Skip to content

Moments of Weightlessness – devised solo show

Pianist, inventor and performer Sarah Nicolls developed her unique ‘Inside-Out Piano’ to explore the belly of the instrument and to coax out some of its hidden sounds. In this solo show, she explores the extraordinary unexpected characteristics of the instrument, moving it around the stage to gradually reveal her parallel journey into motherhood. See this monumental piano in surprising motion, hear the beautiful melodies and textures of Sarah’s piano-songs mixed with stories of creativity, and contemplate the moments of life where everything seems to stand still.

This show was supported by Arts Council England, and was originally commissioned by Brighton Dome as part of earsthetic 2014.  The creative team were: Lou Cope – Dramaturg, Janine Fletcher – Movement Director, Chris Umney – Lighting Designer, Becca Ellson – Script Editor, Simon Hendry – Sound Designer

Here’s a 20-minute edit of the show. N.B. there’s ONE CRUCIAL LINE missing: just before I swing the piano, I do explain that Stan woke up the next day having pulled out his tubes and started breathing on his own…

Moments of Weightlessness: 20 minute edit from Sarah Nicolls on Vimeo.

In 2015-16, Moments of Weightlessness toured to:

Sat 28 Nov: Oxford Contemporary Music; Thurs 3 Dec: Gulbenkian, Canterbury; Fri 4 Dec South Street, Reading; Fri 19 Feb: Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham University; Sat 20 Feb: Colchester Arts Centre; Sat 27 Feb: University of York; Tue 24 May: Brighton Festival; Sun 10 July: Cheltenham Festival

Review in The Argus by Kirsty Levett

Brighton Dome Corn Exchange, Church Street, Wednesday December 10 (First published Thursday 11 December 2014 in The Critic)

Sarah Nicolls_Moments_Argus_credit Tony Wood

Combining a narrative of motherhood with groundbreaking experiments in piano playing, Sarah Nicolls has created a masterpiece of performance art.

Light-hearted and delicate though never glib, Moments of Weightlessness had much to convey with regards to a person’s complete immersion into their experiences.  The inside-out piano was an Erard straight-strung grand, upturned to meet the keys at a 90-degree angle.  With its extraordinary, complicated anatomy confronting the audience, Nicolls played a soundtrack of her own composition that was contemporary and innovative without sacrificing the generous, arching drama of classical style.

With the aid of a crank, the instrument was swiftly rotated. Imagine Chopin – there are no instantly recognisable female precedents – lying on the floor, playing Ballade In G Minor sideways with his leg in the air to reach the pedal, occasionally springing up to meet a child’s constant needs.  The depiction of the absurdity to be found in combining the roles of pianist and mother could not have been delivered with more acuity than it was in Nicolls’ physical work.

The personal narrative was one striking feature. The transformation of piano from percussion to string instrument, from imposing musical apparatus to child’s plaything created something special indeed.

Inside Out Piano @ TONE Festival, June 2014 from Sarah Nicolls on Vimeo.