Over the course of a 50-minute show, travel through more than 25 years’ experience and see a canvas come to completion.
Saras Feijoo is an international multidisciplinary artist who has lived in Scotland now for over 8 years. She specialises in clowning, physical and visual theatre, movement, dance and metaphysical figurative oil paintings. She was born and grew up in Venezuela within a Spanish immigrant family and has lived in Colombia, Ecuador and Spain.
Memories of a Lullaby: The Need to Remember and the Wish to Forget is a one woman show which uses a combination of artforms to present Saras’ experience growing up in Venezuela, drawing on multiple true insights which reveal the constant tension between horror and beauty, desperation and hope, which has been described as “a strong, multi-layered powerful and moving picture” by Manipulate Festival Director, Simon Hart.
After performing to enthralled audiences at Brighton Fringe, Saras returns to Scotland as part of the Refugee Festival Scotland performing at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Wed 15 and Thu 16 June, when the subject matter at the core is right on target within current cultural machinations.
Q&A with Saras Feijoo
LC: Memories of a Lullaby is inspired by harrowing sites you have experienced since childhood, and the continuing situation in Venezuela. Did the idea come to you fully realised or gradually build up over the years?
SF: From the beginning, I knew what subjects, themes and stories I wanted to work on for the piece. I was influenced by my other work with Director, Yael Karavan in terms of delivery, and was inspired by my “philosopher” Marelis Loretto Amoretti, who I have been working with for the last year or so, so the show started to develop itself and take a direction I didn't expect – this direction being the portrayal of the harsh reality that is currently happening in Venezuela which is, perhaps, painful to accept.
The last development stage of the show, which happened last month before the Brighton Fringe performances, Amoretti and myself started to explore the actual situation people in Venezuela are experiencing right now: the lack of food, medicines and the frustration of everyday life, with knowledge in the current social, cultural and political climates infused into the piece, ensuring it was representative of a real situation, as opposed to an artist’s imagining.
The process have been intense, painful, at times liberating and perhaps, reflective. However, I personally believe that by tackling personal issues, even if they have a geographical location, we can transform them into the universal, hopefully giving space for the audience to reflect on their own life's experiences.
LC: You are a multidisciplinary experimental performer, utilising physical theatre, storytelling, dance, and immersive installations – does variety for delivering the final performance help or hinder when exploring such a personal issue?
SF: In this particular case, the combination of different art forms have helped me to bring different dimensions to the show, delivering something I hope has depth and meaningful content for our audiences. Using a variety of artistic disciplines has helped me explore the subject and reach further within myself to deliver my vision the best way I can.
For me this piece is an expression of that constant battle some of us experience inside ourselves on a daily basis and how, I personally, am trying to transcend it and create art.
LC: Have you collaborated with other artists to bring this piece together?
SF: Yes! Across the two years of development, I have welcomed different artists to the creation process.
My director and creative advisor, Yael Karavan helped to bring out the experiences I wanted to work on and explore the material I have inside to create the piece.
After that first exploration, many doubts about myself and my past started to rise, and that is when I welcomed my ex -classmate and talented philosopher, Marelis Loreto Amoretti to the process. I asked her to write articles about Venezuela which helped me to understand much more myself, as well as give me the realisation that I wasn’t “the weird one” but, to some extent, was the result of a rotten society.
I also worked with musicians and composers, Gavin Taylor and Luis Perez Valero, who have both created very powerful bespoke music tracks that are used in what it could be considered the most significant moments of the show.
LC: You create a piece of art during the piece – is there a final image within your head that comes to the canvas, or is a guttural reaction to certain points in the performance?
SF: It’s a little bit of both. The final image I create every night throughout the show has been designed to harmonise with the material explored in the performance – I know what text I’m saying and what the next movement will be, so I know what the next part of the painting will be.
However, I also respond to what's happening in the performance, which makes my relationship with the painting different every night. The colours I choose to use, the stroke on the canvas and the way I move my hand are guttural reactions to certain points in the performance.
LC: Is this piece accessible to those who don’t know anything about Venezuelan culture/history/politics?
SF: Yes, totally! In fact, this piece explores how socio-political conditions shape us as individuals, while attempting to give a perspective on how reality differs greatly, depending on where we are born and raised.
My initial idea was to share my story which has been hidden for so long. I could no longer hold the pain inside myself, created by the tension between the terrors I experienced while living in Venezuela and the beauty of the country. The horror of gunshots every night, the corruption I witnessed, the ever-present fear that death was around the corner, juxtaposed with and the beauty of my family, my friends and the sun that everyday warmed my skin!
For many years, I was unable to talk openly about these experiences, even with my closest friends. This show has given me the tools I needed to bring these stories out – to create something beautiful and share my story from an honest place.
The show started because I wanted to share and heal my own past experiences about my upbringing but now, I feel I am just the bottle that has crossed many waters and this show is the message contained in it.
We believe this show brings many different colours into one place and that every member of the audience will hopefully find the space to reflect on their own life's experiences.
Memories of a Lullaby is no longer mine and this story is no longer about me – it’s about my friends, family, loved ones and everyone living in Venezuela isolated and experiencing difficult circumstances. This show would be the hope at the end of the tunnel that they cannot yet see... and for the audience, hopefully an eye opener to this unimaginable reality.
Memories of a Lullaby is at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Wed 15 & Thu 16 Jun at 7.30pm.
There will be a short Q&A after the peformance and a silent auction for charity of the art work created on stage.
www.scottishstorytellingcentre.co.uk or 0131 556 9579 to book.