older now and in effect, I’m trying to let my conscience and process of making art transcend in response to manor in which my body and mind are changing to the world around (and within) me.

Then, there’s the presupposition of people who are aware you have been making work for a number of years now…no room for error they ponder, they should know what they are doing by now…

It’s been scary, but exhilarating too. Like taking a mouthful of fresh air and exhaling after feeling the atmosphere of familiarity was becoming stale. I’m trying to create more with my mind and not my body. I’m dancing with my memories and not my legs. I’m trying to think with my heart and not my eyes. I’m trying (said, even slightly still with apprehension) to say mistakes are ok, to remove the anxiety of failure with the tranquility of acceptance, come what may. To give ones best and if ones best isn’t good enough, ce’st la vie.

There are fiddly-bits in L’uomo we are still trying to move through, but in reflection, we were really pleased with the audience response at RVK Fringe. Collectively, we are feeling hopeful about the future of the work…

What we found quite special about performing the work in this festival was the number of audiences from all walks of life who took the time to speak to us after to recall their own experiences in the story telling. The apprehension of persuasive gesture, to openly admire someone else and to open your heart to another are universal feelings. The need to connect to another and find a sense of belonging within the shelter of love are universal feelings. People find pieces of themselves, moments that belong to their own narratives and they jump into the world we are trying to create, because it has been their world too. That’s a nice feeling. I’m happy with that.

I’m back home now on English soil, reflecting on the 3 days we spent at the festival and to culminate my musings in one compact memory, my thoughts merge and spill into that moment at the bay…a silent reverie in which a cacophony of self critique and doubt dispersed for a moment. Stillness. Calm. Hope.

Icelandic people have developed the saying þetta reddast, which translates into ‘things will fix themselves’ or ‘everything will be ok’, and just for that moment at The Solfar, I felt I lived in it. Working as an artist can be precariously difficult. Growing older is terrifying. It feels impossible sometimes.

But this trip, that moment, those 3 days of endless sunlight in July, feel to have brought me back on course for why I do what I do. What I’m living for at this moment in my life and that whilst it will never be perfect, it’s not as bad as what I think it is. Things always have a way of working themselves out…

þetta reddast

Thank you RVK Fringe.