Performance

Visions season

Artists have long been associated with having visionary outlooks, whether inspired by dreams or questioning existing ideas, we have come to expect artists and creative thinkers to provide new ways of understanding and seeing the world. From the quiet, meditative drawings of the Thinking Tantra exhibition that traces the relationship between Indian Tantric art and aspects of Western abstract art, to the Words and Music Festival: The Roaring Twenties that explores the seismic cultural shifts that were happening across music, film and art at that time, this season explores visions in all its cultural forms. Our programmers and academic colleagues, working with Plymouth History Centre, have sought to bring together a vibrant programme of films, talks, exhibitions, performances and music events that open up new opportunities to engage with the visions, both historical and contemporary, that have changed the way we experience the world.

Visions of Agony: Redemption and Justice
A Review by Dr G. H. Bennett, Associate Professor (Reader) in History, Plymouth University

At the end of April, Peninsula Arts in association with Plymouth Wrestling Association, hosted a mini-talk and performance entitled: Visions of Agony, Redemption and Justice.

Combining a mini-talk on the history of wrestling with a three match wrestling show, the piece was written as an integrated performance: the talk (and the idea that some of the secrets of the wrestling business were being revealed) providing the context for a wrestling competition. 

The outcome of a best out of three series of matches would determine whether the revelations could continue. It culminated with the demolition of a young male wrestler by Adira (a female graduate of the Faculty of Arts) in an inter-gender wrestling match.

The event brought into the University people from some of the less affluent parts of Plymouth - those that society would typically describe as underprivileged (including the disabled and long term unemployed). For many, it was their first time in the University - indeed any university. The audience makeup was a fascinating illustration of the social divide along cultural lines.

Whether the event was a success or not I will leave to the review which has just appeared on the website 'Believe in Geek': https://believeingeek.com/2017/05/17/pwa-history-of-wrestling-mini-lecture/.  The George referred to in the piece, by the way is me (as in G.H. Bennett) and it is the name I have been working under as part of researching this field.

For me, the highlight of the evening was at the end when a teenager came up to me with a quizzical look on her face and asked "So, at University you can study subjects that you really want to study - I didn't know that".

The highest art (in elite terms) the event probably wasn't but as an interesting experiment in teaching sports history it ticked some boxes. And, you never know, maybe it opened a few eyes to future possibilities down the road.

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