SALT was highly recommended to me by a friend, I knew nothing about it. And considering how much I actually loved it - it really has become apparent to me how necessary reviews by people that look like me are! As well as being at the Southbank and Edinburgh Festival it has occupied many venues and is now showing at the Royal Court Theatre - until Saturday 1st June.
So when I casually asked my younger brother If he'd like to accompany me to the theatre, I had no idea what it was about... but, we were due a bonding session so off we went.
the black body(S)
Irony or Nah?
We got to the Royal Court early YES...
and although I am a regular in the space, I was slightly on edge with the heavy weight of being the elder sister to my Black Bodied Brother and not knowing what I was exposing him to.
The double shot of JD that he ordered at the bar confirmed he had received my anxiety.
We were early.
See/ Read Between the World and Me for an account on the lens Black people use in this White World to safe guard our abused bodies,
As we took our seats inside the auditorium we realised it was unallocated seats so, having arrived early we still appeared to be late...
Slowly we walked... to the back, where two seats had spaces.
Right at the back of the theatre… behind the majority white bodied people. He looked at me me and I smirked... you know how it is, my eyes said.
As we were seated we noticed another Black Body that occupied the stage – performer Rochelle Rose playing the part of the Woman.
We were pre-warned about the incense as we entered - but actually the smell was a comfort, that along with the plants and the opening monologue relaxed us just they way it does - and our hypersensitivity melted - as we absorbed the story.
“My mother and father, were Rastafarians from Jamaica, who moved to the UK when they were thirteen”
Photo Credit - Johan Persson
white supremacy line
Please check out my book review on Aphro-ism that gives a great account of how we all subscibe to white superiority.
SALT is a one-woman play performed now by Rochelle Rose, that documents Selina Thompson’s actual journey to reconnect with her ancestry by travelling (by boat) to Ghana and Jamaica.
With water being a major theme - it pulls you through a personal encounter and a factual history of the (black) stains and remains of the Empire.
The Title as a metaphor... but the symbolism is multi-layered
A pause before the analysis -
My mind admires and is inspired by meanings and deeper symbolic hidden reasons. And when a theatre piece executes this I am quite literally lost for words.
So lets first start with the definition of SALT
As well as adding flavor > Diversity
Being a natural ancient mineral > Ancestory
It is also, simply a CRYSTAL.
I found a particularly scene effective, that both explained the title and delved deeper into supremacy.
The title - Salt is used as an important visual by the woman to retell the relation-ships on board of the boat. A large block of Salt represented the different teams on board as well as symbolically representing hierarchy, capitalism and the establishment.
The Line of Superiority created by the Woman with the Salt blocks on stage looked like this -
The Crew members
Photo Credit - Johan Persson
The Woman, travels up and down The Line of Superiority repeatedly, smashing the Salt blocks in the physicalisation of the effects of oppression -
The Ones on top
Oppress the ones below
That torture the ones underneath.
[and the Woman's position]
The bottom of the pack - The Artist…
White Supremacy - I think this is the perfect explanation for any person that is confused about how White on Black violence is inseparable to Black on Black violence.
“I’m shouting at her and she’s shouting at me and we’re still at sea in the morning”
What is also interesting is, as the Woman smashes each piece of rock – it is the bottom group… her group, the artist…
the Black Woman
whose piece of rock shatters the most, creating the tiniest pieces… dust almost
Listen here to a poem I wrote on White Superiority
Photo Credits – Johan Persson
Salt - sails us through the disconnection of the people of the diaspora. With the stinging effect that salt has on open wounds.
It aims to cleanse though - and speaks unapologetically for a people whom I'm a part of. The Woman, evolves into an ancestral being - especially towards the end where her nurturing energy offers each audience member a piece of Salt.
She instructs us, that in order to survive we have to find shelter within - as we do not have the privilege in identifying with land. In fact water has been our home!
As the final monlogue ensues, it reminds me of the ancestral moment in Black Panther - I look over at my brother and reflect the personal turmoil we have encounted living in London.
Our Woman is drowning at sea. It is her Gran, the most recent ancestor who pushes her back – back into the body... back into the world, and back onto this land with purpose.
My reflection deepens. And I sit there, my brother to my right, my history infront, massaging my own Rose Quartz around my neck. I start to wonder whether the pink Crystal Salt blocks were strategically used – as it represents love and forgiveness.
I start to wonder whether my late-grandmother has been my encouragement and guide to speak up and out?
And the strength behind "pushing back" the violent waves that try me... try to drown me... into conformity, their normality.
Her name... my grandmother?
C(h)rystal of course.
Overall Story/ Acting