Wednesday, 30 April 2008

"vula" (the conch) *** and "moon water" (cloud gate theatre) ***

wednesday 30th april 2008
(unfinished posting)
the conch

directed by ~ nina nawalowalo
associate director / co-producer ~ tom mccrory
producer ~ derek simpson
matai - cultural advisor ~ lani tupu snr
composer ~ gareth farr
designer ~ tolis papzoglou
lighting designer ~ stephen blackburn
lighting operator ~ nick janiurek

puppeteer ~ salesi le'ota
cast ~ fiona collins, kasaya manulevu, ngapaki emery and nora aati
supported by creative new zealand

programme notes:
Performed on a stage flooded with water, Vula (Fijian for ‘moon’) combines magic and illusion with traditional song and dance. With one rich and captivating image flowing into another, it paints an evocative picture of the lives of Pacific Island women and their sensual and spiritual relationship with the sea. As the performers move and dance through the water, they take us on a journey through a Pacific Island day and night. Movement, song and humour intermingle with the glistening water and lighting in a wonderful harmony of elements.
Vula is the first work from groundbreaking Pacific Island company The Conch.
Founded by director Nina Nawalowalo, the company’s work combines the traditional and the contemporary, exploring the potential for marrying the rich performing arts cultures of the Pacific with European theatre styles. Before founding The Conch in New Zealand, Nina Nawalowalo studied mime in London and Paris. For six years she performed and taught all over the world, creating new productions from a unique blend of magic, mask and clowning.

this was a joyful image-and-emotion-rich performance of great beauty, wit, laughter, strength and power and hidden depths. its power came from what this company were able to evoke from the music, movement, occasional mahem & theatre they made in a fabulously lit and shadowed shallow tank of water ...
+ the sound of the surf
+ squeezing the juice from the cava
+ rising out from the sea
+ strong women, low grounded fluid movements reminding me of tai chi (see about cloud gate theatre's "moon water" after this)
+ being underwater with the many (fan)fish
+ the strength and rhythm of rowing
+ sail boats
+ women laughing, singing, playing, washing, teasing, bathing, fooling around, dancing
+ church singers in their white frocks in a delightful sequence that changed the people and what they were wearing with every pass of the sailboat
+ church singers in the rain
+ the women emerging from the cacoons to dance
+ lifting shells and jewels from the sea
+ the horror of hearing and watching sopmething beautiful caught in a net
+ the sounds and splashes and light play and reflection of water
+ a boat returning at night to shore by candlelight
+ the harmonies and rhythms that the sea holds and plays with and lets us hear and imagine with

wonderful wonderful show

wednesday 16 april 2008

"moon water"
cloud gate dance theatre of taiwan

as was this show which i will have to come back to talk about when i next have time ...

"the year of magical thinking" (joan didion)

Tuesday 29th April 2008

"the year of magical thinking"

a play by joan didion based on her memoir

performed by vanessa redgrave
directed by david hare
designed by bob crowley
costume designed by ann roth

lighting designed by jean kalman

sound designed by paul arditti

associate lighting designer - bobby harrell

lyttleton, national theatre

"the year of magical thinking", adapted for the stage by joan didion from her best-selling memoir of the same name, chronicles the aftermath of her husband's - and then her daughter's - sudden deaths...

"following a sell-out run on broadway in 2007, vanessa redgrave repeats her award-winning solo performance in david hare's celebrated production which now receives its uk premiere..."

sad to say my first thoughts are that this was a disappointing experience.
i was expecting it to be - well magical.
so why did it not reach or leave me with any real resonance?

it is certainly extremely well crafted and in many ways flawless in its execution: the writing is fluid and expressive, the acting is honest, centred and true, and nothing happens that seems misplaced, unnecessary or bewildering.

and we all loved the design - redgrave on a chair in expensive white and cream before a series of painted silks that each fell silkily away to reveal the next one behind: the sea, a evocation of a home, then more abstracts skyscapes like oils painted across stretched canvas. these in union with a shifting series of lighting moods helped to convey different emotions and a sense of time (of day / of moving forward).

and certainly vanessa redgrave's performance gave me a woman of such complete presence that i have unquestioningly accepted i am now qualified to know and judge her.

but the problem for me was that this is a woman who has already reasoned everything out thoroughly and is presenting us now with her conclusions.

vanessa redgrave gives us a woman who is doing pretty much as she says she does: staying in control and when she can't control things trying to be incontrol even faster, harder, better (just as we all push our default behaviours in times of crisis). the problem for me in the sudience is that this means i am kept out and apart from her emotions. i hear about them. i even believe them. and much of what she is saying sounds right and honest and true. but without the chance to witness any spontaneous feelings in the moment it was for me a lecture, albeit a very very good lecture, on the nature of grief and grieving.

and then because i am increasingly experiencing this as a presentation i increasingly judge what i get with my head rather than my heart.

while i keep trying to lock into the anguish that is evidently and understandably breaking her apart, instead my judgements about her are piling up and making me feel dismissive - no, too strong - but distanced by the cries she herself keeps re-making and trying to parady: the need to "have things your way", to "always have the last word"accumulatively this person before me becomes just too overtly 'american' for me connect with or in the end even like: too many product placements (the tiffany bracelet, the prada bag, expensive hotels) too many times mentioned. i recognise so closely the frenzied need to direct control on anything when denied the chance to make any difference whatsoever on the very things she wanted to able to hold, keep safe, manage, make ok. but her over-repetitions of knowledge, money, things jarred with me. as did the many stories of catholic rituals that she used to commemorate what she told us was an atheist life which were told without any explanation as to their meaning for her.
and then it had just one private recollection too many for me and i would have had more to take more away if it had finished after the geological connections with ' it was in the beginning, as it is now, as it ever shall be world without end..." and her asking "shouldn't this be enough comfort for us ...?"

but the thing is i really didn't want to be making any of these sorts of value judgements: who the fuck am i to have opinions about her and anyone else's choices? and i don't usually (i hope).

i did this time i think because i came to meet her not as a person in real relationship, but as a character on a stage.
and without any vibration of spontaneous life this was this all i could find to work with ???

in his programme notes david hare cites the moment "...the play [as] a spectacle became a warning" and has what it needs to fly from when joan didion inserted a new "...blazing admonishment with which the play opens..."

"...This happened on December 30, 2003.
That may seem a while ago but it won't when it happens to you.

And it will happen to you. The details will be different,
but it will happen to you.

That's what I'm here to tell you.

You see me on this stage, you sit next to me on a plane, you run into me at dinner, you know what happened to me.

You don't want to think it could happen to you..."

but perhaps it is this tone that makes the problem for me - by making it from the start a case of too much telling me and not enough showing me something i can connect into ???

or perhaps i am just too much untested and in denial about just how inaccessible grief can be for anyone who is not inside it, and until i am i cannot know -
but then how do we bring the resonance of this beyond just the telling of it ???

and so this performance did not reach me.
yet at least ...

Sunday, 27 April 2008

"shoot/get treasure/repeat" (mark ravenhill)

3 - 20 april 2008

(unfinished posting)

"shoot/get treasure/repeat"
by mark ravenhill
an epic cycle of short plays

the Gate, the National Theatre, Out of Joint, Paines Plough, the Royal Court and BBC Radio 3 joing forces to present mark ravenhill's SHOOT/GET TREASURE/REPEAT, an epic cycle of plays exploring the personal and political effects of war on modern life.

the plays began life at last yeat's edinburgh festival as "ravenhill for breakfast" and form a collage of very different scenes, with each taking its title from a classic work.

throughout april the plays will be presented in various venues across london, from the southbannk, sloane square and notting hill to a victorian warehouse in east london.

5 april
lyttleton, national theatre

"the mikado"
peter, who has cancer, expresses his anger to his partner.
with David Bamber & Philip Voss
directed by Gordon Anderson
"the odyssey"
A group of soldiers prepare to go home after invading a foreign country.

with Ruby Bentall, Robert Boulter, Paul Chesterton, Gregg Chillin, Sam Crane, Robert Galas, Jack Gordon, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Nick Malinowski, Akemnji Nhifornyen, Daniel Poyser, Danny Sapani, Amit Shah, Jason Thorpe
Gethin Anthony, Sarah Baiden, Matthew Bick, Luke Carroll, Mike Davies, Jack Farthing, Tom Greaves, Rob Heaps, Adam Hipkin, Lily Kroll, Ryan Lee, Samuel Ripman, Kane Sharp, Rebecca Stewart, Alex Turner, Mark Wall, Stephanie Waring, Alex Warren.
Directed by Tom Cairns and Mark Ravenhill.

5 april
cottlesloe, national theatre

a middle-class wife and mother suffers a repeated pain in her stomach.
with Harriet Walter.
directed by Anna Mackmin

"crime and punishment"

a soldier interrogates a native woman in an occupied zone.
with Craig Gallivan and Thusitha Jayasundera.
directed by Maria Aberg.

8 april
jerwood theatre downstairs, royal court theatre

"the mother"
hayley is visited by two soldierswho are going to break the news of her son's death in battle.
hayley ~ lesley manville
male soldier ~ john dagleish
female soldier ~ rachel chisholma
directed by max stafford clark and claire lizzimore
co-production with Out of Joint

"birth of a nation"
a group of artists come to work with the local people the local people after a foreign power has withdrawn.
directed by ramin gray
with megan dodds, monica dolan, toby jones, pearce quigley as a team of artist-facilitators

19 april
paines plough at village underground
within the walls of an atmospheric victorian warehouse in the back streets of shoreditch, Roxana Silbert directs an ensemble of actors promenade style.

"war of the worlds"
a chorus expresses grief for a city that has been bombed.
"twilight of the gods"
susan, whose country has been invaded, is being questioned by jane

"paradise lost"
liz decides to explore the screa,ms coming from the flat below and discovers ruth.
"love (but i won't do that)"
a soldier is embedded in a middle-class household in an occupied country. he is pushing for sex.
"women of troy"
an american from the midwest on tv: "why bomb us? we're the good guys."

cafe bar, royal court

"fear and misery"
an anxious couple plan their future while listening to the baby alarm.
"war and peace"
alex, a seven year old, is visited in his bedroom by a headless soldier
directed by dominc cooke

sunday 26 april
bbc radio 3 (listen again from 20 april)
"yesterday an incident occurred"
yesterday an unprovoked attack took place in the shopping centre. why has no-one come forward as a witness? justice must be done if rights are to be matched with responsibilities.

performed and recorded with an audience at the victorian covil court of st george's hall
directed by kate rowland

i have just finished listeneing to "yesterday an incident occurred" before it was wiped from bbc radio 3's listen again drama. as this completes the cycle what are my emergent thoughts???

+ that alot of it has been uncomfortable witnessing, that some of it has felt like bad theatre but more of it has been good and sometimes compelling;

+ that ravenhill has done a brave and important thing bringing these voices to out for us to hear. because they are mostly our voices - all those labels that we own up to: middleclass, liberal, humane. his repetitive choruses of 'democracy' 'truth' freedom' 'humanity' might sound hollow and trivial in some of these settings but are nevertheless the very things we hold dear and essential to our lives. and we - who used to be called the chattering classes until we became a whole national majority - are still too guilty of being concerned and inactive, opposed and unmoved away from our self-interested concerns (that he wraps up in a recuurring coffee- worship). we who are trying so hard to be good and true to these 'core values' but who may in the end be too self-satisfied and complacent and bewildered to do anything other than continue to live our lives and try not to become too nasty.

+ the domestic dramas packed more punch than the choruses when the tone of forced sincerity tarnished the effect - i needed th actors to believe so fulsomely in themselves that i couldn't sense the actors knowingness inside the masks

+ a pity about sooo much sex references which often sounded like gratuitous (e.g. mention of the affair by marion's friend in "yesterday an incident..". i can only suppose he is deliberately using these to confront and provoke and i seldom like being confronted and provoked afterall

+ not an exceptional experience in the end because too haphazard and uneven and polemical and too often demostrated rather than evocative but a most worthy and wonderful experiment all the same.

(look up the american actor who talks about the need to look at the darkest things our imaginations can make and not just the sunny haoppy things ...)

some notes about the plays ...

"the mikado"
directed by gordon anderson
alan ~ david bamber
peter ~ philip voss
A park bench

alan and peter – a couple - are enjoying being in the public garden.
we learn that peter is recently recovered and back home from hospital after a serious illness, during which alan has kept vigilance and done up the garden ready for his return.
alan now wants to sell up and move to the dordogne.
peter tells him he has just learnt he is not healing, his cancer has returned aggressively.
alan says we’ll fight it.
peter says he’s tired. and that has this urge to go BOOM…
peter -

"this … thing … ticking away inside of me, if I could have detonated it i would have detonated it, and i would have killed everybody on the train carriage …
they agree though that they will carry one …
alan ~ we'll carry on. we’ll sit on the new bench tonight if the rain holds off and we’ll carry on.
peter ~ why should we do that?
alan ~ because that’s what you do – let’s get back to the car – you carry on.

"the odyssey "
directed by tom cairns and mark ravenhill with 30 actors
played as a greek chorus of soldiers.

british troops in the country thay have brought "freedom and democracy" to" are waiting for a plane to take them home - they have finished their tour of duty. one by one they step out and address the audience (the people they are leaving) telling their stories from home - who they are, what they come from.
the dictator is brought on and given a microphone and forced to read a confession saying what an evil man he is and how it is right that he should be punished and go to hell. he then waits to be formally executed but instead the soldiers swoop on him and beat him to death – they are totally out of control whooping and baying like dogs. they are joined by local people including an man who urinates on the dead body. women paint his face with lipstick.

soldiers the discover they are not going home – will never go home

they must wait for the plane to take them to another country, another war, another people to bring "freedom and democracy" to.

one soldier goes off and shoots himself rather than go on to more war.

a woman enters, tells them they must go on.

they leave for the next war

- our plane is ready. our battle goes on. the world will have freedom and democracy.
- that’s right. that’s good. it’s a good thing to do. goodbye.

exuent, leaving the body of the dictator.

played inside greek tragedy, barbaric killing, trapped in an endless cycle.

director ~ anna mackmin
helen ~ harriet walter
middle-class breakfast room. helen sits with a smoothie, a probiotic yoghurt and the post.

we hear her story: the years of suffering from extreme pain in guts and seeing numerous specialists and therapist – nothing helped until the new regime of cutting out caffeine and this health breakfast. she is at last cured apparently. we also hear how perfect how life has been – apart from the pain in the guts – perfect childhood, perfect marriage, perfect kids. husband is lecturer political studies. her young son draws pictures of people without heads but otherwise – happy. perfect. except for her guts

we hear about some of the treatments she has tried. inga who regresses her into a dream where she is an angel with a broken wing alone and stuck in eden and so bored to death she hangs herself from as tree; the “unashamedly classic therapist” she calls “the little jew” who gets her to tell him about her father’s memories of a prison camp; but –

and this shouldn’t be happening –
the screaming pain comes back

when you’ve tried everything – inga, the little Jew – everything – what can you do? what the fuck can you do?
well, there’s a war on, isn’t there? it says so on the telly so it must be – the war has begun. we invaded them.
now I have zinc and calcium and iron. it’s quite a little ritual, isn’t it?
but I think they do play a part in – they are doing a part in making my life – as near perfect as any life can be.
She takes the tablets

"crime and punishment"
director ~ maria aberg
soldier ~ craig gallivan
woman ~ thusitha jayasundera

the soldier is interrogating a local woman using a tape machine to record everything said– set after the fall of baghdad – he has seen her in the film footage of the crowd watching the statue of hussein being pulled down

he interrogates her.

she tells how he troops have arrived in the city.

my husband and son have died in the bombing. i am told that my mother-in-law is in the hospital … i am trying to get to the hospital … a soldier comes to me “want to be on tv?” please I must get to the hospital. “come on, you’re a pretty girl, be on tv” soldier pushes me with gun into square… “square is closed off now. this is freedom. this is democracy. this is history. stay.”

the soldier tells woman she is incredible. he needs her to love him
she refuses – he shoots her in the foot. she still refuses. he shoots her in the knee. she consents to holding him and says ‘let that be enough’.
he says it is not enough. she says she’s leaving and that this is wrong. is this freedom? democracy? if so, she doesn’t want it.
he jumps on her, cuts her tongue out

9.47am. i have cut out detainee’s tongue. my mission is pointless. nobody loves me. now i must choose if i shoot out my brains. maybe there is love in another place, maybe if we invade again then a woman will say … or maybe it is better to shoot now. i wish i had an order from a superior. please somebody tell me, ‘shoot out your brains’ or, ‘son, don’t shoot out your brains.’ but there is no order from above. the choice is mine. this is democracy. democracy – I hate you.

"the mother"
director ~ max stafford clark and clare lizzmore
hayley ~ lesley manville
male soldier ~ john dagleish
female soldier ~ rachel chisholm
a co-production with Out of Joint

hayley’s home. she is in dressing gown. the soldiers are in full dress uniforms. it is early morning. hayley throws every tactic she can to stop them from saying what she knows they have come to say – that her son has been killed in action. she is abusive, self deprecating, buddying, offers to make them breakfast, and when they say ‘no’ –

no? this is my house, i worked thirty years so don’t you fucking tell me don’t you fucking tell me. you’re not occupying my fucking house, alright, so don’t you fucking tell me
then she tries asking them –as a favour – to pretend they told her go back and say ‘job done’ and that she took it well….that she took it badly…that she listened and acknowledged and there was no denial - they hate that, if you’re in denial – that she took it about right …
when the male soldier finally gets close to telling her she falls on him and bites his nose. he throws her off swearing, blood gushing from his nose.
she takes charge, orders the female soldier to fetch antiseptic and bandages, comforts and cradles his face in her lap, he is stuck there while she reads his face and then reads into her son –

look what they done to you. look what they done to my beautiful boy.

at last he can make his speech, which he does quietly and without interruption

not so bad as I thought. you said them lovely. no, really. really. really. really. lovely.
she refuses all further offers, immerses herself in finding her TV channel-changer, watching tv.
they leave her.
hayley keeps on watching the tv.
for a long time she is emotionless as the tv chatters on but finally she wails and wails and wails and wails …

Saturday, 26 April 2008

IMG_3468 macba

IMG_3468 macba
Originally uploaded by marktrezona

macba, barcelona
december 2007

"the hour we knew nothing of each other" (peter handke)

monday 11th february 2008

"the hour we knew nothing of each other" (peter handke)
from a new translation by Meredith Oakes

Director……………………….James MacDonald
Associate Director...……….Jonathan Burrows
Set Designer…………………Hildegard Bechtler
Costume Designer…………Moritz Junge
Lighting Designer………….Jean Kalman
Composer…………………….Mel Mercier
Sound Designer…………….Christopher Shutt

Lyttleton, until 12th April 2008

For a moment, a bright, empty town square.
And then a figure darts across, and another and another – businesspeople, roller-blades, a cowboy, several street-sweepers, a half-dressed bride, a film crew, a line of old men, a tourist, a beauty in a mirrored dress, Abraham and Isaac, a family of refugees, a fool – more and more people, the bizarre and the humdrum, fleetingly connected by proximity alone.

This play without words is theatre to set the imagination on fire.

this was a rivetting show - the stories upon stories beside stories within stories out of stories you got hints of as person after person just walked across the space - different walks, different rhythms, different places they were coming from, diifferent places they were getting to, different paces.
and then the mad moments -
~noah with his tablets,
~abraham with isaac and a knife then returning with isaac and happily not the knife,
~a queue of people waiting to post letters with one woman trawling through the ring tones of her phone,
~a series of elderly men limping their way across in a succession of increasingly unlikely different guises - academics, farmers, fools... a fool who mocks everything and everyone until he is left bewildered with the man he has mocked while he died.

ordinary people. improbable people. fictional people. familiar people. and while they knew nothing of each other we - the onlookers - grew fat minds thinking, imagining, believing we knew more and more of these people.

james macdonald on making (directing) "the hour we knew nothing...
very enlightening and what a lovely man.
here are some of the quotes i grabbed from him from the post-show discussion:

"i tried to leave space for every actor to try out any bit they wanted in the spirit of inquiry rather than competition... i cast it without allocating parts, and every actor plays the same amount (some play less characters because their character returns)..."
"...we tried it out in workshop with dancers who were great, but you need great actors who know how to take on a character and tell a story... "

"... i decided very early that i wouldn't ask the actors what story they'd made for their characters - if they decided they needed a story..."

"...the rehearsal was discovering how much of the story to tell [each time] - there are 400 different stories - the biggest decisions were getting the right rhythm, pace, pause, holds..."

"...this has been the most exciting challenge in terms of working on the starts very natural. then it's like a set of dance moves with people doing repeated practised actions. then it is something else... handke wants to wake you up to experience the next bit - he believes the truth is in the detail and is very scathing of all generalisations..."

" moves you around geograpgically - [globally as well as around the space] - the stage is the world...there are 17 different sections, altho handke doesn't number them. the characters "know nothing of each other" for about an hour of the time and for the rest he imagines what might happen if they do become aware and connect with each other..." (this of course is then exploded and they are back to the not knowing again)... "

"what makes it different from watching the film from a fixed camera pointed at a city square?

Peter Handke is what makes it different"

Peter Handke on The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other
From an interview with Sigrid Löffler for Profil, May 1992

Your new play is totally silent and its protagonist seems to be a square across which people walk. The play is called The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other. What's behind this strange title?
the trigger for the play was an afternoon several years ago. i'd spent the entire day on a little square in Muggia near Trieste. i sat on the terrace of a café and watched life pass by. i got into a state of real observation, perhaps this was helped along a bit by the wine. every little thing became significant (without being symbolic). the tiniest procedures seemed significant of the world. after three or four hours a hearse drew up in front of a house, men entered and came out with a coffin, onlookers assembled and then dispersed, the hearse drove away. after that the hustle and bustle continued - the milling of tourists, natives and workers. those who came after this occurrence didn't know what had gone on before. but for me, who had seen it, everything that happened after the incident with the hearse seemed somewhat coloured by it. none of the people milling on the square knew anything of each other - hence the title. but we, the onlookers see them as sculptures who sculpt each other through what goes on before and after. only through what comes after does that which has gone on before gain contours; and what went on before sculpts what is to come.
In your play somebody suddenly falls to the ground and dies. The dead man is carried away and replaced immediately by merry wanderers who know nothing of what went on before. A beauty struts across the scene, idle tourists go by, lovers embrace each other, skaters flash past, Papageno appears dressed in feathers with his birdcage on his back.
Yes. Papageno quite casually wanders by – one thing flows to the next. it’s not supposed to be heavily laden with meaning or in any way didactic.
But why Papageno?
During two weeks of working last summer I worked myself into such a concentration that I observed far more than would naturalistically be perceivable. the more you observe the more hallucinatory it becomes. so I could allow myself mythical excursions. all of a sudden Moses arrives with the tablets of stone on his way back from Sinai.
Or Peer Gynt peeling an onion.
Yes, one doesn’t know if this is hallucination or reality. something quite dreamplaylike occurs when the remnants of these myths, which we still carry within us, briefly become visible. whilst watching this square it seemed to me that, along with the modern pedestrians, the presence of these inner images, these archaic pictures could be sensed. only for seconds.
And nobody talks. All is silent.
I didn’t want any of the figures to solidify into what one calls a ‘role’. every actor should embody many little procedures. I wanted these procedures to play off each other, sharpen and sculpt each other. nothing more. at one point I wrote myself into a rut. the procedures headed towards a climax and it threatened to become dramatic. people on the square stopped circling and gliding. all of a sudden they all stood still.
And presumably this is the point when they would like to talk?
Yes exactly. and I thought: for god’s sake, what happens now? now they’re waiting. the waiting builds up a pressure. someone must talk or this will run the risk of becoming dodgy mime. somebody is going to start talking. I broke the knot with force. the way you break a Gordian knot.
Because this was supposed to a wordless piece?
It’s something that had been on my mind for over fifteen years. I just had to write a play in which no one talks. that appeals to me as a spectator. I would like to see something like this.

From a conversation with Peter von Becker, May 1993

In your latest play The Hour We Knew Nothing Of Each Other you obviously had great fun inventing [lots of] stories again … without having to finish them completely.
that was my starting point: I wanted to begin stories, keep beginning them! without ever stopping them. bringing things to an end is the most difficult thing, this is a secret of getting old. listen to the people outside when they tell each other things: they never know when the time has come to finish. I’m also noticing that I have difficulty with jumps ion narration. that’s the most important thing. begin the story – and then immediately carry on telling it somewhere else. and I thought I’d really like to succeed in this, and maybe this is just right for the theatre: to sketch out a story in bold brushstrokes and then immediately move on.The piece will probably be reborn with every new space, with a different design and the constellation of characters. It offers great openness.I like the fact that this is neither a particularly deep nor flat piece. it simply exists. is there much to discover in it? I don’t know. in any case there is nothing behind it (laughs) that can be seen as a relief. and this is accompanied by a sense of dreaming: the myths. I always connect what is going on in my heart or head to the myths. maybe this play is an attempt to recapture a sense of the myths. because they will never totally vanish: but where are they hiding at present? (laughs)
Fairy tale king, biblical figure or office clerk: there seems to be a complete democracy between the people in The Hour We Knew Nothing Of Each Other…
…and so everybody has the right to appear: everybody from every time or place. even those from allegories or myths.
that is very important. they are all equal. while one person is still describing his opr her path, another operson has already come forward from the background. the one person sculpts the other. there is no such thing as one person on their own: by somebody having inhabited the space before, the next person’s appearance gains contours.
Where did you find the foreword to The Hour We Knew Nothing Of Each Other the lovely sentence from the Oracle of Dodona: “Do not betray what you have seen. Stay inside the picture”?
(laughs) I invented that!But you once travelled to Ioannina in the north of Greece and to Dodona. It’s a really secluded and mysterious place.five years ago I walked from Ioannina to the oracle-site of Dodona. it was mid-winter and one of the most glorious days of my life. apart from a small amphitheatre and the remains of the oracle, there are some oak trees. these have been replanted. the voice of the oracle was said to have come fro the wind rushing through the oak trees. I can well imagine that, since the sound of the wind on the dry oak leaves is very eloquent.

Handke’s Working Notes for the Play

25 June 1991

the old man drags himself across the square, and then comes to a rest in the middle.a child who looks everyone in the face from below.the wondrous gently raised square in front of the palace in Versailles.

26 June 1991

a quick succession of scenes, now and then overlapping each other: like the tugging of the girl in the bus’ sleeve by another girl, then their communal parting outside, smiles all around them.(Bus 39, Guyancourt – Versailles)

28 June 1991

the square becomes a clearing with a green shimmer. ‘fantastic clearing’, the correct definition would be: the clearing allows the mind to fantasize.

30 June 1991

movements that correlate with the light and expanse and stillness and rustling of the clearing/square, and become a dance (like voices which in the evening become consonant with the rustling of the garden).the adult sits on the child’s knee.

2 July 1991

the people who are crawling, pulling themselves along the ground, jumping, clearing hurdles out of their way, like dogs being trained.another title for the piece would be “at a distance”.

3 July 1991

the mystery of someone who is just standing there. has he always been there? will he go? - someone who, from start to finish, just stands there.meeting one another as if in front of the wailing wall. stretching one’s legs in front of it.someone who does not know distance always steps intimately close to the other.

4 July 1991

an actor who, whilst walking, plays a different race, an extraterrestrial.

5 July 1991

communal, decidedly patient waiting; one companionably joins the hitherto solitary other figure.the hour we knew nothing of each other? the day we knew nothing of each other? that very day …? that very hour…?

11 July 1991

waiting at an airport; the people waiting who fall in love with one another; the transformation of the people waiting by the arrival of the awaited.

12 July 1991

the crossover from the reality of that perceived at daytime, to the inner eye, the daydream, the memory, the imagination, the fantasy, and back to reality again.such a mute spectacle can only have an open end.the rotation the earth describes, during the hour of the people walking; the image that by the end they have circles the earth.the old man, licking an ice cream.

13 July 1991

a vagrant who, in the middle of the stage, pulls out a magnificent fan and fans herself some air.a moment in which the square becomes the introductory square to a bigger square.

14 July 1991

someone as if he were being led to the gallows.someone is swallowed up into the ground, and not one of his companions notices this.the square as arrival/as in-between stop/crossover/no man’s land/kissing-the-ground paradise.the invisible square within the square.and the clearly fragmentary as one of the essences of the piece.end: the spectators leave jubilantly; lift off with a sudden flurry.stay at eye level; look eye to eye.the regularity of the action, despite all variation; suddenness as symmetry.visualising the space between the spectator and the actor, or: the space around the actor; this space as matter; the “hunched” spectator, not dissimilar to Rodin’s not forget the BIG WAY of looking at the ‘whole’; but also the little airy banalities.

15 July 1991

the person racing, calming down when approached by another racer.

18 July 1991

the futile guest leads to the finding of something other: wonderment.

Fragments from Handke’s prose . . .

On Writing

He decided that the others should not have a story, in the same way that he himself had not story; only in this way could he bear other people, in fact it was only in this sense that he could properly start perceiving them and feel a desire to describe them. Only without a story did they etch out their contours, and the landscape around them opened up and they were unshackled from constricting anecdotes (I will never write a ‘text’, a ‘story’, a ‘moral tale’, a ‘mirror image’, not even a ‘poem’; so what else is there? - A narration that transforms empty space into energy and sustains it.)

I have always sensed that the possibilities of the theatre are limitless, that there is always another possibility beyond what I have thought of.

For me there is no codex as to how a play should be written, and therefore it is easy to get out of control. Since there are no scenes, acts and no one story – one has to guard oneself against randomness. These things of mine balance on a tightrope.

In order to write I need: silence – then excitement – and then collected calm, and that same procedure with every sentence. And without this triad I can’t bring a word to paper.

Whilst writing I have to be as quick on the uptake, agile, cunning and resourceful as when seducing someone.

Writing plays is difficult for me because my starting point is never a theme, but rather a sort of investigation. I want to investigate something, I never know what this is beforehand.

I never want to be guilty of repetition.

The audience must have an experience! Observing and looking into themselves. Observation is the most beautiful contribution ever.

Space, time, centre and form.

These are the things I am after.

I can only write unplanned stories.

And that is fitting for these times.

When from within the wondrous daydream a structure starts emerging – that’s where my personal thinking begins.

In my work concentration – forceful concentration – is often wrong. In order to achieve something I have to allow my mind to wander and at the same time must be attentive in my distractedness. This is a sort of a game with your own consciousness: you seemingly give it a free rein, and then suddenly catch it when it thinks it is free.

Everything that comes to you when fantasising is correct. Everything else contains the danger of invention. Believe yourself, even if it was outrageously fantastical – especially if it was fantastical.

I can only see myself through my work.

I can only think through my work.

On Walking

From here onwards we will walk, not drive.

In all of these vehicles there exists no departure, no change of scene, no sense of arrival.

Whilst driving, even if it is me who is steering, I’m never fully with it.

Whilst driving, my innermost self is not present.

Whilst driving, I’m reduced to a role which runs contrary to my nature: in the car, that of a figure caged behind glass, on the bike, a handlebar-clutcher and pedal-treader.

Walking. Treading on the earth. Both hands remaining free. Relying on your own momentum.Driving and being driven only in an emergency.

I’ve never been to the places to which I was driven. It is only though walking that the experience becomes tangible. Only whilst walking I spin around with the apples on the tree. Only the walking person grows a head on his shoulders. Only the walker experiences the balls of his feet. Only the walker feels a train thundering through his body. Only the walker can hear the sound of the trees – Silence! Only the walker catches up with himself and is at one. Only the walker’s thoughts are legitimate.

We will walk.

The time has come to walk!

Whenever I have experienced arrival at any place, for instance on the mountain top, this was always accompanied by the feeling that I cannot stay. I can only pause, for a brief while, and then must continue, until maybe I can pause again briefly. For me existence has always been something that is experienced fleetingly.

A day in a strange city: from the attic room to the bakery; from the bakery to the living room; from the living room out on to the street; from the street to a bench by a children’s playground; from the bench under a tree (heavy rain); from the tree to the museum; from the museum onto the street; from the street into the telephone box; from the telephone box to the café; from the café to a church; from the church to the underground to the cinema; from the cinema to the attic room.

After the experience of art this desire to walk, to walk, down by the river, to continue walking.

Peter Hanke’s work

The Representative, 1963 (documentary drama)

Offending The Audience, 1965-68 (protest play)

Slow Homecoming, 1979 – 1981 (prose)

The Long Way Round, 1981 (dramatic poem)

Wings of Desire, 1987 (film)

Absence, 1987

The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty, 1970 (novel)

A Sorrow Beyond Dreams, 1972 (novel)

The Hour We Knew Nothing Of Each Other, 1992 (play-without-text)

“I have only one theme, to achieve clarity, or to achieve greater clarity, about myself, to know myself or not to know myself, to learn what I do wrong, what I think wrong, what I think unthinkingly, what I say unthinkingly, what I say unthinkingly, what I say automatically, what others too do, think and say unthinkingly: to become attentive and to make others attentive: to become and to make others more sensible, more sensitive, more precise, so that I and others too may exist more precisely and more sensitively, so that I may communicate better and consort better with others.”

IMG_3472 sculpture @ macba
Originally uploaded by marktrezona

macba, barcelona, december 2007

Thursday, 24 April 2008

memories, bodies & landscapes: “the gathering”

monday 10th march 2008

“the gathering”
discussion forum:

memories, bodies & internal landscapes
bernie grant arts centre,

3.30pm sunday 9th march 2008
How do female artists connect with and draw on their own memories in their work?
Featuring Peggy Shaw, Anna Furse, Akosua Bambara, Cassie Waller, Shirley Williams, Rosanna Raymond and Campbell.

Autobiography and personal memory runs through women’s storytelling.
“The Gathering” festival harbours weekend of strange revelations, physical protestations, secrets revealed and declarations bellowed, brings together an unprecedented line-up of distinctive voices in female music, live art, visual art, spoken word, film, fashion and literature for cross cultural exploration and mind body expansions.

Some of the world’s leading female artists come together to discuss and examine aspects of memory and the creative process of their work, from cutting edge film to physical performance.

Join in the discussion and consider “how female artists connect with and draw on their own memories in their work?” …

Peggy Shaw
independent New York performance artist, painter and poet

my notes/quotes:

“I work from impulse…”
“I have lumps in my body … if I squeeze them really hard maybe I’ll get a monologue…”
“I write for 10minutes without taking the pen off the paper … a technique for automatic writing: if stuck write ‘what I mean to say is …’ … keeps you honest …”
“after every show I try to have talkback – everyone can share the personal memories…”
“I work a lot with lies: try to lie and interesting truths come out…”

Anna Furse
award winning director and writer of over 50 text driven and devised works

classically trained dancer influenced by study with Peter Brook, Grotowski and in new dance forms has developed her own training methodology that creates theatre from the body outwards “Glass Body”(2005) – innovative infertility installation from a performance devised from her experience making her daughter through IVF developed with Imaging Dept, Assisted Contraception Unit and Hospital Arts at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital and with scientific mentoring of Prof. Stuart Campbell at Create Health

my notes/quotes:

“our memories are in our bodies – that’s all we have…”

my notes about “Glass Body”:

... in the centre of the space a stainless steel hospital trolley, an open drawer showing a pair of child’s red shoes, a child’s red jacket, a string of pearls (all of which appear in the show), its surface covered in sculptured salt providing the ‘screen’ for the video of the performance: a performer (woman) and a voice Anna) – it's about seeing the you inside your body, about the birth of ‘our kid’ Nina – (universal name for girl apparently), about eggs, cells, x-rays, sonic sounds, whale sounds, submarine sounds. stacked on the bottom shelf of the trolley are petri dishes that audiences are invited to write messages onto – one reads “to all my lost babies”. a bank of computers showing a moving exhibit of these petri dishes and one with an ‘interactive toy’ that invites you to piece together a woman’s reproductive system by dragging and placing – i was completely hopeless. reminiscent of those cut-out dress-up dolls with the different clothes and accessories - i was better with these once. at each end a projection of a painting of an early medical examination ...

Akousa Bambara
visual orator©, designer, jeweller, enameller and ceramic artist
Akousa has developed and produced Dialogue Panels© also known as Wall Jewellery© and Dialogue Tags©

my notes/quotes:

“my work is about reclaiming – it’s about owning our [Afro-Caribbean] stories …”
“our story is constantly being interrupted by others’ assumptions …”
“I make in metal because I want the work to last … I want it to be dug up in 1,000 years and interpreted as an important part of the record …”
“I call myself a direct descendent of the kidnapped people of Africa – I call myself a dark power …”

Cassie Waller
video artist and photographer currently studying Interactive Media at Bernie Grant Arts Centre

“Found At Sea” uses archive media of her parents from 1976 to 1985: 16mm fottage of her father building a boat is integrated with taped conversation between her mother and father, the video reconstructs his obsessive journey to escape his life. Dedicated to and about my parents.
my notes/quotes:

“in the end it was exorcising … I’m not angry any more …”

Shirley Williams
influenced by textures

Shirley already possessed dressmaking skills from watching her seamstress grandma cut and make clothes without need of a pattern. Collage introduced her to the fundamentals and her garments now sell to celebs from her stall at Spitalfields market her exhibition is a series of recreated collaged books made from and out the memories the original books contain, including her own memories

my notes/quotes:

“the way I put things together is instinctive but the elements have been gathered over a long period of time … I collect things sporadically …”
“I like fragments … layers upon layers upon layers …”
“I try to recreate texture … manmade things that collide with nature …”
“I make scrapbooks and notebooks that hold a lot of my memories …"
“my work is reactionary … I like to work with something that already exists … like a collection of garments that I’ve got from charity shops that I’ve deconstructed and put together as a collage into a new garment …”

Rosanna Raymond
New Zealand born performance / installation / body adornment artist and writer currently living and working in London.

A ‘Tusitala’ (storyteller) at heart

my notes/quotes:

“I am a ‘afulcasi’ – a half-caste … part Maori and part Samoan…”
“I was brought up and influenced by my Samoan grandmother in oral histories and crafts..."

Barby Asante
London based multimedia producer and artist

whose work focuses on concepts such as identity and self-expression: how much do we define personal identity through comparison, competition and aspiration?
Much of her performance installations place the viewer at the centre of the artistic process through physical interactive experiences: in her show “wig therapy” she has an assistant book people in for an hour’s session trying out wigs and talking
my notes/quotes:

“I want to leave the audience feeling empowered not manipulated …”
“in Slovenia I felt belittled by their reactions and one inner voice said ‘you don’t have to take this shit’ and another inner voice said ‘you started this dialogue now you have to follow it through’ … I learned so much about how to work with what actually happens to make the conversation … what can I use now to make this conversation happen? …”

queer filmmaker
(no biog provided)
my notes/quotes:

“my film is about how my mother parented me and what was taken and rejected from how her mother brought her up …”
“some things are so ingrained you can’t let go of them …”
“how we move is African – they couldn’t beat that out of us …”

"Instructions for Modern Living" (Duncan Sarkies and Nic McGowan)

saturday 5th april 2008
Instructions for Modern Living
Duncan Sarkies and Nic McGowan
The Pit
barbican bite08
Tuesday 1 April – Saturday 5 April 2008
New Zealand

this is the show we saw last night - from nz as you will see.
and interestingly we were a split jury on this one:
i loved it and martyn hated it (amended this to a more neutral response after hearing them talk about the making and performing of it in the post show talk).

they take the model of a band performing a set of 'songs', except that in this case the 'songs' are written dialogues and monologues of an array of characters trying to get through a long night of sleeplessness to the morning, written and performed by duncan sarkies with live music made and performed by nic mcgowan. they made the show very much together in a series of 'jam sessions' -impro-ing the words alongside the music.

the piece is very laid back, lethargic, melancholic, amorphic (add further nightime slowmoving adjectives of your choice - martyn's might be laconic. soporiphic. deadly...) - very nz in in this deliberately unhurried atmosphere and one of our criticisms is that all the effects added together into this one same affect - music, lighting, words performance, images - there was nothing acting in counterpoint. so what you got was a stage full of tech kit - sound gear & musical instruments (keyboards, vodophone, weird electronic thingy - therefone we think it's called - you play it with your hands seemingly thru thin air), microphone, music stand that duncan used to work thru and discard his scripts from, video camera, old fashioned record player with a sarah vaughn l.p. on it. and behind them a large screen that images were played on and that we saw thru the layer of them and their equipment. they wanted us to see them physically making the show as it happened and to know that all the sound and many of the video images were live. so you get this very trance like music being set up in a series of layered loops building up on top of and over each other: keyboard, synth orchestral sounds, voice, etc etc etc. behind this different night time images suggesting the scene of the story.

and we get story after story - always from the 1st person - so either monoloque or dialogue. all performed thru a microphone so the change in voices and sounds that duncan was able to give us was phenomenal.

we start with...

...a house at night with it's lights on until we see a shadowey person come thru into the front room and then leave turning out the lights:

"we haven't told wendy about the ghost that lives in her room. wendy is our new flatmate and we want her to stay for a bit. so we haven't told her about the ghost. but the ghost seems to like wendy. it is always there in her room when she comes home from work. and again when she goes up to bed..."

... an apartment block in the rain with all its lights blazing away thru the gloom:

"it's 3am and i'm here at radio whatever waiting to take your calls. whatever your problems give me a call and let's talk. well i see the board is clear so i'm standing by and ready for your call. we all have problems. and let's face it anyone who is awake and listening to this show at this time in the morning has certainly got a problem or two. so the board is still showing clear so i'm ready to talk to you. well perhaps i should get the ball rolling. i had a troubled childhood. like a lot of people. not a happy little child...."

...a car driving thru city streets seen through the front window:

"...i'm on my way home. and i know that i'm not going to like what i find when i get there. i know my wife will be home. but i also know she won't be very happy to see me. chances are she'll be in bed already, pretending to be asleep when i walk in. there'll be nothing for dinner i shouldn't think..."

this story finished with the car reversing:

" what if we could rewind the tape of our lives. where would you like to go back to? back to that time you were young and out partying every night? back to being at school and never getting picked for the cool teams? back to being a young kid and...."

...a screen of static:

"...huston this is friendship, over"
" friendship this is huston. receiving you loud and clear, over"
"roger that huston. nothing to report. all isgood here. over"
" copy that friendship."
"actually, when i say all is good here there that's not quite the truth. actually, i'm not so good with words, but well how to say, i guess it's just that i'm really bored. over"
"huston? please confirm you are receiving. over"
"oh. this is huston. yes. copy that friendship. just can't think of how to help really. over."

"this is friendship. yes roger that huston. i guess this is one i'll just have to work through by myself"
"actually frienship, i'm pretty bored myself as it happens. over"
"oh. well i've got a power nap scheduled so i'll sign out huston"
"there's nothing to do here. and i haven't even got a window. what do you see through your window friendship? over"

"well huston. you know the pictures of the earth you see quite often on the covers of those atlases?"
"well the view from my windon pretty much looks like that."
"oh. copy that friendship"

....a figure leaning against a wall looking at a wall of tvs in a shop windowall playing the same pictures:
sorry - can't remember this story but it was my favourite image and i went into a bit of my own dream with it i think
...a silhouette in a pub of a couple of blokes facing each other over a table with their beer glasses:

(bass voice) "did you hear about the brazillian?"
(pipey voice) "that's a landing strip isn't it?"
"no. i mean the people. from brazil. the brazillian the police shot in london in the tube station?"
"oh. yeah"
"it's not right that. it's just because he was of the wrong colour."
"'ve got to be right colour these days"
"especially over there you do. since 9/11 they've got police everywhere."
"wasn't 9/11 america?"
"well you know what i mean. they've toughened all the security up and you can't move anywhere over there now"
"really? sounds like a terrible place to be"

...a silhouette of a couple in armchairs from the back with their tea cups on side tables watching a tv show about a gadget for putting your hair into aperfect bun:

"are you enjoying this?"
"yes i am. it's interesting."
"oh. do you think so."
"yes i do. why? what do you want to watch?"
"no no this is fine."
"if you want to watch something else just say so."
"no this is fine."
"we could turn it off."
"and do what?"
"and have a conversation. we never talk."
"allright then."
"what do you want to talk about?"
"you start. it was your idea."
"ok... this is a really nice cup of tea"
" on no no no. that's not a conversation. you cannot have a conversation about a cup of tea"

i've taken a lot of liberties with the writing of these from memory - the essence is there but duncan sarkies is a proper writer and i'm trying to just recapture my future recollection.
gives you the idea tho i think.

there was also a happy monologue along the lines of ...

" did i get so lucky. i'd resigned myself to spending the rest of my love life lover-less. and then you came along. what did i do to deserve you? ..."

and the last piece was a new age sermon about rejoicing in the beauty and wonder of the world and its natural beauty with the only day time images they used - waterfalls, dolphins and other 'glorious nature' pics - because they wanted to have something different in the mix and a place to lead to and end with. but it didn't come off well for us and it was too unclear that the tone was meant to be heavily ironic (where the rest of the voices had been - to themselves at least - sincere & true).

so anyway...
i am watching and thinking:
wow this is so exciting and what a brilliant model for a way to make a show and how great to be given all this space to have my own thoughts and dreams in and maybe these aren't the stories i would want to be telling but as a jumping off point for imagining and experiencing something how rish and wonderful and how cool that i'm gonna get the chance to be learning some of this technology at g'smiths and yes yes yes ...
and i turn to martyn at the end and say

"wasn't that so great. what did you think?"

and he says:

"i hated it!"

cos i think he has meanwhile been watching and thinking:

"oh god i recognise all these no-hoper losers all too well and i am so not interested in their stories and god this is self-indulgent and slow and who cares and this is soooo nz not in a good way and all right all right i get the message move on already ..."

then from the post show talk and quite a lot of our own post show talking we have both modified our views closer together so he doesn't hate it quite so much and can see things to like about it and i have admitted it some faults and agreed that a big one of these was that there was no anticipation or surprise - you kinda figured out what you were going to get early on and then as the piece progressed you had less and less need - and thus desire - to stay alert and involved.

but another thrilling experience at the theatre in ye ole london towne.

and fantastic to be getting cutting edge performance this good from our homeland.