I read somewhere that Britain voting “Leave” in the 2016 Brexit referendum was like “turkeys voting for Christmas”, a sort of collective self harm act.
Reports are emerging now that promises of a better off life after the political and economic divorce from the European Union were a fantasy and pre-referendum information released to the public was somewhat doctored.
The economic and social implications of Brexit are particularly tragic for youngsters who never voted for it, were not given any say in the ongoing EU deals or negotiation process but who will have to live in the post-Brexit deregulated Britain.
The feeling of the impending crisis is such that Brexit not only became a centre of the political theatre in Westminster, but a subject of a TV series, stage performances and art.
Offski is a Brexit themed piece of an immersive theatre performed by the young cast of Dumfries and Galloway Ensemble and produced by an award winning Electronika, formerly Electric Theatre Workshop, a team behind Big Burns Supper and Carlisle Fringe Festival.
The project was funded by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund and Holywood Trust, and sponsored by the Crichton and Dumfries and Galloway College. It allowed thirty young people, aged between 13 and 24, from across the region to take part in a three-week performance intensive to create, design and produce a new play.
The participants were mentored in a variety of key stage skills, from play-writing, developing costumes and props, devising their own characters, choreography and directing.
The result was Offski, a thought-provoking dystopian Brexit themed play presented in the dark subterranean crypt of Crichton Memorial Church in Dumfries.
I do not know who first came up with an idea to perform this piece of theatre underground or who made it possible – it was by no means an easy thing to accomplish. It turned out to be an effective and evocative location for tense mise en scenes of war, strife, domestic violence and censorshop that enacted so well all the fears, misapprehensions and confusion felt by many caught in Brexit mayhem.
It was astonishing how such a young cast and producers managed to spin a contemporary political eyesore into a stage narrative full of a sense of an impending doom with strong nostalgic, retro visual tropes!
I documented several Electronika projects with young people on a voluntary basis before, so I was only happy to help out this time as well, especially as the venue was only five minutes away from home.
We only had 30-40 minutes between the shows in a very dark environment to complete the shoot. I limited myself to one camera one lens setup to move from a set to set quickly. Jack had to wield an additional LED stage light which we used as a focus aid and a source of accent colours. The young Dumfries and Galloway Ensemble actors proved superbly professional freezing their dark and disturbing mise en scenes for the photos.