27 October 2016
Students perform outstanding physical theatre production, Mnemonic
‘Mnemonic’, directed by Sevenoaks staff Gavin Henry, Claire Dunn and Mark Beverley, was an interactive and thought-provoking piece of theatre performed by the Sevenoaks School Theatre Company, comprising Sevenoaks students. The play is heavily focused on the concept of human memory and how it functions, illustrated through the themes of family and identity and how people perceive their own selves.
The story featured the discovery of a 5,000 year-old iceman and the ensuing conflict surrounding his origination and the ultimate location of his preserved remains. This was intertwined with the story of a young woman travelling across Europe in an attempt to find her father, whilst the boyfriend she leaves behind desperately tries to contact her. Both plots explored the different perspectives of where we all come from and how we are perceived by various different cultures.
The prologue featured the entire company moving across the stage and explaining how human memory works. Audience members were instructed to look under their seats to find a leaf and a black sleeping mask. Masks were worn and the audience was instructed to feel the veins of the leaf. These represented family and highlighted the difficulty of finding one’s ancestors because of the increasing numbers within each generation. The use of physical theatre (performance which relies on communicating to the audience largely through physical means) was a technique which gave the production excitement and held the audience’s attention, especially through the use of rewinds to show events a second time. The final part of the play was hugely effective, with the company tearing through a white paper backdrop that had been used to screen background performance pieces. This was hugely powerful as it was an unexpected development and left the audience in excited awe about what had taken place.
The play was performed in aid of Refugee Action, a charity supporting refugees and asylum seekers to resettle and build new lives in the UK, and donations were invited at the end of the performance. Gavin Henry chose this charity because he felt the play is hugely relevant today with the current refugee crisis and he was keen to raise funds and also raise awareness for this important cause.
We are very grateful to the talented and versatile actors and directors who performed this compelling piece of theatre – those who saw the performance certainly need no mnemonic to remember how much they enjoyed it!