16 March — 2 April 2022
Battersea Arts Centre
On the premise that his question cannot be answered, Malik Nashad Sharpe has developed the concept, choreography and direction of ‘He’s Dead’ “to shed tears for the things that we cannot unearth.” Combining dance, text, live action, and sound, the work explores humanisation, how far we can extend our care. This is their first time performing live at Battersea Arts Centre (BAC).
Malik Nashad Sharpe (alias Marikiscrycrycry) is an artist working in multi-media with choreography. With a cult following in London’s underground performance scene, his work has been presented in theatres, galleries, and festival contexts throughout the UK and internationally.
‘He’s Dead’ is a three-act homage to Rapper and actor Tupac Shakur, killed aged 25 in 1996 from a drive-by shooting. Marikiscrycrycry thinks Tupac was depressed from the knowledge of that experience in Tupac’s lyrics found in ‘Me Against the World’ and ‘So Many Tears’, with these tragic lyrics speaking of suicide. ‘He’s Dead’ has been made in three acts with each one as a portal into an emotional scenography looking at the violence of dehumanisation. For the ten years he has been making work, Sharpe has been asking the same questions looking at what it means to be a human, yet to be fighting for your humanity constantly.
The first act starts with a vigorous duet, at times joyous, at times tedious, constantly changing, defiant, pulsating, presenting the audience with different dance states. A rich environment of enquiry is created around the humanity of the body, rhythm work, the living archive of black dance material, but it ends up disrupted by a violent fight scene.
A hero emerges victorious but this is complicated by the loss of everything around him, fighting for humanity leads to a certain kind of loss that is hard to articulate. Referencing the lyrics of ‘So Many Tears’, particularly those around suicide ideation, they are sung as a ballad against a classical organ backdrop.
The last scene sees the entire cast engage with the hopeful gesture of dancing together, but this too also ends with a stance-in-defence, as if getting ready for another battle. The work is currently performed by Blue Makwana, Eve Stainton, and Alexander Love.
“A lot of my work inevitably says: Violence stays the same. It doesn’t end, or ‘get better’. It just continues. It returns with the same face. It feels like the human condition. I yearn for honesty about that.
I think what inevitably excites me the most about working with them (my creative team, these dancers) is their unique perspectives of movement, and their skillset in terms of performance. That there is something about the way they move that sets them apart. Difference is a really important material that underpins all of my work, and I mean that beyond identity politics. Who they are as people, excites me and the perspectives they bring are not made in an echo chamber, they clash and create friction.
I repurpose Tupac’s lyrics into the work and turn into a melancholic ballad. My goal in this work is inevitably to show that dehumanisation is so rife in our world. If a figure is flawed in any way by their actions, their sadness cannot be heard, acknowledged. It is heightened endlessly if you are Black.
The show will be performed in Battersea Arts Centre’s Council Chamber: “BAC is a beautiful building with an amazing tradition for holding experimental work, and punchy propositions well. I am excited to join that lineage.”
‘He’s Dead’ is styled rather than costumed by artist Mia Maxwell selecting baggy 90s outfits from Hip-Hop music videos, in animé, with visual kei and emo aesthetics. The majority of the original sound was created specifically for He’s Dead by Yummy Online and Joanna Pope and also includes music by JONI.
‘He’s Dead’ is at Battersea Arts Centre from 16 March to 2 April 2022. Every performance will be Relaxed, and there will be a Sensory Adaptive performance on Thursday 31 March. At BAC this means loud sounds and intense lighting, including flashing lights, will be softened and the audience will not be in the dark. To make the show accessible to as wide an audience as possible, all tickets are part of BAC’s new Pay What You Can pricing model. For more information visit bac.org.uk
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