Monday, 8 December 2008
nicely lit in summer at the seaside
as is often the case, the unholy mess of Toby, Mary, Aguecheek, Feste and Malvolio were the highlights
not sure why this production was made - nice and good and perfectly formed and pretty and clear and easy - a sort of posh panto for the season perhaps
Monday, 1 December 2008
MA in Sound Arts graduate show
University of the Arts : London College of Communication
Venue: I M T,
Unit 2/210 Cambridge Heath Road,London, E2 9NQ
Contact: 020 8980 5475 (for booking)
Sound art encompasses a wide range of forms and concerns and has its precedence across many creative fields, yet, as these artists demonstrate, the acknowledgment of sound’s significance in the arts is becoming of greater importance as technologies develop, and as the public become ever more aware of the interactions between sound, space and artistic practice.
Audio Forensics provides an extraordinarily comprehensive inquiry into how sound, and its manipulation, influences our experience and understanding of our environment.Audio Forensics is an exhibition and symposium presenting the final work of the first MA Sound Arts graduates of London College of Communication. The groundbreaking work in the exhibition demonstrates the high level of critical debate in sonic disciplines fostered by the university’s Department of Sound Art and Design since 1998.
The exhibition is co-curated by Electra and IMT
Artists & Exhibits:Libero Colimberti ~ Frame 2008
Short film (7mins)
A sound film installed in the bathroom and projected backwards through various reflections on to tiles, walls and ceiling showing a digital clock countdown from 7.00.00mins and subtitles of what is being heard - sometimes in the form of a script, as in (passerby) you won't kill yourself jumping from that height. The sound sweeps us through a huge narrative of a fight between two lovers with him on the ledge threatening suicide - gripping and for a time compelling in the possibility that we are about to actually hear someone die. Being locked away listening to this in the bathroom is perfect - simultaneously safely away from the conflict going on 'outside' and redolent with imagined self-violence - pills, drowning, razor blades, broken glass to cut with, slippery surfaces to fall from …
Jan Hendrickse ~ Harmonic Motion: Composition for Prepared Bass Guitar and Fans 2008
Prepared bass guitars and fans
Quirky and gentle and fun - i loved having to go 'looking' for its sound hidden within the sweep of sound i had already triggered from Dear Dust
Simone Izzi ~ The Emperor's Mind 2008
Mixed media installation http://www.simoneizzi.com/home.php
Nitin Lachhani ~ Bhagvapad 2008 Polymer rapid prototype 232mm x 350mm x 10mm; Gautam 2008 100% Dense titanium rapid prototype and vero white, 200mm x 200mm x 100mm; Brhaspati 2008 Glass, polyurethane resin, iron filings, 500mm x 500mm x 10mm
Luc Messinezis ~ Wunderkammer: The Sound Cabinet of Curiosities 2008
Sound installation http://www.artselector.com/collective/directory/audio/Sonologik/
Maria Papadomanolaki ~ Trajectory 2008
Performance; video documentation
An intriguing and captivating piece that we loved and that i’ll have to come back to write about when i have time:
audience in gallery – different people wearing headphones and microphone walking to gallery describing what they see and following text instructions from the gallery.
Vytis Puronas ~ Dear Dust 2008
Interactive video projection and sound http://www.superfield.org/
sound of breathing that for me was all about the sound of the sea and kinaesthetically worked its image of floating 'dust' and wind-blown hair watching it with the fan blowing the guitar sounds
Mark Shorey ~ 8.5 2008
Mixed media installation; video documentation
the image for the poster is from 8.5 and see his video documentaion on his website @ http://www.peace.talktalk.net/PEACE.html
Mark Peter Wright ~ A Quiet Reverie 2008
Headphone installation (18mins) http://www.a-quiet-reverie.blogspot.com/
The star of the show for us – an exceptional experience for all the fullness and its space it gives in the listening.
A table with four clear plastic 'coffins' each containing dried materials from the four ruined sites and perched up on soil from them - leaves feathers stone shell flowers berries cones - all dry and dead but still resonating with remembered-imagined life
The 18 min 'psycho phonography' moves and moves us through a fragile deeply felt sonic narrative that for me was an oscillation of flickering images, fleeing associations and pooled moments of intense presence. The sounds move through ‘stone’ ~ a sort echoed resonant cascade of resonating troubled air - or the noise of ‘dust’ banging (to steal language from another exhibit) - through ‘water’ ~ coming in soft rain which we can know and name but without losing any magic from this literal recognition and making its narrative of 'textured time' (to steal language again) ~ listening in to water moving and feeling both the heightened immediacy of each water soundfall and simultaneously the inexhaustible stretched out continuum of time beyond life, lives, living. Then 'wing' and the choral backchat of birdsong going abrasive and scarring and making me think of living systems of immortal species as the uncaring witnesses to human insubstantiality and transience. Then through 'blood' ~ a swelling of sound rushing throbbing bringing up a sonorously chiming alarm coming through a crackle of rainfall that I first took to be fire ~ and lastly 'mouth' ~ we hear an echo of monks chanting or perhaps just the endlessly repeated prayers echoing back to us from the stone and then a slow ebbing abandonment into pulsating absence.
And I hand over the headphones emotionally charged and emotionally changed.
extracted from Mark’s book of ‘A Quiet Reverie’
A quiet reverie investigates the ruined abbeys of North East England, and creates a sonic experience from the architecture, space, and surrounding natural environment.
The work extends the practice of phonography into a dynamic and acoustically creative portrayal of time and journey through space and site. I will use the term ‘psycho phonography’ to label my practice and define it as a perceptual appreciation of field recording rather than an ecological or documental one.
By relocating, transferring and manipulation recordings from the ruined abbeys, the work connects each location in a metaphorical and sonic chain. It explores sounds inherent ability to spill between time and sense and into other perceived realms and modes of perception and listening.
A Quiet Reverie is a psycho phonographic sound piece, a mode of of aural imaginary awakening.
extracted from Mark’s research poster
* A subjective absence in the sound is necessary to encourage a deeper sonorous listener
* Do ruins contain traces of sonic past? As poetic & compositional tool yes. In places of ruin or abandonment a perpetual & psychological space exists for the listener to complete, the journey to complete this absence is the soundscape narrative
B J Nilsen, The short night
Chris Watson, Stepping into the dark
Hilgegarde Westerkamp, Transformations
Richard Skelton, Landings Steven Peters, Hereings
Date: 30 NOVEMBER
Time: 15:00-18:00 RSVP
Symposium in which Steven Connor *, Professor of Modern Literature and Theory at Birkbeck,
and sound artist David Toop**, Visiting Professor at the University of the Arts London and Senior Research Fellow at the Sound Arts & Design Department of the London College of Communication http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=112997086 address issues of sonic practice raised by Audio Forensics.
* see Steven's lecture @ http://www.bbk.ac.uk/english/skc/earroom/earroom.pdf
** replaced Ben Borthwick, Assistant Curator at Tate Modern
Steven Connor: Ear Room
Seated. Listening. In session. Seance.
Hearing seems different to sight and touch and taste and smell
Hear from where the sounds are rather than where we are – sound occupies & evacuates
Sound Space. We can hear textures qualities inside things
Ventriloquism - how fragile & volatile our sense of sound space is - when it really counts we are very poor at hearing well
Unlike vision not immediately intelligible – hearing asks questions – which we then often seek to answer by the eye
Cartesian Grid - pinpoint - the ideal of point of view. There can only be a corresponding point of audition in most optimistic sense. Lines or fields of sight. Ears far less able to pinpoint - sound and we are multiple positioned through them
‘I am All Ears’ – we hear through distribution not convergence. You cannot sleep on both ears at once. There is no listening post: listening is listing & leaning
And sounds don't stay still – the eye commands space – the ear occupies – the ear makes room
Ear Room title of this lecture
We use Germanic words for animals & Latin words for cooked equivalents
Germanic for body parts - Latin for ‘cooked body’ like ‘mortality’
Germanic for raw corporeal ‘thing’ and ‘feeling’ – Latin for ‘object’ & ‘sensation’
In the dual coding: Latin ‘space’ is for sound; Latin ‘room’ is for sight: What becomes of ‘auditory space’ when one translates it into ‘ear-room’?
Space ready for occupation, able to be modified, presents a vacancy, defined from the outside in. Room inhabited, defined from the inside out, can be easily co-joined 'leg-room'
No relation direct between sound & hearing: the ear comes & goes with what it's hearing. Sight however automatically makes what sees an ‘object’
John Hull writing about going blind in ‘Touching the Rock’ “When you are blind, a hand suddenly grabs you. A voice suddenly addresses you. There is no anticipation or preparation. There is no hiding round the corner. There is no lying low. I am grasped. I am greeted. I am passive in the presence of that which accosts me. I cannot escape it … For the blind person, people are in motion, they are temporal, they come and they go. They come out of nothing, they disappear”
For the eye there is always a scene, whether seen or unseen. For the ear there is either something audible or there is nothing – there is no place in which to repose.
We can hear textures tonalities tensions time - sound energies intensities
Tonic - muscle & musicality
Space is free; a room costs.
In gallery ear-space must accommodate within eye-space. Ear-Room is only what & when it is made, which is why it can so easily escape the gallery. Ear-Room insists on a blind here & now
Sound is always in a state of becoming & disappearing - so perhaps my unpreparedness for this is good
Readings from my notebook beginning 6th august
Trip to Marfa Sessions, Texas made famous by Donald Judd
Space used to inter German soldiers in WWII - Chinati Foundation - space for work to be made in http://www.chinati.org/visit/missionhistory.php
Christina Kublish (?)- nothing to see - abandoned building to listen to sound in - 'memory room' closed factories abandoned farms - old barn with abandoned tools
Memory room with no clues - just sounds of digital production - up to listener to make own meaning
Silent but Poem by Sugasi (?) b. 1889 anti war imprisoned for being
Cormach McCarthy: The Road
“The blackness I awoke with on those nights ...
Dickens – “many people unhappy to spend night in church - because of the roaming wind …”
A musical instrument is a small room - sound can linger - dispersing into air
the Confessional - grille like amplifier to image-less ear – talking into ear of god
Kafka: “Everyone carries a room inside them ... rattling of mirrors”
In America the sound of the trains is so romantic, mythic but it wakes me in the night – both absorbing & irritant
a rich woman shows me her hearing implant – “it’s no good for listening to classical music but fine for experimental …”
Donald Judd - huge library with few music books except eg Glass. And bagpipes he learned to play. (And music collection)
S - two poles sound is moving between - sound art is changing - we can capture & see sounds more easily now
D - previously sound recorded though text, oral tradition, painting, sculpture … very few writers on paintings refer to sound because outside their discipline? because the sound is no longer there? A difficulty of sound art having to squat in others’ rooms, houses. Best sound art when it completely accepts the contexts they move in with. How do you reveal the work to audience?
A(udience) - Idea frm Greek 'to see' - system of thought grown in sight not sound
S - But oral cultures are violent formulaic conservative very resistant to variation from norms - obedience comes from need to hear - change requires ability to put things down. Have just read a new dissertation on use of sound in torture
D – Should be wary of idealising silence – silence can easily make people uncomfortable - many examples of silence that is oppressive - censoring - power
A - In our culture do we (over)separate sound, sight & tactile sensing? - sound calls for use of memory
D - work with auditory artist - you work to her requirements.
A – reading Mark Cuzens - thought was born by Greeks when we could write and free brains for new thinking
S - animals are all memory - I look forward to not needing any memory.
A - Writing music has led to incredible architecture of sound - exact notation leads to conservativism vs. lack of notation leads to conservativism. Fixedness allows you to go somewhere else
S - writing preserves fantasy of permanence
A - Stanley Fish - always subjective - the work is made at moment of reading
(Me thought - sound must always be moving whereas sights can be more seemingly still - or we move - or what we're looking at moves)
D - does recording fix something that's not meant to be fixed? What sound does best is texture time rather than pure time - how would we know this without sound? In a film, sound is the plasma that holds things together. Beckett thought the silent film had demised too soon. We exist in space time
D – this idea is too much for me to grasp in one thought – need to separate each idea to get sense of space time.
see a blog review of this exhibition at http://www.fadwebsite.com/2008/11/26/audio-forensics-ambitious-works-by-nine-artists-who-employ-sound-to-open-at-imt/#more-2582
Thursday, 27 November 2008
Saturday, 22 November 2008
DON JUAN. KDO?/Don Juan.WHO?
from cyber space to theatre space
A poetic, complex, simple, intelligently directed performance, bounding in
eroticism and desire… Don Juan. Who? is a unique piece. Marjana
Ravnjak TV SLOVENIA
Complex, complicated, and totally simple at the same time…very sincere, full of
passion and love...fascinating….More performances of this kind! Amelia Kraigher
An unusual, provocative performance that both avoids and employs
cliches. Gregor Butala DNEVNIK, Slovenia
The performance is even more provocative when it ventures into existential,Following sell-out performances at Mladinsko Theatre, Ljubljana and previews at the Shunt Vaults, the production is at Riverside Studios for 4 performances only as part of FeEast Festival 2008.
erotic, sexual extremes….a kind of melancholic aura..a kind of transcendental
dimension..reaches beyond the known, the verified and the
expected. Blaz Lukan DELO, Slovenia
Post-show chaired by Nick Flood
18months in cyber space
Sunday evening - every - turn up and improvise in cyber space -anonymity of being able to imagine I was a man
We were sure we know who wrote what lines and always we were wrong
What really worked was setting a theme. Vomitic work - the process obliges you to work with interruption: there are sentences that have been written by more than one voice - ego-less creation
I had to learn to type
Lost two who couldn't cope with process
We had to meet religiouly two hours every sunday - we had to do this to make the work - very dedicated work - this was a a deliberate strategy to try to respond to the new financial restriction on making work
We could pretend to be the boss
Then 3 and half months rehearsal
I am used to speaking english even with my mistakes - English is the language of the western world - when I speak a language I think that language
All we wrote was in english and then translated most into slovenian
I was not part of the writing and Anna gave me a lot of artistic freedom - everything i did was entirely responsive to the text using my own physical vocabularies
Alot of work taking a scrap of text an applying physical language we had made together - the structure came very late in process
We had reading list and films we watched etc
Someone wrote a wonderful parody of the byron don juan for us and this became a key reference - it's there in the work but even more its about the don juan in our minds
What is hell for you?
just an invention a special place we can go running off to - another woman
Men and women who still can't talk to each other - I don't subscribe to an idea of post-feminism - we haven't achieved what feminism reached for yet
What did you miss from this process?
Embarrassment -all the social issues that come up when people are in the same space together by being So well- masked you could become unmasked a lot- of nakedness
Would you do it again?
Don Juan. Who? as a performance.
Don Juan. Who? is a ‘timeless scenario where sexual politics are sweated out on a red carpet’ by an ensemble of seven and a supporting pillow-throwing chorus of several more. It begins with an evocation of Venus and Vulcan: from out of the darkness we see a welder, masked and stooped over the sparks of his work: Vulcan, god of fire and metalworking. We watch a naked man approaching from behind, embracing and undressing the welder, who naked is revealed to be a woman: Venus, unfaithful wife of Vulcan and goddess of love, beauty and fertility. ‘She downs her tools, reluctantly yields to him.’ And this non-verbal opening scene contains and signposts the potency, contradictions and deceptions that this theatre will show us: the story of relationships between men and women is never straightforward nor as obvious as our cliché’s and postmodern savoire faire may beguile us into believing. Don Juan. Who? animates an apparently archetypal Don Juan coupling, and the first words of spoken text - ‘ZELJKO: Seducer / DAMJANA: Seduced’ - establish an emphatic Male v. Female duality. But during the journey from the ‘Dressing Don Juan and his Prey for Seduction’ all the way through to ‘She and He After He Quit’, the simultaneously amplified inner monologues from the Chorus of ‘Her’s and ‘Him’s repeatedly confound the over-easy stereotypes of ‘Him, Tarzan; Her Jane’, and we cannot be sure the roles of ‘Seducer’ and ‘Seduced’ are cast and engendered in stone quite as given. In each of the four Seduction scenes, although we seem to be getting a pretty traditional Alpha male controlling the story and pulling the strings, it is ‘She’ who is actually the protagonist: in ‘Seduction 2’ and ‘Seduction 3’ it is she who makes the moves, and then in the first and last Seduction scenes, she is very much the writer of her own seduction story, almost irrespectively of what he actually does or doesn’t do.
Through its storytelling of this one tale we see and hear the many voices of women and men trying to make sense of how men and women can come together without fighting, what they love, what they want, what they don’t want, what drives them together, what drives them apart. And as might be expected in a show about Don Juan, it appears to be full of male and female archetypes and cliché’s. And the play is deliberately structured with heavy gender scorings, both in the language - ‘TANYA: She’s made of her childhood dreams that pull her on a lead like a dog. / MATEJ + ZELJKO: In the same way his dick does.’ - and performatively with the men’s team lining up around ‘Don Juan’ and the women around ‘Her’ from the start.
But, of course, to be interesting and new this play must, and does, show us that things cannot be what they initially seem or are expected to be from the Don Juan branding. This complexities illustrated in the symbolic opening are woven throughout and into this show, revealing the first appearances of superficial and almost careless familiarity to be a mirage of deeper patterns of much richer and contrary counterpoints and opposites: ‘She’ is not given the authority of a name, but this apparent disempowerment means also that she can never be fully pinned down (as well as giving the audience our ‘everywo(man)’ entry into the story); ‘She’ talks about appearance, ‘He’ talks strategy, but it is the women who continually provide the dynamic propulsion for the story and demand progress and action, the men’s talk being more fixed on results and outcomes whether actually realised or merely fantasised. And the voiced inner thoughts often let us in to hear the errors in supposed certainties, and test our own assumptions, such as ‘His’ sureness that ‘She’ is obsessed with ‘Him’, when in fact she is more often obsessed with ‘Herself’, and that being Don Juan is all about domination and conquests: and in ‘A Drag King Dong Juan’ we hear that ‘Her’ fantasy Don Juan is about being herself rather than conquests and being dominant: ‘GIOVANNA: I don’t want to feel I have to be bad to be Don Juan. I don’t want to kill anyone. / TANYA: no no no / GIOVANNA: I don’t want to control any body … I want this person to love me though.’
Textural analysis of this play brings constant surprises, such as finding in the seeming equal spread of ‘His’ and ‘Her’ words quite unequal preoccupations in that ‘His’ thoughts are spread between thinking about himself and projecting what he is sure ‘She’ is thinking, whereas ‘Her’ thoughts are almost entirely about ‘Herself’ and rarely does she talk out thoughts about him. In the final scene, ‘Friends Re-united.com’, we hear ‘Her’ finally get her happiness and her freedom when ‘He’ throws her out the window: ‘GIOVANNA: And I’m flying / TANYA: Flying / GIOVANNA: Flying / DMAJANA: Flying.’ And still in control of telling her own story.
It is only from the penultimate scene, voiced by ‘Dolores, Don Juan’s Faithful Steed: A Perspective’, that we get to hear anything that sounds possible long term, and a more lasting, mutually dependent and symbiotic relationship is imagined than any the Don Juan mythology leads us into: ‘… He loves me. We’re a team, a pas de deux. I love his jumping out of windows on to my back … I want sparks to fly from my hooves. I want to give Don Juan the world. Reader: I carried him.’
Saturday, 18 October 2008
... maps and journeys .......
an exhibition about breathing with:
Herne Bay Junior School
Betteshanger Brass Band
@ Horsebridge Galleries, Whitstabe
Curated by Jean Fraser
An arts and health project about breath and breathing, the Drawing Breath project is based around a cycle ride during the summer of 2007 searching for oxygen on the Kent and East Sussex coast, and the conversations and conditions encountered on the way - a landscape adventure about survival and what remains possible as we grow older.
there is nothing competitive or hard in this show. it does not boast endurance or mileage or impressive technology. neither does it pretend to find anything that isn’t already there waiting to be found and enjoyed and savoured, so that of brandishing it instead invites you to stop and look and look some more and listen and remember and smile and wonder a few ‘what if’s...’ and breathe a little slower, a little deeper.
les ballets C de la B
"Stoffer is a brave performer who bares both his body and his soul… a deeply
personal experience that reconnects you with your own humanity" THE STAGE
Four people on stage building hollow four-sided towers with wooden bricks - some with words on them and of course I try and put these into meaningful clusters until I remember we are in the strange messed up dimension of aphasia and let the attempt go.
A fifth performer Pietrejan Vervondel arrives in business shirt and tie - there are two towers now each encasing a performer who have to climb their structure to get head & hands above it to catch the new bricks they are being thrown by ‘the businessman’ - the feels wonderfully dangerous and the audience are vocally excited as each new brick is thrown high and mostly caught with varying degrees of threat to the catcher and their tower remaining upright. How special and rare to have this real and live danger in a theatre.
We then see a hand from each performer reach out and across - but not connect - from their tower - and then she finds she can pass bricks from her tower to him to add to his.
Then we get a glorious aphasiac real estate presentation jumbled to be right at the edge of coherency - and how satisfying to be able to pull sense from this delightfully and wittily scrambled volley of words.
He breaks through the back wall.
He climbs the wall to a suspended drum kit, harnesses himself into the seat which he then releases forward - another moment of thrilling peril - and we get raucous surging music with accordion playing girl (Kristyna Lhotakova) in stocking feet and man and woman lying prone and stretched over brick stacks playing trumpet and horn. This makes the background sound for Stoffer's sinewy dislocated head lead movement that seems the physical mirror of the scrambled words - somehow finding a sense and coherency from inverted and inhumanised movements
We also get a number of contact improvisation duets that are fluidly satisfying to watch. And we get achingly intimate and recognisable words with movements from Mieke de Groot who we later see in a very funny duet mime with Yvan Auzely After they have been stripped of their instruments and left alone together by the double-banging drummers Vervondel & Lhotakova.
She then gives us the clearest monologue telling us how much she loves 'him' while he undulates, unfolds and curls under and through the chair and table, before the remaining tower is noisily toppled and cleared and the two of them show us their relationship via a set of tight and variously competing / cooperating dances.
The final sequence is a fast flowing sexy contact duet with Stoffer and Lhotakova joined throughout at the eye & cheek.
This show is packed with ideas and imagery and associations and virtuoso displays interspersed with sudden clear moments of absolute truth and recognition. It is far too clever to leave me more than momentarily absorbed inside it, but the richness of ideas - intellectual and performative - more than justifies this.
Friday, 17 October 2008
What a wonderful joyous funny warm experience was this!
The lights come up in one corner from a blackout to show a tightly clustered group of young performers singing - and instantly we know we are in the company of troubadour players about to make a show for us with just themselves, a few instruments and some motley scraps of cloth they will use for costumes and the many letters that feature through Shakespeare's story. This is his first play and - as with Chekhov's Ivanov - it's great to be able to see so many of the characters and ideas he will recreate again in his later plays: Julia who dresses as man - brilliantly achieved and utterly convincing as a disguise with a stretch of cloth over one eye so attention is grabbed by the disability rather than a sense of recognition - and heads off from Verona to Milan to teach her man how to love (As You Like It); there are balcony scenes (Romeo & Juliet), Julia lists her suitors for her maid to strip of their vanities with gleeful cruelty (The Merchant of Venice), and her initial dismissal of Proteus reminds of Kate and Beatrice; there's a there is even a Friar Laurence.
It is somehow an easy step to accept these young performers as the young lovers – they convey a freshness and vitality that exactly suits Shakespeare’s characters. And something i have never before seen so effectively achieved is the way all the performers step instantly in and away from their characters, so that even those playing leads manage to completely lose every hint of their characters to meld seamlessly into the ensemble. So I found I was even searching for actors who seemed to have disappeared in the chorus scenes, and conversely people I had barely noticed before would suddenly emerge as apparently unmissable large and dynamic presences when they stepped into an individual role.
The staging uses a variety of disciplined simplicity: performers bond together to make human architecture and furniture - seats, walls, doors, headless busts, a balcony, and a dangerous forest is conjured with lighting, a smoke machine and another length of cloth. We get a mimed slow motion duel or contest in the early scenes while Valentine & Proteus are all devoted and true friendship forever more that physically lays out everything the story of these two young Veronese gentlemen will unfold. And we get live music - instrumental and singing - to both move the story on, take us too new places (memorably from Verona to Milan), and to underscore or change the mood.
From start to finish this show vibrates with spirit and exuberance so you feel swept along and caught inside the performers’ zest and drive to bring their story, and yet for all their youthful energy there is nothing amateurish or unfinished and the moments of poignancy and realisation arrive with a crystalline focus that is deeply moving and utterly true. And then just as seamlessly the moment is gone, moved on and we are delighted and laughing again or surfing the story or beaming off the radiant music and movement.
And one more jewel I have to record for permanent remembrance: the performance of the dog is everything this show has encapsulated: truth, humour, discipline, spirit, delight, poignancy, immense fun and quiet understated sadness. Brilliant!
It ends with a final bright song, through which the players take their smiling bows, and then they again converge into their tight and tightly lit ensemble spot - all individuality again extinguished. Blackout and they are gone.
And i'm still glowing from the experience they made for us.
In her new novel, The Room of Lost Things, writer and actor Stella Duffy paints a vivid picture of life in a South London dry-cleaning shop, where secrets and lies are revealed in its customers’ pockets.
Another masterclass from stella - this time in how good a platform conversation can be
Two artists who cared about us and at the same time knew how to look utterly comfortable and at home on a borrowed set on a borrowed stage
Both women shine with charm and fizz with wit and energy. And each have a care for us: adjoa knowing and remembering to explain references when they arise (tv show 'the wire') and always repeating audience questions and so obviously listening in every moment; and stella too clarifying references (walter mosley) and blending her passions (craft rather than art, magic in the mistakes, the need to give a voice to white working class men as much as young british asian men, letting the story find itself) with real and practical advice (for getting published, for writing, for getting started).
i suspect if i hadn’t known stella already i’d have come away believing that i now did, as i came away feeling i’d met adjoa.
if only these two women would be watched and learned from!
p.s. The Room Of Lost Things is a brilliant read!
Friday, 10 October 2008
"A fine merger of illusion, suspense and comedy" THE GUARDIAN
This is a company who are completely sure about what they do how they do it and how they offer it to us in their audience They know when and how to dazzle us with quite awesome spectacle when to tease us a little and let us see their secrets and when - as with the curtain call - to confront us with their perfectly toned human strength, agility and acrobatic dancing
The first half is called the sea of tranquility and is full of whimsy and teasing and subterranean images floating and flying and dangling and dancing and whizzing and rolling through a kaleidoscope of superimposed images of lunar and interstellar spectrums
The rolling jelly fish
The rotating legs
The second half is called the bay of Seething and is much hotter and brighter and sharper and dangerous and angular and starts with birds and then is more plants and insects fighting and feeding and crawling and flying
The zipper insects
The six legged and the four legged spiders
The feathered mouths / wings / flower
The long-winged birds making a crazy waving angular line together
The ghosts that fly through
An easy a show to enjoy and smile through wonderful and surprising enough to hold us mostly captivated through its not quite 2 hours.
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Design - Miriam Buether
Light - Jean Kalman
Music - Abram Wilson
Sound - Fergus O'Hare
Casting - Julia Horan CDG
Movement Direction - Ben Wright
Dialect Coach - Neil Swain
Assistant Direction - Patrice Etienne
Oya dreams of competing alongside star athletes. She never feels so right as when she’s burning up the track.
As a girl she must choose between her dream and caring for her mother.
It’s like I got more love in my hands
With live music from New Orleans trumpeter and vocalist Abram Wilson.
Most of the space is flooded ankle deep
A piano and a drum. A blue plastic crate.
Around the outside motley chairs on a chipboard platform. And us. Audience also above looking down on the reflecting pool. And sitting waiting in an atmosphere of buzzing excitement - the is a large group here tonight that I think are people in Young Vic's facebook group - the bank of audience opposite are reflected in a gentle shiny shimmer.
The performers enter splashing through the water to make a circle - clocking us as they arrive. Oya in the centre. A hum of male voices over which the women's voices start the story chorus style:
"she cried out
... (from memory and probably not accurate)
This is a story of ordinary / extraordinary black people making and living their lives. It includes Okun Size (from McCraney's previous play The Brothers Size) and his trademark storytelling techniques - characters saying their own stage directions, which give them moments of heightened self-awareness; use of song to both add texture and to move the story forward - and in this the New Orleans jazz man Abram Wilson is an integral part of the story - adding musical comment and dueting with Legba, Oya's wisecracking surrogate brother (also from The Brothers Size?).
As well as splash and reflective shine the water gives the place a complicated wrongness: it is both fluid and heavy, it both floats and holds down, it is playful and oppressive. And the performers inhabit and use it with apparent ease, sometimes explicitly for what it actually is, sometimes as if it wasn't there or its being there was the completely normal condition. And of course it has to make us think of New Orleans after the floods.
A problem with this play though is that the moment of greatest tension when Oya has to choose staying at home with her dying mother rather than take up a running scholarship happens early, and from then we watch life happen (literally) around her as she sinks into an increasingly angry realisation of 'this is all there is': her gentle but unfired relationship with Okun Size, her ungentle but haphazard and powerless relationship with the soldier, her inability to conceive while other's babies surround her. And so somehow her final violent act of defiance misses the shock and emotional punch it should have: dramatically it makes sense, visually it convinces, and yet it fails to hit the solar plexus. This might be because for the first time Oya is required to speak her dialogue from off-stage so we know to expect something and noticing this takes us out of the story flow and we are too primed for a theatrical effect; or perhaps it is that the company are still finding their orchestration with the audience and the right build of focus and varying intensities through to this coup de theatre; or it may be the moment needs to have something more arresting from lights and sound? I liked Oya enormously and felt for her throughout so i'm still puzzling about why her moment of greatest pain left me believing but unmoved.
Nevertheless this is again fine storytelling and again at the Young Vic it's a joy to be part of such a diverse, relaxed and spontaneously responsive audience.
McCraney again makes a play that is universal and resonant and enlightening in its themes of trying to make a life less ordinary from ordinary times and moments; and how to live true to your values in a post-modern disaffected world entirely uncaring, unnoticing and ungiving to any sacrifice however virtuous.
Saturday, 4 October 2008
Richard Alston Dance Company
Dance Umbrella 2008
at Sadlers Wells
‘Shuffle It Right’ ...
... Danced to Hoagy Carmichael is all liquid silk and easy charm. It's a delight to watch and I smiled all the way through until the final solo that has a heavier more world-weary feel. Jason Goddard especially is riveting - combing an impossibly easy flowing lightness with a relaxed smile.
This piece is the joyous highlight of my night.
‘The Men In My Life’ ...
... Is intended to display and impress, and this it certainly does. But the bitsy nature of this birthday concert of highlights cannot hope to accumulate any sustained effect: we watch, we enjoy, we applaud. It is what it is: a series of mostly solos duets made for specific dancers:
‘Water Music’ is court majestic
‘Strider’ - danced in silence - presents the men alone and twinned showing off all strength and hold and supple line
‘Petroushka’ is danced to Stravinsky intricate piano played by Jason Ridgeway and both performers are virtuoso - dressed in black and making dark movements
‘Dutiful Ducks’ - created originally for Michael Clark and danced with winning good humour by Jonathan Goddard - is quirky and beguiling danced to a brilliant percussive poem
‘Red Run’ is intimate duet with Pierre Tapon my other favourite dancer from the evening
'Fingerprint' gives Jonathan Goddard a more lyrical movement to use his liquid flow as more of molten flow
‘The Signal’ returns the mood to courtly elegance and formal pomp finally uniting all eight dancers in a short stately chorus line
‘Blow Over’ ...
... Is danced in monochrome black and silver to Phillip Glass in a piece that becomes increasingly exciting. Again Pierre Tapon holds the attention.
Martyn says he enjoyed it somewhat - but lots of flouncing and posing
It's an easy night watching beautiful perfect young men and women moving beautifully to a variety of mostly beautiful music in very tight beautiful and mostly tiny costumes: just what the ballet should be perhaps … It is also what it claims to be: joyous, uplifting and wonderfully rejeuvenating.
Friday, 3 October 2008
Director Carrie Cracknell
Cast Cara Horgan - Hedda Gabler, Cath Whitefield - Julia Tesman, Tom Mison - George Tesman, Alice Patten - Thea Eldridge, Christopher Obi - Toby Brack, Adrian Bower - Eli Longford
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
by Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan
If the Greeks had 14 words to describe different ways of loving, how many dare we experience?
A major new work of dance theatre created by one of the world’s leading dancer/choreographers, Akram Khan, and actress Juliette Binoche.
Throughout their careers, Binoche and Khan have both sought out surprising and daring collaborations. Akram Khan has always taken an inter-disciplinary approach to dance and his collaborators have included Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Antony Gormley and Nitin Sawhney (zero degrees), Sylvie Guillem (Sacred Monsters) and Hanif Kureishi.
Similarly, Juliette Binoche has made artistically challenging choices with directors such as Michael Haneke (Hidden) and Louis Malle (David Hare’s screenplay Damage), and has starred in award-winning films including The English Patient and Chocolat.Creating the environment for the duet is Turner Prize-winning artist Anish Kapoor.
in-i is a unique collaboration between three of today’s most exciting artists.
This time I am easily and fully immersed and this time what it is all seems so clear and evocative and resonant - like reading a novel except they are providing the sounds and pictures and we are making the story (whereas in a novel we make the sounds & pictures from the story the writer gives us). And watching this time it seems so obvious that they are bringing us a fictional story of the trajectory - the rise and clash and fall and remaking of a relationship that is raw from the scaring of past hurts - his from the Mullah as a boy, hers from (his?) violence and both from each other's fierceness.
So why was this second time such a richer experience for me?
A lot has to do with what I brought I think and at the preview show I limited my experience by expecting way too little perhaps: I forgot what a storyteller Akram's is, how his desire to tell a story is what propels and drives his shows, how much he wants to use sound and movement and rhythm to reach and communicate with us. At the preview I think I just sat and watched it as a display of a series of abstract skilfully made images, not looking for a complete narrative and so not seeing any. Then too I wonder if I let myself become distracted by their celebrity - I looked at this to see versions of Akram's Khan and Juliette Binoche when of course the point was to look past and through these 'names' to the people and their story they are making. (the exact opposite to the problem of trying to get 'visibility inside invisibility' cited today for new black performance of needing to become invisible from heightened visibility)
But I think too this show was more formed and performed: I suspect it needed audience responses to find its cadences and punctuation and energy flows to become a finished work. As well as the time and repetitions to transcend its parts and fly out from the performance space.
So 'in-i' now gives me an achingly recognisable series of moments layered into complex textures of personality clashes, dynamics of competing domination, funny awful mismatches of gender behaviours, soft intimate almost too private moments of connection, fighting currents of inner conflict as head wars with emotions, impulse jars against learned responses, past experience contaminates spontaneity. Moving & funny & personal & vivid & memorable.
Saturday, 13 September 2008
Directed and co-written by Robert Lepage
Produced by Ex machina/Théâtre sans Frontières
In association with Cultural Industry and Northern Stage
Co-produced by barbicanbite08, Cabildo Insular de Tenerife and Festival TransAmèriques, Montrèal
Written and performed by Rebecca Blankenship (Ada and others), Hans Piesbergen (Thomas and others), Sarah Kemp (Sarah and others), Rick Miller (Jeremy and others), Frédérike Bédard (Marie and others), John Cobb (Jackson and others), Carlos Belda (Sebastian and others), Lise Castonguay (Michelle and others), Nuria Garcia (Lupe and others),
This latest ensemble work from Robert Lepage and Ex Machina is an epic panorama linking nine lives spanning seven decades, and spinning stories that are surprising, funny and moving.
As we are taken on a nine-hour journey, we stop off between war-torn Vienna, pre-revolutionary Nicaragua and present day London, encountering people who have lost the power of speech and people for whom speech is the only lifeline.
A dubbing studio to the world of vocal forensics, Lipsynch follows a cluster of interwoven destinies, where each voice is searching for its own identity.
Performance time: 13:00 Running time: Approx 9 hrs/inc 4 intervals and 1 extended meal break
In English, French, German and Spanish with English surtitles.
Ada has a big voice. As a soprano. As a mother.
She comes out in concert black and sings Gorecki’s Symphony #3
a woman dies on a plane. her baby is left behind.
With the help of Thomas – a med student fan she happens upon in her trail to find our what has happened to this baby - Ada finds and adopts the baby
Jeremy & Ada move to London. Ada gives Jeremy singing lessons. Jeremy grows up to become a rock singer. Jeremy sings iron maiden’s ‘the number of the beast’ with his rock band.
Jeremy and his girlfriend travel on the Piccadilly line from Covent Garden. His girlfriend videos a sleazy man chasing a couple of women who could be prostitutes. Ada gets on. The girlfriend gets off. Thomas gets on and he and Ada recognise each other – he is living in London, working as a neurologist – as he gets off he asks Ada too call him.
Ada and Thomas get together. They propose a plan to move out to another flat leaving this one for Jeremy and his girlfriend - Jeremy rejects this saying instead he will go to San Francisco to study film.
On the plane he sings the Gorecki - partly in duet with Ada who moves slowly backwards past and away from him. His birth mother appears and walks across the length of the top of the plane towards him finally seeming to present the last part of his song
We see a projection of a painting of Doubting Thomas with his finger testing Christ’s wound. Thomas is making a tribute speech about his professor mentor – a man who had been like a father to him and a man who kept belief in both god and science
Thomas tells Marie - his patient and a jazz singer from Montreal - that the surgery to remove her brain tumour may lead to aphasia - another doctor translates this into french for her. Thomas tells her that she may lose her speech but not her voice for a period of time afterwards – so she will still be able to sing but not make words.
Thomas is briefly haunted by the professor
We get a supersize close-up of the face of a dragged up actor miming the interview of an old English grand dame talking about her early training as a speech therapist in Exeter during the war – she keeps losing names. We learn that she helped Ada - now by her side - with a stammer as a child. Fabulously funny and interesting.
Thomas and his partner neurologist have a coffee together in a bizarre off-synch set that makes sensible a film image of them sitting across from each other over a table. She tells him about a quantum physics lecture where the scientists wonders if - as things go into a parallel world when they pass through a wormhole - whether maybe with Alzheimer’s thoughts slip through a similar ‘wormhole’ into another dimension of the brain. Thomas wonders if his memories of his professor appearing to him now as a ghost are going through a similar process.
Thomas & Ada meet at the Soho jazz club to hear the jazz singer sing a bravura version of ‘April In Paris’. It turns out Thomas is getting the shakes and drinking and his relationship with Ada is in trouble. Ada leaves. Thomas gets drunk. Sarah returns, asks him if she could die – she doesn't believe but had dropped to her knees and prayed that afternoon. We see a stunning projection of Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel ceiling painting of the creation, which closes up to just the image of God pointing in much the same way Doubting Thomas had been shown prodding christ’s wound, and then this image of god morphs smoothly into the shape and form of a human brain: God, Thomas tells us, like everything else is a creation of our brain ...
We see Maria's brain surgery: an image of the parts of her brain labelled with letters ‘because every brain is unique and it helps to find their way around it’; and then we see the picture drawings she has to name and hear her lose her words.
We first have seen Sarah in the earlier scene on the tube: Jeremy’s girlfriend videoed her looking after her friend being harassed by a sleazy man. She is now in the old speech therapist’s kitchen, smoking and singing silently to ‘do you know the way to San José’’ on the radio. The old lady comes in in her motorised chair and changes the station to the news. Sarah takes her money from the bag that seems to live in the microwave and leaves. Ada arrives and gives the old lady a present.
the kitchen widens to contain a radio studio where we find Sarah, head-phoned up with a male escort, both are being interviewed about their experiences as sex workers: his is boastful and glamorous, hers is hurt and troubled – she has been abused as a child by her stepfather, she has overdosed to get away and into care, she has cut herself their to try and get away from the care worker who is abusing her, she goes from a massage parlour to a street prostitute to support her drug habit. She is not inarticulate but she is utterly out voiced by the male escort who steals the show.
As they are ushered out of the studio Sarah seems to recognise the BBC man who replaces them to read the news in smooth RP
The kitchen comes back together: Sarah back at her cleaning job with the old lady, gets some soup, heats in the microwave (taking the old lady’s bag out first), takes the soup to the old lady and finds she has died. Makes a phone call.
Outside she phones the BBC – asks for Anthony – changed his name – Tony Briggs – leaves her number saying his sister called.
Another radio studio: Tony is recording a story about Narcissus. Sarah arrives and is allowed into the studio …
Sarah and Ada
Tony at the police station
Jeremy in Nicaragua looking for info about his mother – a singer? a nanny?
the launch dinner
blocking the singing lesson scene
the singing teacher’s tearful close-up
sex discovered in the trailer and the german’s black eye
the singing teacher’s death scene and maria’s lost voice
Jeremy calls his mother asking if his mother was a prostitute
Sound technology – overlaying different vocal tracks using laptop – head still bandaged
Sound studio dubbing French onto Jeremy’s film: the singing teacher’s death scene. her first job. she gets the number from Sebastian for louise, who can read lips, to try and discover what her father is saying in old home movie film
Marie at home talking about medication and care for Michelle with her doctor. Louise arrives – translates what she can – banal stuff like “look at the camera” and “what do you think of my new car?” Marie trying to get back the lost memory of the sound of her father’s voice. Louise offers to stay and go through all the film. Marie leaves for her choir rehearsal
Foley studio putting in the sounds for the singing lesson of Jeremy’s film
Choir in the church. Michelle arrives
Sound studio with the voice artist trying out different ‘dad’ voices
Marie is persuaded to voice it and gets the sound of her father being in the room: “of course you will have our father’s voice” Michelle tells her
in his French speaking car trying to cancel the rest of his tango lessons because his wife is leaving him
Tony has died under a train – suicide or pushed? a woman has been caught on camera rushing away from the Manchester train platform at Euston His greek secretary turns him down for tango partnering
Interviews voice artist colleagues about him
the police voice expert analyses Sarah’s answer machine message as someone from the north, top teeth that have been replaced, not too big, and with a minor sound that would depress its listeners. she turns Jackson down for tango partnering
Interviews Sebastian who knew Tony well – worked with all his projects, saw him a lot outside of work too. Demonstrates the Tony’s voice sections making rail announcements
Tony’s flat – loads of sleazy home-made porn films. Sebastian calls him to say he’s remembered Sarah’s visit to the studio.
the police voice expert ids the voice on the answer machine and in the BBC prostitute radio show as 100% the same
Tony finds Sarah working the street in Manchester. pretends a breakdown, asks about her, gets her confession: an accident when Tony came after her and found her at the station on her way back to Manchester, they tussle, he steps back, she runs
sound recording studio: Sebastian is conducting a choir of laughers as a background track for a Susan Sarandon movie we hear running. his phone – bad news
at the morgue in his canary islands home town – identified his father’s 4 days dead body – his father’s corpse farts
at his father’s place getting clothes – simon in the closet
the taped obituary announcement being taken round the streets – the neighbours have added their names in as family – S cuts and splices the cassette tape
the wake – body the wrong way round – dentures missing – simon brings in the aunts bearing gifts – Sebastian’s first tape machine and a tape of his father’s stand-up routine
Constant noise like snow - whispers you can't ever quite catch - the voices - first as ghostly forms straining to break through the stretched membrane of your mind - then more distinct personalities: a priest, a little girl - beckoning - calling you out.
Michelle finally leaving the hospital - hiding her prescription - finding it to get her ticket out - packing her toys
Michelle at work in 'her' book shop - the first we are outside with her voices, the second inside with her warmth and intelligence and kindness - the book she lends to Guillaume - taking her pills
Michelle at home - a visit from Marie & Thomas - he is now a psychotherapist - she is fierce and eloquent in her rejection of going into another trial and Marie's smothering flattering love - he pleads innocence and instead announces that he & Marie are to marry - Guillaume arrives to return the book
The first in a revival of monday poetry evenings - a spanish poem - then Guillaume rapping with Shmo's beatbox accompaniment - then Michelle because she promised she would if he did - her poem 'and I do not die'. and I cry
A cafe. Ada waiting. Jeremy arrives with his infant in a carry-cot: Ada's grandson. Ada gives Jeremy a video: this is your mother
A Nicaraguan cafe. Lupe waitressing. Her businessman uncle arrives with an unpleasant german and his 'wife' in a wheelchair. They sell the idea of lupe going with them to Hamburg to look after the wife and their two children. Out of lupe's earshot she is sold for $600.
A doctor's surgery: Lupe is getting a medical prior to travelling. We hear that her mother died when she was tiny and her father of a heart attack when she was ten. She has high blood pressure but is otherwise healthy. She is fifteen
The doctor taking her a blood while her uncle holds her hand morphs into the german restraining her while his 'wife' shoots her arm with drugs. Then she is raped
She is re-dressed in fuck--me clothes and lined up along a caged bar. In the background a film crew are seen away
Her pimp sets up a deal in a car with Tony Briggs - they drive to a bar and he selects Lupe
Lupe is driven to a hotel room where she meets a filmmaker who pays, says she wants to film her story and gives her her card.
In the car she hands over the money and gets her baby, who she clearly adores. A car accident
The film maker now back at home in montreal with the infant Jeremy. Ada arrives, comforts the crying Jeremy back to sleep, is given the tape of Lupe’s interview - just one of 400 hours of tape this woman has filmed of the voiceless prostitutes she has interviewed - and learns that Jeremy is to be put up for foster parents
Jeremy watches Lupe’s film which we see her tell live - arms back & up and helpless with live film of a man caressing his naked torso superimposed over her - then his and many other hands mauling
Ada returns in her black concert dress and sings again
Robert Lepage / Ex machina: http://www.robertlepage.com/