One Shot

BE Festival

Birmingham Rep



At the halfway mark of BE Festival’s tenth year celebration, it is easy to feel a collective excitement for the varied performance art from European companies.

The Festival was started at AE Harris in the Jewellery Quarter by Isla Aguilar and Miguel Oyarzun. With a sizeable growth, the festival now uses Birmingham REP as its hub, allowing audiences to see and appreciate an eclectic range of continental performance. Wednesday’s celebration saw a live documentary from Iraq and Belgium, technical circus skill from Belgium and dance from Germany.

Soul Seekers

Our first performance saw Mokhallad Rasem’s Soul Seekers. Rasem is a videographer and a documentary maker from Iraq/Belgium. Using the mediums of live performance art and film, Rasem depicts the connections he made with people during his time at asylum centres in Belgium and France. We were seated in the auditorium of the main stage, which was was framed by canvases of dawn faces, painted by the people he had met.


Rasem entered the stage with a cloth draped over his head and body, making sure not to reveal his face. He chanted and made jarring movements as if yearning to get rid of the heavy cloth hanging over him, and to finally see the world in front of him. Perhaps it is a reflection towards the real lives of those depicted within the documentary.

Rasem’s video documentary was then projected onto the back wall, with images and interviews to create a narrative of past tragedy, mixed with future hope. It softly, yet jarringly explained journeys of leaving home countries for want of a better life.

Rasem’s video images are enticingly raw, giving a beautifully intimate connection to reveal a story which connects us as a human race, telling us that love is a universal language.

Rasem captures innocent moments of happiness in circumstances of near tragedy. One particular moment was found where, in a centre in France, one young man yearned to see the smiling face of the Mona Lisa, and that he believed she would eliminate all of his current worries. The reaction of him seeing the painting was captured, and we saw the uplift in the young man’s soul.

The strikingly real accounts of people making the decision to leave their families and homes were laid are. Against the backdrop and pain and longing for family also lies a hopeful way of thinking. Rasem captures every day elements of love and human connection, highlighting the efforts of those who choose to help those in need, creating a narrative of powerful and all-encompassing hope.

One shot

How many ways can you eat an apple? This was the question explored in the second performance of the evening by Belgian company Cie. One Shot with their same-titled performance.

With their background of precise training and fluidity, One Shot allowed the audience to see the art of circus performance and Chinese pole theatre, against a backdrop of light hearted and rhythmic live music.

Trust, balance and an unbelievably strong core were the key elements of this amazing show. To balance three pick-axes on one’s head for an extended period of time is certainly impressive, but to do it while wrapping yourself around a Thirty-foot pole takes the entertainment factor to incredible new levels.

Their connection between each other was just as enticing as the performance itself. It was strikingly visual, where the audience were seated in the round which made for a light hearted and humorous narrative, with bodily strength and talent at its heart.


In Punk by Heptic Tide and Paula Rosolen, we saw an interpretive approach to the punk social movement, which was particularly prevalent in the 1980s and 1990s.

Choreographer Rosolen explored the era as it was and showed the ways in which the genre has left its mark on the world today. The live band which was made up of a stand-alone drummer and guitarist were pulsating, creating the iconic sounds and loud beats against the poetic dance interpretations of rebellion and anarchy.


The piece told us that Punk was, and is, not just a genre of music, but a way of life. The performance captured fashion, relationships and politics to gain the essence of the sometimes-misunderstood group.

With fast and impatient movements from the company, we saw a stylised cacophony to highlight the anarchistic lifestyle. It saw old wave Punk and blended it in with the new. Pogo sticks were a big feature in many sequences and the intimate scenes as performed by the company showed desperate internal struggles of everyday life.

With its unashamedly loud backdrop highlighting an iconic musical genre and lifestyle, it was hard not to nod the head along to the ever changing beats of the guitar and drums.

Elizabeth Halpin



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