Signs Of Our Occupy

Fri 2nd – Sat 10th August 2013


Megan Stodel

at 09:32 on 6th Aug 2013



‘Signs of Our Occupy’ uses the protest signs from Occupy Oakland to tell the stories of those involved. Tedious and self-indulgent, the production fails to convey a simple message, giving only a superficial understanding of the situation and therefore living up to much of the media’s unflattering portraits of the protesters.

I am interested in the Occupy movement and I have been frustrated by lazy reporting that is more concerned with making fun of the protesters than with making an effort to portray the heartfelt reasons these people have for being involved in the movement and any rational explanations they have for protesting. ‘Signs of Our Occupy’ could have been an opportunity to redress the balance but instead we are given monologues from a range of characters that do little to inform the audience or even keep their attention. The stories that are more engaging are not exactly helpful for the movement. One woman sings “Jump fuckers!” as an encouragement to those she perceives to be responsible for the financial crisis to kill themselves, while a man reveals he is only involved in the movement because he wants to get another protester into bed. While those on either extreme of the debate about the utility of Occupy are unlikely to change their mind regardless of the quality of any show, the majority of people without strong opinions might well leave with the idea that the protesters are shallow or extreme.

The show was in trouble from the start, as for some reason, the first five minutes were spent with a film showing random clips of the Occupy movement while the cast grouped in extremely slow motion. I do quite literally mean five minutes. I had all but zoned out by the time the cast actually started to say or do anything relevant.

Unfortunately, most of the monologues we are then subjected to are dull, either due to the content or delivery. The acting leaves much to be desired: speech patterns are laboured to create distinct characters and not a single monologue went by without a line being stumbled on. Actors seemed confident but would have benefited from more rehearsal. The cast were also poor at ensemble acting; it was clear that several were keen to grab the limelight any time it was possible, with reactions that were contrived and exaggerated, serving to distract from whoever the focus was supposed to be on. A few gave more adequate performances – I noticed Sionne Tollefsrud, Zoe Godfrey and Nia Lundkvist – but these were not nearly enough to save the show.

The cast are young and no doubt will improve with experience. However, ‘Signs of Our Occupy’ is more irritating than inspiring, achieving the opposite of its presumed intentions by leaving the audience disengaged.


Costanza Bertoni

at 10:14 on 6th Aug 2013



Amongst the myriads of show topics present in the productions at the Fringe, I felt that the 2011 occupy in Oakland, California was a new and niche topic. Performed by Oakland School for the Arts, I was told that this subject for the company was something close to home, quite literally, as it happened right on their doorsteps.

The 14 pupils from Oakland School took on the parts of people who had participated in the occupy, devising the monologues themselves but basing them on the slogans on the signs originally used in the protest.

Evaluating this production proved to be quite a task. The intention, the message and the creative design behind it were adequate, and suitable considering the young age of the performers, who were also the writers. However, this meant that despite appreciating it as a school production, the overall quality and depth was not the most gripping in relation to the standard present at the Fringe.

Set up in the round, a variety of signs, tents and rubbish cluttered the stage, causing quite a few stumbles, and slip-ups, not only physically but also in the running of the lines. The cast however responded well to one another, reacting in the background as they each spoke in turn. Actors of distinction were Sionne Tollefsrued as the hippy with a guitar, whose voice was very unique and engaging, Olivia Lowe, with her brave depiction of a deranged alcoholic, and also Jisella Feied, the Latin-American punk whose earnest tone and switch between accents was natural and smooth.

The key problem with the production was the pace. With such an undiscovered topic at heart, the piece would have benefitted from a more rapid transition between the monologues on stage, and most importantly, a shorter, catchier start. Although viewing the original footage from the protests was a nice touch in order to give root to the production, the ensuing slow-motion on stage dragged towards the end, as it began to feel excessive and a little self-indulgent. A snappier beginning would have complemented the footage more appropriately.

Signs of Our Occupy did feel a little like it was dryly taken out of a textbook. The characters were stereotypical, and the ‘varying’ perspectives on the protest largely repeated and translated the notion of ultimately ‘defeating the evil of capitalism’. An original topic, it would have benefitted from some extra layering with controversial and contradicting thoughts. Despite this, the show did demonstrate signs of thought and dedication, leaving the audience for the most part, visually occupied.


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