Keisha Thompson walks in casually and stands behind a table and a music stand. In front of a sound sampler and her texts in print, she softly addresses the audience and starts singing. Moonwhile, part of Frascati Issues: To Voice, added a sprinkling of poetry and sounds to the theatre on Saturday 9 November.
Thompson, writer, performance artist and producer, presents the EP she released in June 2019. A video is running on a screen in the back while she sings her first song. She gracefully explains that her poems and songs are about the relationship with her dad, her intermittent dad. A dad who was always a distant presence, communicating through books and letters, obsessed with science, alchemy, symbols; The man on the moon, as she called her award winning solo show.
Next to her is her book Lunar, a collection of texts and poems she wrote prompted by the enigmatic bond with her dad. From mental illnesses to social expectations and norms, family constellations and other human issues, Thompson beautifully names these challenges we are all bound to reflect on at some point in life. Mathematical equations and the laws of physics shape the dramaturgy of the texts.
Gravity is there to remind us of inevitability, she says. Just like that, simply and without any pretension, we are immersed in a touching and layered universe, where words are merely containers to illustrate sensations. A poem turns into a song and then a piece of spoken word. Seamlessly, Thompson then addresses the audience directly, without any ceremonial performativity or emphasis on the fact that she has just gifted us with a song full of substance. It almost feels like a coincidence we are all gathered here to listen. The peaceful, contemplative atmosphere evoked by this artist makes time stop and our hearts beat a little faster.
The simple approach to complex topics is refreshing and wonderfully put together. Without being too invasive with her personal struggle, this fantastic multifaceted writer generously shares her subjective experience with us, tackling relatable conflicts and existential questions.
Crafted, subtle and full of humility, these 30 minutes of magic could have lasted longer and left the audience intrigued, wanting more.
Text: Keisha Thompson I music: Keisha Thompson, Andrew Wong & Bonnie Schwarz.