The next Bell Square show is a little bit different. A group of pink aliens will be beamed down into Hounslow town centre – and they are very curious and sociable and will want to get to know you. However, these immigrants who arrive on our High Street have some quite different codes and conventions in how they relate to others - so you have been warned!
Who is Ljud?
Ljud is a collective of performers and artists from all over Europe who are based in Ljubljana in Slovenia. They say that they are a group of idealists who came together in 2006 to change the world. Their work focuses on different ways of interacting with their audiences, and especially on direct interaction with people in public places. Most of all, they like to engage people to become part of the performance - rather than just watching it. So, their shows are like games, rituals or a social event.
What is The Invasion?
Ljud’s show, The Invasion, comes to Hounslow town centre on 1 December. It is certainly not a typical theatre show. I would probably call it an ‘interactive theatre experience’. A group of aliens - strange creatures, painted head to toe in pink – crash land in the High Street. They are seeing humans for the first time and they want to get to know us, and our planet, better.
Their arrival provokes shock and disbelief at first – but it soon turns out that their mission is a positive one. They just want to get to know our world and customs and, in return, they offer to share their habits and rituals!
Every alien in the group has their own story, their own way of communicating, and each one challenges the public in different ways. Their presence and actions generate some really quite ‘electric’ interactions with the public. And every individual reacts and responds to them differently.
The performers love it when people react spontaneously and play with them. Whilst they may not conform to our sense of ‘normal’ interaction, they are pink – so hopefully no-one will take them too seriously!
What’s it really about?
This is a very funny show - but it also gently questions how we live in a multicultural society like London. It looks at the conventions of behaviour in public places amongst different communities. And in doing so, it questions our attitudes to others, especially to minority groups. Although the performers are pink and playful, the show challenges us about how we welcome new people into our community. Underneath it all, it looks at issues of communication and acceptance of diversity in our towns and cities.
It makes me think about how we all use the High Street. Some people just come to do shopping and pass through quickly. Others meet, sit on the benches and chat for hours. Others meet friends at the coffee shops and use it predominantly as a social space. The various groups and communities use it in very varied ways. I love this about Hounslow High Street as you get to meet so many different people that you might not otherwise get to know.
It also makes me think about how we all react to different people in our community – not to mention what new people think of us! I often wonder what people from other places must think on the train in the mornings, when everyone sits there in absolute silence. This feels like such a London thing. Or when they hear the tinkly music of an ice-cream van in the summer – I’m sure this is a (completely bonkers) British thing – where else would you get this? I also remember when I lived in the US and found it almost unbearable that people didn’t queue (properly!) in shops.
So what will our pink visitors be like? I’m sure they will open up very unpredictable exchanges with people on the High Street. Just imagine their fascination with what you are buying at the market! And those big red things going along Bell Road. And…. none of us are pink.
A review of this unusual street spectacle (in Fiesta Cultura magazine in Spain) described it as ‘Authentic madness’, which I’m inclined to agree with. But you decide for yourself….
Ljud will be landing in Hounslow High Street on Saturday, 1 December – at 1.00pm and again at 3.00pm. Let us know what you think, using #BellSquareLDN
Note: In some recent audience conversations, you told us that you would like to be able to look up more information about the artists and follow them on social media. So, I am starting to include their information for you.
Ljud can be found at http://www.ljud.si/slo/?lang=en
And you can follow them on Twitter @KudLjud