Sunday, 6 March 2011

performancemarks has moved to a new address

I am at last re-activating this blog at it its new address:
Click on the title above to find my new home
And Thank You for your interest....

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

'white man's burden' at edinburgh, 19th august

our show will be at edinburgh for one performance only as part of the Critical Incident Edinburgh day of events...
1700-1800, wednesday 19th august
at The Melting Pot, 5 Rose Street, Edinburgh
for full programme information and booking:

see also:

created by mark trezona & martyn duffy
performed by mark trezona with the audience
soundscape by martyn duffy
video artist ~ vivienne harris
photography ~ tanya harris
graphic design ~ sue ridge
‘Preface’ to Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads with a Few Other Poems performed by martyn duffy
Lt Col Tim Collins’ Our Business Now Is North address to his troops performed by vivienne harris
Rudyard Kipling’s The White Man’s Burden performed by jasper harris and rosa harris
Mark Doty’s Citizens performed by mark trezona
Barack Obama’s 2009 Inauguration Address performed by himself
alchemy aspires to make rich experience out of the ingredients
of live performance & audience memory and imagination.
alchemy tries to make exceptional experience happen
in the space where performance and audience combine.
alchemy is the performance~making wing of
BridgeBuilders STG Ltd., who create learning that aims
to help build a world of happier people who thrive on change
and inspire the people around them.
Programme Notes from Critical Incident Brighton 2009
Yoko Ono’s 1965 action Cut Piece, in which she sat motionless on the stage after inviting the audience to come up and cut away her clothing, inspires this performance.
Our performance began as a protest against the collusion and lack of responsibility for the damage and destruction that continues to be perpetuated by white men in suits. Two hundred years ago William Wordsworth wrote his fears of a new urban, industrial society's mass media and mass culture threatening to blunt the human mind's "discriminatory powers" and to "reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor”. And look at us now…But our ‘white man in a suit’ must also bear our own culpability:the ‘suit’ we are giving to the audience to cut is a presence caught inside the tensions of our time, between the generalised certainties of what our media and our own biases might have us believe and the more complex ambiguous personal realities of individual men, their intentions and their actions. For this reason we have set our re-imagining of Ono’s original performance standing, rather than sitting, and inside a soundscape of alpha-male voices: ~Barack Obama stepping up to the Presidency, ~the newly resigned Speaker of the House of Commons, ~bankers and Lords passing blame back and forth, ~Rudyard Kipling and Lt Col Tim Collins’ rallying calls to duty, ~ Mark Doty, a gay poet trying to live well through road rage in New York city. These voices have been chosen for their contemporary immediacy and contradictions: hope and catastrophe, new possibility and irredeemable ruin, wonder and terror.

What began with identity has become all about burden: the onerous burden on Barack Obama’s shoulders of all that responsibility and all our hopes, cut through with the loaded expectation to ‘stand up and be a man’; the weight of ‘America’ in our lives and of Doty’s held rage, cut through with the burdens of citizenship and the civil responsibilitywe all bear and the media bears as a public service; the oppressiveness / oppression of western male domination, still deadly in his smart 21st century suit of apparent liberalism,still owning and wielding and maintaining power, cut through with recognition that surface appearances must always be deceptive, and individual men can want and do good things.

To all of this -and all the other things a man in a suit can mean - we offer to the audience to cut.And it is their coming up on the stage that makes the performance itself, and determines how much this is a show of destruction and/or creation.In this performance we are asking: what happens when we offer a man in a suit to an audience to cut? The answers are up to the people in the room on the day...
brighton, 19th may 2009

5 ***** review of this performance from Chris Hislop, fringe review

a huge thank you to our very creative audience for making this show with us such an exceptional experience.

we're looking for a way to make the show in london now - watch this space as they say...

footage of yoko ono's original 'cut piece' in a video presentation of her work

'gravity sucks' - simon faithfull @ bfi southbank gallery

a completely delightful whimsical exhibition that reminded us of the same irrepressible will to flight that we saw in anca & alex's goldsmiths show.

*** Bobby Baker's Diary Drawings: mental illness and me, 1997-2008

at Wellcome Collection

stunning wonderful potent enlightening rich funny appalling extraordinary exceptional exhibition

Friday, 31 July 2009

'jerusalem' by jez butterworth (w. mark rylance)


The Royal Court Theatre presents...


Written by Jez Butterworth

10 Jul - 15 Aug

"My dad said he jumped buses. Horseboxes. Jumped an aqueduct once. He was gonna jump Stonehenge but the council put a stop to it."

On St George's Day, the morning of the local county fair, Johnny Byron, local waster and modern day Pied Piper, is a wanted man. The council officials want to serve him an eviction notice, his children want their dad to take them to the fair, Troy Whitworth wants to give him a serious kicking and a motley crew of mates want his ample supply of drugs and alcohol.

Jez Butterworth's new play is a comic, contemporary vision of life in our green and pleasant land. His previous plays for the Royal Court include The Winterling, The Night Heron andMojo.

Director Ian Rickson
Designer Ultz
Mimi Jordan Sherin

Sound Ian Dickinson for Autograph
Stephen Warbeck

Cast includes Jessica Barden, Tom Brooke, Greg Burridge, Lewis Coppen, Mackenzie Crook, Alan David, Aimeé-Ffion Edwards, Lenny Harvey, Gerard Horan, Danny Kirrane, Charlotte Mills, Lucy Montgomery, Sarah Moyle, Dan Poole, Harvey Robinson, Mark Rylance, Barry Sloane

Running time 3hrs 10mins approx, including 2 intervals

We walk in to see a fire curtain showing a faded grubby St George's cross.

A strip of real park turf along the front littered with beer cars Vodka bottles and plastic bags. A couple of stumps - an empty beer glass on one - and a tin water tank.

Or the left a pile of firewood - its neatness in incongruous contrast to the dirty mess around it. and beside it an abandoned old car seat

Vaughan Williams’ 'The Lark Ascending' swells and soars.

The smell of smoke.

15 year old Phaedre comes on dressed as a fairy and sings 2 verses of Jerusalem before being drowned out by loud pounding rock music

The Curtain rises on a party in full swing seen through strobe lighting.


Lights up bright on two community liaison officers official in safety yellow waistcoats surveying the debris and then serving eviction notice from the Council on Rooster and his old silver metal Waterloo caravan. This despite the amplified dog noises Rooster is yelling through his loud hailer

From the first moment of his entrance we are held mesmerised watching him cast his spells over his court of motley youngsters left over from the party - and Ginger who has managed to miss it -and then the locals who are pulled in to his rubbishy drug & alcohol banked camp: the local professor who will wander through and enjoy the Fair day in their company tripping on the acid tabs they've slipped him; the landlord of Cooper 's pub festooned in full Morris Dancer bells and handkerchiefs for the village Fair and who needs to get high for the day to do it; the local bully boy looking for his missing daughter - the 15yr old Phaedre - and promising violence when he finds her.

And Rooster drinks and charms and swaggers and spins his yarns and weaves his magic on us all.

The second act reminds even move of a modern day Falstaff, enveloping his followers with tales of daring and fairytale and drugs and alcohol.

Then the arrival of a little boy Markey - Rooster's son - in place of the giant that might have been summoned by the drum - and his mother who is still caught in her appetite for Rooster and for his whizz despite now having a new man waiting.

Then the third act with the inevitable ostracising and street justice for Rooster before he is left to meet the official justice of the evicting bulldozer, bloodied, branded but defiantly unbowed.

The girls are vacuous and more thinly drawn than the boys and this is very much a play about men with no interest in the women beyond their relations with the main man Rooster and sometimes to other men. Ah me, it was ever thus but this is a frustrating weakness in a play called 'Jerusalem' and aspiring to give us an updated portrayal of England's pleasant pastures green turned unholy in small town small scale corruption. And while it is very funny, a number of the laughs sounded brutal to me - more the collusion of a mob at an easy weakling than the delighted sparkle of sprung enlightenment.

There is nothing especially new in this story. But it's enormous charisma and potency comes from the writing and performance of Johnny "Rooster" Byron. Mark Rylance shows us a man who is mesmerising complex funny frightened fantastical and fierce. He is Falstaff in all his vainglorious boasting, he is Don Juan purring the women into helpless devotion, he is Don Quixote tilting at windmills, the misunderstood outsider, the sensitive friend, the disgusting drunk, the mischievous prankster, the amoral dealer and the brawling thug.

And throughout this three+ hours the balance is held dangerously tight between a recognisably malevolent reality of small town low life and an heroic poetic sweep of the noble epic - pitching the misunderstood and much maligned hero against a world of contemporary monsters.

Great theatre.

So long as you don’t care about the invisibility of the women.

Friday, 26 June 2009


conceived and performed by

Sylvie Guillem, Robert Lepage, Russell Maliphant

Sadlers Wells in association with Ex Machina & Sylvie Guillem

Lighting Designer ~ Michael Hulls

Costume Designer ~ Alexander McQueen

Sound Designer - Jean-Sebastien Cote

Due to phenomenal demand for tickets during its world premiere season at Sadler's Wells earlier in 2009, Eonnagata returns for a limited run.

This brand new Sadler's Wells production brings together three of the world's foremost creative minds: internationally acclaimed dancer
Sylvie Guillem, world-renowned theatre-maker Robert Lepage and award-winning choreographer Russell Maliphant.

tells the story of the Chevalier d'Éon, Charles de Beaumont - diplomat, writer, swordsman and a member of the King's Secret, a network of spies under the control of Louis XV. De Beaumont was perhaps the first spy to use transvestitism in the furtherance of his duties and until the day he died his true gender was a source of constant speculation, even provoking public bets in the late 18th century.

"The alchemist of modern imagistic theatre, Robert Lepage is one of the most challenging and chimeric directors of our time" THE GUARDIAN

For this remarkable collaboration,
Guillem, Lepage andMaliphant draw not only from their respective backgrounds, but also from the ancient Kabuki technique of Onnegata - in which male actors portray female roles in an extremely stylised fashion.

The elaborate costumes of Louis XV's court will be evoked by legendary fashion designer
Alexander McQueen, complemented by stunning lighting from Michael Hulls.

mostly dreadful - i haven't been so bored or cross in a theatre for a very long time.

1. Le Page swinging tin foil swords

2. Guillem telling us the whole Chevalier d'Eon story

3. Maliphant emerging from a giant geisha

4. Long boring bit skidding over tables to Bach

5. Fan dance with Empress of Russia with a large red fan and singing up from bass profundo to soprano shrilling

6. Fighting with a feather quill to a coarse poem & then writing with a sword to her mother then the old lady appears out of the table

7. Twirling sticks

8. Calico shadow show

9. Nice story from "Plarto who we call Plato" about original species with both genders two heads & double arms & legs til Zeus decides to literally cut us down to more manageable size - in half like an apple - and ever since we've been looking for our other half

10. Fighting with ring & stick

11. Short guillotine sequence with a skull head

12. Mirror tables including two tops with one mirrored bottom

13. Post-mortem under a swinging neon light

Lots of great ingredients that never quite manage to come together into anything very wonderful. The costumes are so exquisite and the lighting so visceral it often feels like watching an extra esoteric fashion show. The sound too is great and often dominant & rich enough to satisfy for itself.
there are moments that hold but the narrative interest is pierced by hearing the full story at the start, the spectacle of the scenography is insufficiently spectacular, and the performances are too often too lack-lustre and ordinary to hold so that I was actually bored through several sequences. And in the end it all just didn't add up to much more than very expensive looking flummery.

A sad story of how many talents can end up cancelling each other out.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

'a little night music' (stephen sondheim) ~ meinier chocolate factory @ garrick theatre


Clear clean simple and utterly engaging from the bare set with one chair we walk into see (echoed with outside  chair at start of second half), the simple design ideas - black costumes, interiors in first half in town, white costumes and mostly outdoor scenes for second half in country. The show puts all its trust in its raw materials: the writing, the music (made by a tiny quintet), its songs and its actors. The sense of shadows and memory whispers through it with the quintet chorus of Missuses & Misters singing through the younger rememberances and providing a perpetual observation of the foolish love tangles of the protagonists (the programme notes point out the repeated use Sondheim has made of outside observation in his shows). So the words all arrive with an easy freshness and potency and - like the Jude Law Hamlet - gives us a world and its people who make complete sense - merely the slightest lift rather than any great leap of faith needed to enter here.


Maureen Lipman's grande old courtesan is a masterclass in less-is-more timing and energy: everything she says arrives in your lap for your enjoyment perfectly formed and still very much alive, and even the familiar lines sound newly spoken. Around her central imperious stillness, the rest of the company convince and pull us lightly through their stories, even though this is wholeheartedly theatrical: all the characters sing directly out to us (again in much the same form as the Hamlet soliloquies) and the period grandness and highly coloured romanticism of the story are all exquisitely shown so we are never being duped into thinking this is real life, but we are able to float easily inside it like we might through music - simultaneously conscious and unconscious of its artfulness.

It is funny and beautiful and poignant and wistful. And sweetly irrelevant except for two moments of great sadness in 'Every Day A Little Death' and 'Send In The Clowns' (which we understood literally for the first time: when there's been an accident at the circus like a fall from the trapeze, the clowns get sent on). 

Lovely birthday treat.