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a group of artists come to work with the local people the local people after a foreign power has withdrawn.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 …

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