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  • Chris O'Reilly

Gothenburg Award winner Helena Engberg takes on Wandsworth

Helena Engberg and PotatoPotato Performing Arts take their show ‘Sincerely Solo’ to the Wandsworth Fringe this weekend after winning the Gothenburg London exchange Award last year.

Helena was generous with her time as she spoke to us about the development of the performance, which focuses on the concept of single life in modern society, since its debut at Gothenburg Fringe 2017, her experience of the event and where the show goes from here.

After touring the show around Sweden and abroad, the overriding emotion ahead of the performances The Arches at St Mary's Church on 11 and 12 May is one of anticipation.

“I’m very excited to perform at Wandsworth, meet another audience and to see how it will be received in London.”

Helena, one of five artistic directors in PotatoPotato, is up on stage alone, but in this DJ mix where the individual is examined practically, emotionally, politically and personally with the use of sync and offbeat, it is not a purely personal piece.

“In one sense it is a personal work, as I’m a solo performer, a product of an industry around relationships, standing there, saying ‘hey I’m single and have been for 10 years’ and give my views on it. However, as we always do at PotatoPotato, we choose a topic and research it a lot, so we describe the huge change in the way we’re living, not just the story of Helena Engberg.”

Part of the plan

Having performed ‘Sincerely Solo’ so often since its award-winning preview last September, the piece has evolved a lot ahead of her appearance in Wandsworth, but it has not come as a surprise.

“The performance has developed over time, but that was part of the plan we had. It’s the first time we tried putting the DJ on stage and use their equipment as the body for the performance.

“We adjusted the show for the Gothenburg Fringe, then moved it to Malmö, where we developed the performance, worked with the room and with the experiences we got from the audience to tell the story and exploring what is singlehood in 2018.”

When presenting a set of ideas and views to a new audience, their reaction is the one great unknown. However, Helena explains that the discussions she has had with audience members has filled her with confidence in the show and the way

PotatoPotato decided to present the single as a subject.

“We realised that the ideas we presented in this DJ mix first felt as quite naïve, bold and brave, turned out to be relatable to people, even those in relationships, which is a confirmation of what we have created.”

“There is not one answer to this topic in the show, rather a variety of perspectives.”

Full of heart and surprises

‘Sincerely Solo’ went down a treat at Teater Trixter at last year’s event and Helena’s experience has left her wanting to see and experience more of what Fringe has to offer.

“We had a great time at Gothenburg Fringe. Such a warm festival and a hospitable environment, Teater Trixter was such a great host. It’s full of heart and surprises, you don’t really know what to expect.”

“The Fringe movement creates a certain playful energy. The environment allowed us to connect with a variety of performing artists and you come away with the feeling like you wished you had time to see a lot more.”

Anyone wishing to see more of Helena and ‘Sincerely Solo’ this Friday and Saturday in London can find full details and tickets here, but those outside of London will certainly have another opportunity to experience this project which has plenty of life left in it.

“We’re also going to Riga in June with Sincerely Solo. The show is part of a programme which I’ve been developing called Comtemporary Performing Beats.

“We recently previewed the club version and we will also try out the material on digital channels. We will hopefully continue touring in in 2019, but I’ll also need a few weeks away from the presenting the world of dating and being single, where I can simply DJ at a club without a text,” concludes Helena, who is a techno/electro DJ known as Femte.

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