Hetain Patel Presents…
THE AMERICAN MAN
On Thursday 9th March 2017, we welcomed to the stage… Spiderman! A cinematic and atmospheric sound that created a super and creative opening. The atmosphere began in a comical manner and continued throughout the performance with the audience laughing continuously at Patel’s wit and sarcasm. The American Man, giving a visually interesting performance, Patel incorporated celebrities off all aspects showing his imaginary, not too distant, future. His seamless performance moved between characters and sections, creating a collective and cohesive performance.
Perched on a stool, Patel began to break the fourth wall in an original manner as he created an atmosphere of portraying a filming of a vlog. Shrugging off, Patel talks about moving away from the video making, changing character due to responsibilities within life. The performance continues, always making connection and communication with the audience members. As he began to fidget from foot to foot. His character with lots of humour began to discuss his background, who he was underneath it all. Though he tried he could not release himself from the costume, entrapped. This added a sense of character building, the costume eventually was removed to reveal a white suit. Characters are important within the performance, being shown throughout.
Patel continues to chat to the audience, revealing an identity, followed by the removal of the suit. A change in atmosphere within the space was produced. Continuing to speak to the audience but having changed language, his character and person had developed further. A true and natural appearance, the body free and no longer wearing somebody else’s face.
Patel began to dress, strapping a microphone to his body, preparing for the characters we were about to encounter next. Incorporating a variety of techniques, from theatre work, acting, moving and rapping, Patel truly gave an insightful performance that led to many questions. Although at times, I believe further movement development would have added to the performance. Patel’s movement material was nicely executed and further development would have been interesting.
Many political aspects surround this piece including Barack Obama. We are introduced to his post presidential job of being head of Apple computers. Patel incorporated both humour, sarcasm and wit as he portrayed the character with accuracy. The complex characters pushed boundaries and really explored a variety of outlooks that contradict and also differences in world views. As stated ‘where freedom walks hand in hand with guilt’. Patel explored the idea of truly being honest and saying out load views that are not always accepted within society. The vast characters throughout the performance were beautifully executed with confidence and knowledge. ‘Bent into shape by society, pushed into a box we don’t belong’, really emphasising the push we receive from the world and society. Becoming oppressed by society through the morals and ideas we believe we should have.
Lighting was creative and added depth, the flickering lights alongside the rapping gave sense to an oppressive, arduous atmosphere. The dry sense of humour used throughout had the audience laughing out loud, opening up so many questions and giving the audience an opportunity to reflect in their beliefs. The performance made you question what was honestly spoken and what was correct, maybe even politically correct. How should we present ourselves…is it depicted by our society? Moving through these characters Patel expresses a diversity of opinions and statements including the constant reminder of technology. Speaking to the operative system ‘Siri’, this progressed into what Patel predicted to be a future embedded with virtual reality and people being plugged in to technology. I felt this was a very opening opinion and one not too far-fetched with current growth in technology use and the realm of VR.
With reference to men and women, Patel takes a look on gender perspectives. Using a males sitting positions he enables the audience to witness the so called male ways referring to the challenges faced by beta males when in the vicinity of the alpha male. Further, the incorporating musical genres throughout the performance such as the musical pop, contrarily represented a sometimes dark look on life and its oppressing feel. In contrast musical genres such as rap and smooth, relaxing sounds, gave a developing feel to that particular theme in the piece. The performance was complex covering so many aspects of today’s society, technology and the world in which we live in, shapeshifting through diverse characters. When taking this into account it could be quite easy to feel overwhelming and difficult to take in. Although aided with fluid and smooth transitions the sheer diversity in topics and approaches taken left me somewhat puzzled on where my opinions lay in these topics. Maybe this is exactly what Patel planned leaving the audience to question… Should we believe everything we are taught?
We thank Hetain Patel for his fantastic work within the LEAP Dance Festival 2017 and look forward to his work in the future.