As an actor, singer and member of popular Glasgow band TeenCanteen, performer and author of Bird, Sita Pieraccini is no stranger to the Scottish arts scene. She presents Bird as part of the Made In Scotland 2016 showcase, in collaboration with musician David Pollock and FERAL; previous producers of similarly experimental theatre including Ellie Dubois’s Ringside.
Described by FERAL as ‘cross-artform work’, Bird is best categorised as physical theatre. There is no speech; Pieraccini’s acting and movement and Pollock’s use of sound are used to convey narrative. Originally conceived as a three-minute short, Bird is an ideal length at 40 minutes, with Pieraccini holding the audience’s attention for the duration of the piece. Her movements alternate between grace and clumsiness as she interacts with her environment, her facial expressions adding humour to the piece while also conveying a sense of unpredictability.
Although she dominates the stage, Pieraccini is not quite alone; Pollock sits dimly lit in the background, creating sounds with a variety of incongruous objects. He creates a rattling storm, and conjures up the absent bird with just a flutter of wings. The sound mixing definitely needs some alteration, as certain noises reach genuinely unpleasant, headache-causing levels, but otherwise the soundscape works effortlessly to suggest a natural environment, complementing the sparse stage set.
The structure of Bird is fairly episodic, gradually building up the themes of need, wildness and sustainability, with the hunger of Pieraccini’s character a recurring motif. The tone varies throughout, and although at times the piece seems slow and almost meditative, this is offset by a final twist that is both brutal and satisfying.
An absorbing and self-aware production that doesn’t shy away from presenting the harshness of nature, Bird is an expertly crafted piece of physical theatre.