The Paper Project

Reviewer's rating

This collaborative piece of live art and theatre is hard to quantify in words with its passion, pain and frustration. These brave artists create a promenade of interconnecting pieces expressing the difficulties of immigrating to a city of fear, darkness and confusion. The cleansing of audience’s hands is followed by entering an initial space cloaked in darkness, illuminating five artists in spotlights of white light. The ability to walk around the space creates an atmosphere of uncertainty, of not knowing one’s place as we gradually form small groups around the sides. The nameless artists position themselves around the room – one reads in her home language, another lays in a foetal position upon the floor, one stands like a statue on a platform – a spectacle for our eyes. Another lies in a circle of broken eggshells as the fifth sits amongst soil and debris, scissors cutting, slicing slickly in his hands.

By combining art, physical/Artaudian- like theatre, monologues, singing/violin-playing, dancing and music, this piece brings to life these artists’ lost cultures and their attempt to integrate within a city that does not help them.

They start from “zero” as language bars them from the privileges of a culture they do not wish to embrace, but equally do not wish to be excluded from. A woman dances with scarves and speaks of learning a foreign language and trying to attend college. Then the audience’s primary sense is taken away from us as we blindfold our eyes, hearing the scraping, sharpening sound of scissors. The man sitting in the soil speaks of hopeless dreams and the endless struggle to keep going, to give more, do more and be more. As he rolls himself up in a childish chalk-drawn carpet of black paper, crushing the scattered broken egg-shells on his exposed vulnerable skin, he physically illustrates the pain of what was once meant to be the dream of a new and better life.

The amount of detail and originality that goes into creating these spaces is startling. The rose petals engulfing one of the rooms, with their beautiful smell filling the space, is juxtaposed with the earthy aroma of woodland debris surrounding the next one as one artist speaks of his home by the Nile, where he felt safe in the simplicity of riding his horse, Jack, and swimming with his dog, Steve.

Mark Storor is an award winning artist who once again produces a moving piece filled with intensity and emotion. The seven artists involved have all come from migrant communities and share their heart-felt stories of longing, fear, shattered dreams and misunderstandings. The notion of safety and knowing oneself is stripped away from these artists as the audience are taken on a journey into their struggles, constantly reminded that “we are all fragile vessels.”