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27th July 2019

Edinburgh Fringe Preview: Sound Cistem

Anuli Changa talks to Lizzie Morris and Ayden Brouwers after their work in progress performance in Oxford as part of the OffBeat Festival
Edinburgh Fringe Preview: Sound Cistem
Sound Cistem Photo: Hannah Pye

The idea for Sound Cistem came “from a conversation” in which performers Lizzie Morris and Ayden Brouwers described themselves as “inappropriately drunk”. They found themselves in a “passionate” discussion about trans theatre and the need “to make something that combatted cisnormativity”.

Sound Cistem is a dance show situated in a night club. Both performers “realised that some of the grossest things that have ever been said” to them happened on “nights out.” This production invites the audience to look and listen to the way Brouwers and Morris “view their bodies and the way others view their bodies.” Sound Cistem explores the “increased threat” trans people can experience in a night club, whilst also recognising that clubs “can be queer utopias”.

Watching the work in progress version of Sound Cistem (as part of the Offbeat Festival), it was clear how determined the team are to raise awareness of trans experiences. This is not just in relation to the personal experiences of the performers, but also highlights the intersectionality of experiences and the diversity of ignorance experienced.

Sound Cistem features soundbites from numerous diverse transgender individuals. This gave the performance a rawness and honesty, particularly when different experiences were portrayed by the performers movements. The show was captivating because the dance and movement was at times abstract and interpretative and at times a stark and direct representation of the words heard by the audience.

Brouwers and Morris started with around 20 hours of “fascinating conversations with young trans people” from all different backgrounds, the recordings were a lot more than they needed for the planned 40 minute verbatim show. Therefore, they focused on certain interviews to “put more emphasis” on trans voices such as people of colour and disabled trans individuals. Brouwers and Morris explained that “it would be remiss of us to not acknowledge the intersections of transness with racism, misogyny and disablism”.

Morris and Brouwers explained that it “was slightly unfortunate…that [they] had to cut out so many interesting and important insights for time”. To mitigate this, they “are planning to start The Sound Cistem Podcast, to keep recording and elevating young trans voices”.

Brouwers explained that the choice to make Sound Cistem a dance show is based on using a “medium” that has “always been a very gendered form”. Brouwers added that “a lot of modern and contemporary dance seeks to reduce the human to just a moving body” this allows the production to comment on “the dehumanastion of trans bodies into vessels of political discourse.”

Sound Cistem is unmistakably unique and enthralling. Brouwers and Morris have stated: “if we can make even one trans person feel a sense of catharsis, then…we’re putting some good out into the world.” Sound Cistem has already achieved so much with its candor and unapologetic portrayal of multiple trans experiences. It is a must-see at Edinburgh Fringe, to quote Brouwers and Morris: “we need as many people on our side as possible…we’re tired.”

Sound Cistem is a Plaster Cast Theatre production running 11th-26th August at Edinburgh Fringe, ZOO Playground.

Follow the rehearsal process on Instagram: @plastercasttheatre

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