DUBLIN THEATRE FESTIVAL: Mining Stories – Project Arts Centre, Dublin

Creators: Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere

Reviewer: Ciara L. Murphy

Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere are curators of voices, keepers of memory. The title of their documentary theatre production Mining Stories takes on a double meaning in this enthralling and challenging piece.

Mining Stories presents different perspectives on the 2015 mining disaster in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The tragedy, which resulted in the death of nineteen people and the destruction of several villages, is reflected on in the show by a wide range of voices.

Huysmans is the only body on stage but she is the keeper of these voices. The scenography, designed by Frédéric Aelterman and Luc Cools, consists of eight-foot pedals and several mounted and elevated wooden panels. The story is controlled by Huysmans but she does not speak.

At first, this reviewer was skeptical when Huysmans begins to present pieces of the story to the audience, tentatively stepping on the pedals to release the words (both voice and projection) onto the stage. The initial slow and determined pace seems unlikely to keep the audience’s attention for the hour-long duration. However, this is not the case, and Huysmans’s frankly spellbinding manipulation of the production’s raw materials keeps the audience’s rapt attention until the show’s finale.

Technology is the backbone of Mining Stories’s success. So much could go wrong but doesn’t. The tricky projection and sound design are spot on, never a missed beat. Huysmans’s and Dereere’s curation of the voices is effective and works in tandem with the technology to present a political, engaging, and informative night at the theatre.

This is one of the most engaging sixty minutes you’ll spend at this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival.

Runs until 30 September 2018 | Image: Hugh Cordeiro

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