A col­lab­o­ra­tive park­our dance the­atre pro­duc­tion called ‘On Edge’ is cur­rent­ly play­ing at fes­ti­vals and the­atres around the coun­try. The idea was the cre­ation of vision­ary artis­tic direc­tor Anja Mein­hardt, direc­tor of the­atre com­pa­ny Jus­tice in Motion. On Edge brings togeth­er mem­bers of the Park­our, slack­line, dance and the­atre com­mu­ni­ty. The aim of the pro­duc­tion is to high­light the often hid­den glob­al issue of mod­ern slav­ery, which is cur­rent­ly affect­ing mil­lions of vul­ner­a­ble people.

Pho­to: Joe Ibbett (@imajoetographer)

On Edge is a phys­i­cal­ly demand­ing and exhil­a­rat­ing per­for­mance with a lyri­cal beau­ty com­bined with some heart-stop­ping park­our moves. The sto­ry takes place on a build­ing site; the set is con­struct­ed main­ly from scaf­fold­ing which is end­less­ly recon­fig­ured through­out the performance.

The nar­ra­tive charts the progress of a migrant work­er who sets out on his new life full of hope, dream­ing of being able to lift him­self out of pover­ty and sup­port his fam­i­ly back home. As he takes his place with the oth­er work­ers, the sto­ry unfolds as he – and the audi­ence – slow­ly realise that all is not as it seems, and the dawn­ing real­i­sa­tion that he has been lured into a life of slav­ery takes hold. It’s a pow­er­ful and orig­i­nal piece of the­atre and is an emo­tion­al expe­ri­ence to watch.

The accom­pa­ny­ing sound­track was com­posed by Quentin Lachapele for On Edge. It’s a jagged and dense elec­tron­ic sound­scape, encom­pass­ing the metal­lic sounds of the build­ing site. Lachapele has been with the team for the entire process, devis­ing and adapt­ing the chore­og­ra­phy as the work developed.

The six mem­bers of Jus­tice in Motion come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds, rang­ing from park­our, such as George May­field, who plays the gang­mas­ter, to the­atre, slack­line and cir­cus. Phil Hul­ford who plays the migrant work­er comes from a dance background.

I spoke to George May­field about On Edge…
What inter­est­ed you in get­ting involved in this project?
“It’s an hon­our to be able to con­tribute my park­our skills to a project tack­ling such an impor­tant human rights issue as mod­ern slav­ery and, hav­ing nev­er done the­atre, I knew it’d be a huge learn­ing experience!”
What has been the recep­tion to the show so far?
“The recep­tion in Brighton, Edin­burgh and Lon­don has been excel­lent – we’re thrilled with the impact it’s hav­ing on peo­ple. One of our aims is to get the park­our com­mu­ni­ty engaged, so far we’ve had lots of park­our peo­ple come to the show and feed­back has been real­ly positive!”

On Edge is part of a larg­er project, the Free­dom Tour. It is in part­ner­ship with INSPIRE Park­our Community.

On Edge is on tour for 2019 at:

13 – 14 July   River­side Square, Bed­ford + Work­shops
20 – 21 July  Mar­ket Place, Ban­bury + Work­shops
17–18 August  Cas­tle Court­yard, Oxford
31 – 1 Sept   Free­dom Fes­ti­val, Hull
6 – 8 Sept    Lakes Alive, Kendal
14 – 15 Sept Out There Fes­ti­val, Great Yarmouth

Shows and work­shops are Free Entry. At Bed­ford, the show takes place on Sat­ur­day at 3.30pm and on Sun­day at 11.30am and 3.30pm. Between the shows, the team will be build­ing obsta­cles and any­one who wants to have a go can prac­tice some park­our moves: the On Edge team will be on hand to super­vise and help. There will also be work­shops at Ban­bury, times yet to come.

There are plans to take On Edge on tour again next sum­mer, to Edin­burgh Fringe and worldwide.

Cur­rent­ly there are a report­ed 45 mil­lion peo­ple in some form of mod­ern slav­ery world­wide. There is huge poten­tial for that fig­ure to rise, as cities in rapid devel­op­ment demand even fur­ther need for cheap labour. Human traf­fick­ing exists on con­struc­tion sites and farms but also goes on in our dai­ly lives, in nail bars and car wash­es. There has been a severe denial of work­ers rights in the build­ing of foot­ball sta­di­ums with many work­ers injured or dying. As the artis­tic direc­tor Anja Mein­hardt said to me “By the time the World Cup starts, there will be one death for every player.”

Pho­tos tak­en at the Green­wich and Dock­lands Inter­na­tion­al Fes­ti­val by gourmetgigs.com, except for image 2.

UPDATE 2020: Shows were planned both in the UK and over­seas. These will not now be tak­ing place due to Coro­n­avirus. The com­pa­ny will be resum­ing shows in due course 

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