A Question of Consent
Kan Bonfils (1972-2016)
Craft Theatre Company presented a harrowing yet physically gripping theatrical production ‘A Question of Consent’ at The Rag Factory, London in January 2014. ‘A Question of Consent’ ran from 10th January to 2nd February 2014 at The Rag Factory, 16-18 Heneage St, London E1 5LJ. ‘A Question of Consent’ is based on a true story created from the memories of a woman very close to the company. A few years ago, she was forced to move house, and then groomed and raped on a daily basis for a month of her life by an elderly man. How did she get out? How did she deal with the trauma after? ‘A Question of Consent’ is an account of how Stockholm Syndrome can occur, how circumstance can dictate identity, how the after effects of such a horrendous circumstance (Rape Trauma Syndrome) can be everlasting, and how she found the strength to prevail. Using exhaustion and memories as a template to create, Craft is a theatre company who is authentic, powerful, intense and grounded in the way they perform. As a company Craft Theatre spent long periods of training and exhausting their bodies and minds on a daily basis to create this dramatic thriller, which is underpinned by current studies in cognitive neuroscience. ‘A Question of Consent’ pushed boundaries of the “traditional theatre” to create an exciting and rich experience for the audience. Under the umbrella of Craft Theatre Company, ‘A Question of Consent’ is an artistic collaboration between director and actor trainer Rocky Rodriguez Jr, performance maker Iulia Benze, director and actor Kurt Murray and actors Lucas John Mahoney and Ryan Prescott.
Question of Consent was initially inspire by the work ‘Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!’ by Iulia Benze, the search for more answers and authenticity continues. Still based on psychoanalytic concepts as repetitive compulsion, estrangement and melancholia, the theme remains the same, the universal taboo of abuse, trauma and Stockholm syndrome; the frame changes, as well the interpretation and style of tackling. With a unique style of directing and actor training, Rod Rodriguez Jr. places the entire plot under the roof of Rag Factory, London, in a cold hospital-like room, very clinical and sometimes even pathological, on a floor with invisible square landscape, similar to the film ‘Dogville’. On this floor, four physical performers are creating with their bodies and interactions the inevitable platform of revealing a secret that is too dark to be kept, the one of rape, Stockholm syndrome and rape trauma disorder/’distortion’(could be added in my opinion).
Unwillingly, a different abuse was created during the rehearsals and the performance process, an abuse of actors by the director, of which the spectators are made aware gradually, consequently the audience asks about this in a Q&A that follows each performance. Exposure. The director and actors are aware, but it is not light heartedly recognized. Not as a general rule, but valid in this case, recreating abusive relationships translated into the relationship of director-actors as well. It is an ego-driven process based on people, masochistic and repetitive in one way or another whose self-esteem and artistry is lifted high up and then crumbled by the director. Two entities being stuck in their role play, getting an addictive pleasure from one another.
When dealing with explosive material, things tend to get explosive. The environment in which the artists tend to play with bombs should be a friendly protective one where stage partners talk, analyse, or are aware of the energies, dynamics and thoughts that are occurring during the process. Openness as a process of everyone’s learning. Let’s face it; we all know the sayings: no light without darkness, sadness without happiness, no pleasure without pain, no gain without loss. As long as we are aware of our nature and the stand we are taking, it is a win-win psychoanalytic experiment that has at its end some very valuable universal human discoveries!