Out of Water
Out of Water is a journey from the shore to the sea about what we pass from generation to generation in habits, half-remembered stories and strands of DNA.
It is about mortality and survival, fragility and alchemy, swimming and singing. The audience begin a mile away from the performers at dawn or dusk and walk towards them into the sunrise/sunset, until they are united at the water’s edge. Throughout their journey the audience listen via headphones to a live radio transmission soundscape and score.
My mother taught me to swim. I was so scared out there in the water
‘Won’t someone help me; can’t you see I’m drowning?’
‘I’ll help you darling.’ My mother showed me how to float, taught me how to breathe. Sometimes she would join me and I would I watch her move underwater dancing in a secret world, infinitely light.
She can’t make it down to the sea now. The last time I came here with her she made it half way, further back than we have come, and then she stopped and sat on the sand, exhausted, unable to catch her breath.
I realize that without her now I can’t touch down.
I am out of my depth, out of breath.
Won’t someone help me; can’t you see I’m drowning?
“We are on Portobello Beach, Edinburgh, at sunset. We walk west, as a pack, a herd, into the setting sun. The shipping forecast gives way to the dulcet tones of Helen Paris (half of the esteemed UK/USA company Curious, although in Out of Water she is collaborating with sculptor/ visual artist Caroline Wright).
Helen’s seductive voice lures us siren-like to the sea. It’s a glorious evening, the sun a rich rusty red in the West, the sea a soft blue, the sky lilac streaked with deep indigo. The tide is out, the waves lap softly on the shore. The headphones feed us Helen’s poetic reflections on learning to swim; on the lack of lighthouses; on the behaviour of migrating geese, whose v-shaped formations increase their flying speed. A male voice continues with the lifesaving instructions. A beautiful violin line floats in (courtesy of composer Jocelyn Pook).
The soundscape is wonderful; the music gorgeous; the visual image of the line of bodies facing the sea spectacular … Out of Water is a heart-warming experience. What a delight to be away from the turmoil of the Fringe for a few hours, witnessing something beautiful and simple, staged in the open air. A pleasure, really a pleasure.”Dorothy Max Prior, Total Theatre
“A poetic and musical meditation on how easily we can end up all at sea. It’s a wonderful melding of performance and landscape, the sky blushing silvery-pink as we wander across the beach towards the pewter ocean, which meets the shore like a line drawn in charcoal in a child’s wonky hand. Awaiting us are a group of sailors in white shirts and royal-blue culottes, a rope at their feet.
Through headphones we hear voices. At first, the shipping forecast, then some instructions on how to conduct mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Then the memories of a woman, now out of her depth, recalling her mother’s attempts long ago to teach her to swim. e rope becomes a timeline in which past, present and future coexist. We began as fish, so do we now flounder on dry land? The waves ripple against the shore, gulls wheel in the sky, and the timeless heave-ho of a sea shanty reminds us of the endless push and pull of time. “Her ageing pushes her back”, says the woman of her elderly mother. “My children’s ageing pushes me forward”. … The sun finds its warmth on the back of your neck, and as you stare out to sea you view a remarkable glimpse of humanity. Not drowning, but walking resolutely towards the future.”Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
“Undeniably poetic, Out of Water is a dream-like creation combining music, words and movement on drowning, childbirth, the challenges of singing and souls lost at sea. There’s a rigour and steely core … a sense of inevitability to its strange unfolding events, avoiding any feeling of whimsy … never less than gracefully lyrical, and its unforgettable closing image manages to be both magical and terrifying.”Edinburgh Festival The List
Created by Caroline Wright and Helen Paris, text set to music by Olivier Award winner and Golden Globe nominee Jocelyn Pook and sung by renowned soprano Laura Wright, Out of Water was first commissioned as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. It has since travelled to beaches in California and Scotland as part of PSi19 and The Edinburgh International Festival, respectively. A cast of thirty performers, singers and swimmers is drawn from the local communities. Produced and managed by Artsadmin.