Months of collaboration between The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Camden Council, Veolia Environmental Services, Platform-7 and conceptual artists Akleriah culminated last weekend with a series of unique, site-specific performances of the original production Veolia Songs across Camden. The multimedia, all-singing, all-dancing spectacle featured twenty talented creators and performers raising awareness of environmental issues and recycling against the backdrop of a special Veolia refuse tipper truck provided by Camden Council. Camden’s Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Environment, Councillor Sally Gimson, was also on hand to represent the borough, and donned a dress made by the artists from the remains of discarded tights to mark the occasion.
Veolia Songs was born out of a unique collaboration between Central’s students, conceptual artists Anna Kompaniets and Lenka Horakova (as Akleriah), and Platform-7 entitled The Tights Ball. Veolia Songs was devised as a part of this project and through a number of public participations during which broken and discarded tights from across Camden were collected and then transformed into artefacts such as mobile phone covers, hats, dresses and the beginning of a giant Camden tights ball. Collecting the tights also meant talking to and collecting stories from local residents and these stories, like the tights, were wound together into the performance.
The devised, original production of Veolia Songs was performed by Central’s MA Music Theatre Students on Friday, 20 June and Saturday 21 June outside of Swiss Cottage Library and at Somers Town, Euston, respectively. These followed a previous performance earlier in June at Queen’s Crescent Market.
Speaking about the collaboration, Councillor Gimson said: “We’re pleased to support the re-imagining tights project and performance during Recycling Week, as it is a fun and innovative way of reminding people of how much material is thrown away that could actually be recycled. To help, we have used tights donated at Camden events in products developed by the project. It’s not just tights, though- in Camden you can also recycle a wide range of materials in your weekly collection or at any of the on-street recycling sites across the borough.”
The Tights Ball grew out of a similar project involving tights and first undertaken in Lewisham. A number of arts venues, organisations and local councils have since lined up to take part in future iterations. The primary aim is to demonstrate the power of recycling and the importance of considering environmental issues in our daily lives. Through gathering the stories of numerous women from across the capital, it also serves as a powerful tool in learning about and discussing women’s experiences.