Treasure and Tat by Joel O'Donoghue


Everyone’s homes are full of bits of treasure, disguised as tat. These objects may not mean anything to anyone else, and they may not be worth a penny, but to their owners they have tremendous sentimental value. This is usually because, attached to each of these items, is a story. 

Over the last few months choreographer Joel O’Donoghue has been collecting some of these stories. He has led movement workshops and interviewed people via a range of charities and community groups, such as London Bubble Theatre Company, South London Cares, Time and Talents, and Dancing to The Music of Time. He has documented all of the participants’ stories on his online blog :

Treasure and Tat is a compilation of work based on the different stories Joel has collected.

“One story that I particularly liked was Lucy's box of childhood memories. The box includes scrapbooks, photographs and medals from when she was a child. The medals she received where awarded to her by her primary school in recognition of her curtesy, and for best supporting actress in her school play as King Louie in The Jungle Book. One thing she remembers doing particularly well as a supporting actress was mouthing the words to a pre-recorded song. She told me that in hindsight she didn't think her costume was very politically correct.”


Joel’s artistic objective:

“When creating work I want to make something that is gripping for an audience, but without them necessarily understanding why. As such, my work is often a contradiction in terms. It is incredibly physical, but places an equal emphasis on subtle gestural moments and outlandish exaggerations of pedestrian action. It moves seamlessly from the minimalist, to the fantastic, to the completely nonsensical. This juxtaposition, though bizarre, provokes a sort-of understated humour by coaxing the audience into an acceptance of the inexplicable, and delight in the non sequitur.

I have a background both in dance and set design, and I am interested in finding ways of adapting work to new environments. Over the past year I have been collaborating with a lighting designer, a sound designer and a composer, to see if we could create a mutual coexistence between movement, light and sound. The three different elements should work in harmony together, whilst also being independent from one another - like a conversation.

I believe that each of the works I create are accidentally linked to past experiences of mine. In 2003 I had a brain tumour removed from my left temporal lobe, which badly affected my aural and visual memory. The different works I create are like a journey through my own forgotten past. I recently discovered that a work I choreographed in 2014, was heavily inspired by my grandparents.”

+ more