Inspired by myths, legends and rituals from Scotland and beyond, Dreams of the Small Gods at Summerhall (Demonstration Room) follows the mesmerising journey of an awoken woman who traverses animal, human and divine spirits. The show, produced by Scissor Kick, is included within the Made in Scotland Showcase and won the Autopsy Award for Summerhall 2022.
Created and performed by Zinnia Oberski with dramaturgy from Ellie Dubois, the performance moves at a gradual pace, effectively conjuring a unique visceral experience that feels somehow shared within the collective of a captivated audience.
Zinnia Oberski inhabits the spirits she portrays with astounding success, having complete control over her body and movements. Oberski transforms the performance space and creates a tangible atmosphere within it, which evolves as the piece progresses.
The atmospheric space of the old veterinary demonstration room worked perfectly for Dreams of the Small Gods, heightening a sense of exhibition akin to the operating theatre or the circus. The varying height of the venue’s seating and the altitude of Oberski’s aerial performance played with conventional configurations of animals, humans, and “those we name as our Gods”. Ultimately, all three are manifested within (a) woman, instilled with the glory of each.
There were brief moments where the lighting or sound seemed to work against the atmosphere generated within the space, but generally the performance was cohesively and thoroughly transportive. Chris Gorman’s sound design delivered ASMR moments as well as immersive soundscapes, while Ian Cookie Brooks’ lighting design followed the protagonist’s journey through hazy beginnings and empowered becomings. The deity mask by Emily Martinelli is beautifully crafted and exudes power.
If you’re looking to experience a beautiful piece of aerial artistry or a performance that explores what lies beyond (or rather, within) the human, Dreams of the Small Gods brilliantly provides a spectacular display while inspiring an embodied connection to human and non-human spirituality.