mandla rae – as british as a watermelon

Theatre (solo show, lgbt)

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  • Summerhall Online - Summerhall Online
  • Watch onDemand (available from 19 January)
  • 30 minutes
  • Suitability: 14+ (Guideline)
  • Country: United Kingdom - England
  • Group: mandla rae / Produced by Switchflicker Productions. Director: Graham Clayton-Chance
  • Warnings and additional info: Contains distressing themes
  • Babes in arms policy: Babies do not require a ticket
  • Policy applies to: Children under 2 years
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‘My name is mandla. It means power. I gave it to myself’ – mandla rae has a selective memory and they are scrambling to piece together their life. Through the exploration of mandla’s fragmented asylum and migration memories, as british as a watermelon asks questions about belonging, trauma and forgiveness. Told through an unflinching autofiction narrative weaving poetry and storytelling set within a chaotically colourful, sensory performance space and imagined entirely for the camera with film-maker Graham Clayton-Chance; join mandla as they rise from the dead and reclaim their misplaced power.

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General venue access

  • Accessible entry: Information not supplied
  • Wheelchair access type: Not fully wheelchair accessible

  • Stairs: Information not supplied

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Nic Lawton (co-founder of Expial Atrocious theatre company) 151 days ago

First of all, this show was visually striking. I'm such a huge fan of this set and the lighting, and it can be so aesthetically pleasing when done right. This was definitely done right.
The white lighting gave the show an almost clinical feel, as though it was putting everything mandla was about to say under a microscope.
mandla's outfit was gorgeous, but within these rather beautiful moments were scenes of pain, danger, and I'm pretty sure my stomach dropped at one point.
Almost every frame was was a portrait. The use of light and shadow was stunning and helped to add new dimensions to each segment, creating visual, moving paintings throughout the performance. mandla spoke a lot about biblical and historical figures and I really feel that their performance reflected these speeches, as I found each scene to be an example of contemporary biblical images. You could definitely see some of these watermelon shots surrounded by neon lights on the walls of an art gallery.
The show had an overall intimate, rather gentle and dreamlike quality to it. And the occasional blurring was a great visual metaphor for memories and trying to retell certain events that you cannot remember. The use of silence also added to these moments of remembrance and reflection, making the dialogue following the silences hold a lot of weight. The discussions about trauma, the repetition, the affirmations, the reminders. All of these layers made for an expert display of writing and story-telling.
The cutting of the watermelons added another sensory experience to this piece, as you could image the taste while mandla ripped them apart or plunged several screwdrivers into them. I think this show should be watched with headphones as I can really imagine the natural sounds and mandla's voice to be a calming sort of ASMR, despite the subject matter.
Some of mandla's direct questions to the audience caught me off guard and I found myself internally reflected on my answers. I never thought about how I would identify my body, and I still don't even as I'm writing this. There are so many elements to a person that make you, you.
As British As A Watermelon is a raw and refreshing visual experience that highlights the questions surrounding identity and writing your own story. Featuring lots and lots of watermelons.

Sara Cormeny 155 days ago

A stunning, heartbreaking, thought provoking show. Exquisitely filmed and produced, beautifully performed. Very humane and also kind of chilling, it wrings the emotions out of you. A little over a half hour very well spent.

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