what the dog said to the harvest
Composer Jasmin Kent Rodgman
An incredible experience, I was deeply moved by the performance. Climate change is terrifying and it's so important to process what is happening through art and human connection. I've never seen a performance or work of art do it this well with so much urgency.
Southbank Centre PLANET SUMMER & SHUBBAK FESTIVAL 2023
A groundbreaking call for climate justice drawing on opera, dance, spoken word, immersive sound and film.
This isn’t a story about plastic straws or bags for life, this is the tale of how we got to here, this is ‘what the dog said to the harvest’.
Directed and composed by Jasmin Kent Rodgman, and written and co-directed by lisa minerva luxx, the work has been devised through rigorous research and the contribution of activists and grassroots networks across Syria, Lebanon and the UK.
Rodgman’s haunting score and luxx’s poetic oral essay traverse 400 years of history, examining the often overlooked colonial origins of climate change, reconnecting with indigenous knowledge and wisdom across the global south, and highlighting the responsibility humanity has to one another across borders.
Set within a documentary film and sound installation with stark yet striking choreography and howling musical movements that travel across the performance space, we are introduced to luxx’s visceral critique of Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes whose writings underpin Western science and philosophy. Weaving together poetry, fiction and memoir alongside critiques of Europe’s foundational philosophies, we move into testimonies of those in the global south for whom climate change, caused in part by the imperialism of the West, is a current reality rather than a future prospect (and one that is now already on the West’s doorsteps). The performance also cleverly and subtly draws parallels between the violence man has enacted on the planet and the violence white men have enacted on the global majority.
Jasmin Kent Rodgman’s sound installation and music score blends sound art, contemporary classical music and electronics. Featuring field recordings, operatic vocals, electric guitar, synths and experimental percussion, the show is experienced through live performance and 360° surround sound. Rodgman’s score draws inspiration from music genres and sources ranging from 20th century opera, plainchant, folksong, Islamic prayer calls and primal vocal sounds to weave a sonic tapestry around luxx’s searing yet poignant manifesto.
The work was originally conceived as an immersive promenade experience, with audience members free to move around the space as the work unfolds amongst and around them. Sung Im Her’s visceral choreography embeds dancers, musicians and singers amongst the audience. In constant motion, the ensemble migrates themselves and audience members around Milla Clarke’s stark, minimalist set.
Alongside large custom-made screens suspended in air, Clarke’s design includes tree fragments and grass braids (weaved during the show by our trio of singers) indigenous to each location the production performs in—ensuring an ecological connection to each place the show visits and maintaining an environmentally conscious production that uses local recycled materials and minimal transport.
The documentary & archive film projected throughout, largely shot by Syrian filmmaker Ali Sheikh Khudr with contributions from activists in Sierra Leone and Ecuador, features looping imagery juxtaposing the beauty of both natural and manmade worlds against climate collapse and climate emergency’s damaging impact. These loops gradually descend into bleak reality; yet glimmers of hope remain and reminders of humanity continue to interject the production’s increasing urgency.
‘what the dog said to the harvest’ is rooted in anti-racist activism. It is a call to action confronting the era of global human displacement we currently find ourselves in. It is an invitation for audiences to enter its world, to ignite empathy and relay one of the most important messages of our time.
CAST & CREATIVES
Producer, Director & Composer Jasmin Kent Rodgman
Writer & Co-Director lisa minerva luxx
Immersive Co-Producer & Film Co-Director Gaëlle Mourre
Choreography Sung Im Her
Set & Costume Design Milla Clarke
Lighting Design Nao Nagai
Sound Production Simon Hendry
DOP & Editor Ali Sheikh Khudr
DOP (UK) Laura Seward
Poet lisa minerva luxx
Soprano Mimi Doulton
Mezzo Soprano Rosie Middleton
Contralto Jess Dandy
Guitar (Baroque/Electric) Shannon Latoyah-Simon
Percussion Angela Wai Nok Hui
Dancer Amanda Pefkou
Dancer Samara Lanham
Dancer Anouk Jouanne
A softLOUD and Southbank Centre co-production.
Co-commissioned by Shubbak Festival and the Bagri Foundation.
Generously supported by the Bagri Foundation, Arts Council England and London Community Foundation (Cockayne - Grants for the Arts).