Artist Spotlight: Yael Elisheva

We met up with the Dysbiosis team again for a second week of R&D at Queens Theatre Hornchurch two weeks ago. Our third spotlight is on theatremaker, physical performer, drag artist, drama facilitator and many more things Yael Elisheva. They often work in Jewish spaces and use their artistic practice as a means of examining Jewish culture and religion.

Photo: Hannah Davies

What is your relationship with nature?

In my work, I play with found objects and explore how they can be used unconventionally and with multiple purposes. I grew up observing the sabbath, which gave me a strong connection to nature and rest and play. In today’s Western society – our relationship with rest is often viewed as lazy. I’d love to challenge that and offer rest as a means of rejuvenation for our planet.

How do queerness and nature intersect?

When I first heard of different animals and plants that are constantly changing genders like oysters and mushrooms, I felt so validated in my own gender expression. 

How does your heritage influence the way you view/value nature?

As a jew, I have rituals and prayers that revolve around nature and gratitude for nature. I have been specifically interested in how the Jewish sabbath embodies an attitude of rest which allows nature to rest as well. 

Were any aspects of the project new to you (e.g. devising collaboratively, doing an R&D, working with a designer-led company) and if so, what did you expect coming in?

I absolutely loved working with artists of different mediums who brought their practice and cultural heritage to the creation process. I learned of other practices that were similar and different to mine. I also learned more about nature and fungi and started to develop artistic ways to investigate topics. This time round, we went even deeper and had a familiar devising language, so it felt like what was coming out of us had stronger roots and clearer opinions.

In your own words, what is devised theatre? And how did it apply in this project?

In theory, everything is devised theatre. We start from an idea and build on it from there. In this project particularly, we always began with research, debates, and dialogue then pulled from those ideas to collaborate and create various pieces. 

How do you find the sharing process at the end of the R&D weeks?

The sharing project revealed to me how much I loved collaborating with all these artists and truly how lucky I was to be in that space. I think there are many visual and written aspects to the piece, and I am eager to continue to explore more of the body and how it rests as our bodies are nature. 

What have you learned about the local area in Hornchurch? 

While I’m not originally from the local area, my grandparents and extended family have lived in Ilford for generations. It is reinvigorating to connect to the local land and learn about the history of how the Thames used to cut through all the way to Hornchurch. I’ve been told that there are pebbles left over from that time. 

Tell us about a project you are working on at the moment that excites you. 

I am currently running a series called Drunk Parsha, where improvisers create a show based on a Jewish comedian’s drunken retelling of a bible story. In fact, there is a Drunk Parsha coming up on December 20th at The Network Theatre in Waterloo. Get your tickets here:

Could you recommend a book, artwork or music related to the themes in Dysbiosis?

Wilderness by Carl Sandburg

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