Friday, 30 May 2008

"the pursuit of happiness"

found this in a style magazine (credted to "life DIY" by pete cohen, element books)...

happiness =

p + (5 x e) + ( 3 x h)

p = personal characteristics (e.g. adaptability)

e = existence (e.g. friendships or financial stability)

h = higher order needs

rate yourself on the following on a scale of 1 - 10

Q1. are you outgoing and open to change?

Q2. do you have a positive outlook?

Q3. how well are you needs met in relation to health, finanace, safety, freedom of choice and sense of community?

Q4. to what extent do you take part in the type of activities that give you a sense of purpose?

add your answers to Q1 + Q2 to get you p value

Q3 is the value for e

Q4 is the value for h

do the sum and the closer you get to 100 the happier you are.

keep smiling ...

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

"comedy of errors" workshops (warhorse theatreworks)

tuesday 27, thursday 29 & friday 30th may 2008

"comedy of errors"
research & development workshops
wendy windle + hayley radford
warhorse theatreworks

"If theatre is to survive we believe it must offer something that film and television cannot; for us this is the intimate and immediate connection with the audience. We believe that the future of theatre lies in small companies embracing a style that sets theatre apart. We believe in reinvesting in theatre as a magical art form. Our work aims to engage the audience’s senses, hearts and minds. Through play and experimentation with text and physicality we seek to unearth the driving passions that make bold and challenging theatre.

Our passion lies in collaborative theatre, exploring heightened storytelling to create a truly theatrical experience. At Warhorse Theatre works we want to see performers, who are at the cutting edge of the art form, empowered to make their own theatre responding to what audiences want to see.

This style of theatre requires actors who are in possession of a wide range of skills, are creatively healthy and ready to play. Good theatre comes from a sense of playful abandonment . Good ideas come when we are free to play..."
tuesday 27th may
brilliant day playing through a series of activities that became increasingly focused on "comedy or errors" with a fantastic hugely talented group who were all up for pushing things, working collaboratively, taking risks, and generous playing.
this is such a great way to start to make a new show!

so our day today as best i remember it was:
warm up walking the space:
>edge< (go to an outside edge); >swap< (run to the other side); >floor< (roll on the floor using the back and move on); >elbows< (join together connecting at the body part); >point< (freeze + point ay something, hold, then move off in the oppsite direction); >hug< (hug someone then move off again) "c'mon let's go"
A leaves the room so they cannot hear what they are expected to go off to do
group decide on what this is (shoplift a designer bag from harrods; seduce her majesty the queen;)
when A returns B must try and get them to leave without giving anything away. A can only when when they can correctly guess what they are off to do.

4 players. each get an instruction (e.g you are washing an elephant and you know the special way to do this right) people speak gibberish. the objective is spot, accuse and execute the foreigner (for this is what happens to foreigners in this land). obviously if you are the foreigner the objective is to not be singled out out and to stay alive.

"mr. punch"
time to devise a scene from classic punch scripted scene where he kills voraciously. with props (we had a bell and a stick)

"arm extension walk"
lovely activity after lunch simply involving open up arms and extending up to full stretch and up on toes over a slow walk to the end of the room - hold the extension at its fullest - turn on toes - lower arms - walk back. variation involved doing it with a long stick in each hand. gave a fab feeling of being present, relaxed and open in the whole space.

"wooed and woo-ers"
4-somes playing with (syracuse) antipholus wooing adriana and luce pursuing (syracuse) dromio using a bunch of flowers in relay through the scene (e.g. from antipholus to dromio to adriana to luce to dromio to antipholus and a whack for dromio ...)

"wooed and woo-er" II
pairs then devised a dance with the antipholus+adriana going for emotional interest and luce+dromio going fro full comedy

devised scene: "there's not a man i meet but doth salute me" (act iv scene iii)
in groups playing with this speech of antipholus bring each of the aspects he observes into live realisation so the audience can actually see him saluted, called by name, given money, invited, thanked, measured up for new clothes. fantastic fun doing this.

and our final challenge was to combine our three groups into one and present one unified version of the scene. which we did without tears or tantrums.

thursday 29th may
carlos led today's programme
proud of myself for putting myself much more in the thick of things
still think i'm crap at impro and again amazed and delighted with the talent in the room
and again very easy warm fun people to work with

so my memory of today:

warm -up
started in pairs with massage - A bends forward from waist relaxed, B massages back, arms, hips, legs, feet, makes sure neck is free then gently lifts A halfway up to perch on A's knee, then fully up. swap. loverly

warm - up II
walking the space, then finding an extreme way to walk, then running filling the space evenly as a whole group, then hitting the floor but keeping the energy then up and running again, then on all fours with intensity coming together, then eyes fixed on carlos following him, then dead. a lot of the morning is about trying to work as efficient group.

the most complicated version of this i have ever done which failed to untangle ourselves from completely. i remain unconvinced it was ever going to be possible...

ball music
great one this for group working and concentration and giving / taking space:
i] circle. one person in centre with basketball. throws ball out to people in circle who throw back to person in the centre. establish slow easy steady 1-2-1-2 rhythm
ii] once established anyone from circle can call change and replace centre person, receiving the ball in their stead (they go back into the circle). important to keep rhythm, re-establishing before next change if necessary
iii] now change centre person in series of four throws out and back so 1-back-2-back-3-back-4-changed centre - keeping rhythm and remembering to keep the circle out.
iv] now in series of 3 throws
v] now in 2 throws
vi] 1 throw out-change-thrown out-change

making characters part 1
we're each given a slip of paper with a character on it - i got "the hangman"
a wonderful array of dressing up stuff - many + various bright wigs, hats, glasses, rope, white sheets, umbrellas, sticks
i] slow build up throw the body to make the character starting with the feet - knees - groin - shoulders - head - eyes with the idea of creating something larger than life while walking the space
ii] in 2 groups make a dance, following emergent leaders, seeking to work together
iii] from 'lying asleep' on our backs we conceived a deep unfulfilled hunger for our character - grew this to immense proportions - then awake re-entered the community attempting to first show and then later to conceal this hunger from the other characters

quick devised scenes
small groups given a title and asked to make a short performance.
our first was "the execution of virtue" and we did a cool rhythmic thing with genuflections into communion into a congregant (me) who grabs and guzzles the communion wine, becomes disgusting and departs leaving the rest of the congregation to re-establish it's virtuous genuflections.
second go in new groups involved devising (and playing) a new scene without any talking.
we got "exodus of evil" and we went from a cosy cutesey tea party joined by a stranger - evil - and becoming drug taking sex crazed card playing sinners until we collectively blew 'evil' away and were able to resume our innocent tea party.
other groups got "the marriage of mars + venus" and "the birth of spring"
the fun was in finding ways to work together without being able to speak and meant that leading the group became a different kind of skill than the usual 'giving the orders'

making characters part 2
after lunch we swapped our characters with someone else and found a new costume for them. i got "the ice cream seller" to go with my earlier "hangman"
again we spent some time develop a physical character - their walk, posture, rhythm
then we play a game of switching quickly between each of our characters - so i am going dour malignant slow heavy hangman to guileless goofy grinning waving sunny ice cream seller and back again
and then the fun really starts:
i] in groups of 4 each person enters as one of their characters, introduces or establishes themselves quickly and leaves - followed by another character. the rule is you cannot leave the stage empty and there cannot be more than one person onstage at any time
ii] now we play out a scene with our different characters (so for 3 people there are 6 characters to play with in different combinations). the same rule about not leaving the stage empty, altho obviously now there can be more than one person onstage. and each character should always have a definite reason for entering and for leaving the stage. the fun for the audience was when it was played at the greatest speed with characters coming and going fast. the funniest version was a twosome (who needed a dresser behind the screen) another version involved each pair of characters having some kind of live partnership.

"comedy of errors" devised scene
and then it got really crazy. in groups of 3 we got a 1 page run down of part of the "comedy" that we had to play all the characters for between us without losing the plot - which we all eventually did before the end of the sequence - or leaving the stage un-personed at any time.
huge fun failing at this.

Antipholus (S) tells Dromio (S) to go and see if he can get them a ship to sail away on. Dromio (S) departs.

Enter the Goldsmith who gives Antipholus (S) the chain he has made. Antipholus (S) offers money which the Goldsmith refuses.

Enter the Merchant with the Officer. He tells the Officer that the Goldsmith owes him money which he know expects to be paid. the Goldsmith assures him that he can secure this money and pay him what he owes.

Enter Antipholus (E) with Dromio (E) telling him to go and purchase some rope that he can beat his wife. Dromio (E) exits.

The Goldsmith accosts Antipholus (E) and demands the money he is owed. Antipholus (E) says he has had not had the chain and owes nothing until he does so. On the Goldsmith's bidding the Officer arrests Antipholus.

Dromio (S) enters and tells Antipholus (E) that he has secured passage on a ship due for leaving. Antipholus (S) beats him and send him to his house to get money for his bail. Dromio (S) exits.

Dromio (S) and Adrianna get the money for the bail and exit.

Antipholus (S) enters marvelling at how well the people are treating him - giving him gold chains, saluting him, and calling him by name. Dromio (S) enters and gives him the bail money. Antipholus (S) says he is a fool and he knows nothing about this money but is there a ship that will take them away. Dromio (S) yes as he has told him already.

"sutra" (sidi larbi cherkaoui + monks from shaolin temple) ***exceptional experience

tuesday 27th may 2008


sidi larbi cherkaoui ~ direction, choreography + performer
antony gormley ~ visual creation + design
szymon brzoska ~ music + piano
with monks from the shaolin temple:
shi yanbo, shi yanchuang, shi yanci, shi yandong, shi yanhao, shi yanjiao, shi yanjie, shi yanli, shi yanmo, shi yanna, shi yanpeng, shi yanqun, shi yanting, shi yanxing, shi yanyong, shi yanyuan, shi yanzhu

piano ~ szymon brzoska
violin ~ alies sluiter & olga wojciechowska
cello ~ laura anstee
percussion ~ coordt linke

produced by sadlers wells
with the blessing of the abbot of song shan shaolin temple master shi yongxin

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui takes a completely different direction with this brand new Sadler’s Wells production Sutra, which is inspired by the skill, strength and spirituality of Buddhist Shaolin Monks. He has collaborated closely with Antony Gormley who creates a constructed environment for the performers, employing light to dramatic effect. Polish composer Szymon Brzóska has created a brand new score for piano, percussion and strings.

"As a child, Bruce Lee was a role model; not just the characters he portrayed, but the man himself and the world-view he embodied. When he spoke about martial arts, about drawing from nature, from elemental forces, it rang true. Through him, I delved deeper into Kung-Fu, to the Shaolin school of chan Buddhism. Later in life, as a choreographer and a dancer, I was inspired by the Shaolin understanding of movement, their complete identification with the living beings around them, and that remarkable ability to become the essence of a tiger, crane or snake" Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
By visiting the Shaolin Temple in China, and working with the Shaolin Monks over several months, Larbi follows a life-long interest by exploring the philosophy and faith behind the Shaolin tradition, its relationship with Kung-Fu, and its position within a contemporary context.

pretty special. wonderful. humour. design being a live a integral part of the show. stunning acrobatics and disciplined movement. cuteness from the amazing little kid. strong empathetic and evocative music that again worked as a central element in the piece. enormous generosity from larbi standing apart to let the monks dominate. nively balanced in the final sequence where he steps in as one of the gang doing the same high octane king fu.

violent budhism at its finest and most beguiling i suspect. and so i keep a preference for the qi kung of cloud gate's more liquidly powerful "moon water".

Sunday, 25 May 2008

"the lastmaker" (goat island)

saturday 24th may 2008

"the lastmaker"
goat island

part of burst at bac

karen christopher
matthew goulish
lin hixson (director)
mark jeffery
bryan saner
lito' walkey

"After 20 years of creating challenging and highly acclaimed performance, The Lastmaker is Goat Island’s ninth and final piece, a fitting conclusion to the company’s journey.The performance is structured around the form and iconography of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, a site that has been a Byzantine church, a Mosque and a museum over its history. Incorporating the company’s highly energetic and physically demanding choreography, Goat Island explore the layering of these three identities and the complex interweaving of stories and cultures enclosed within the building."

"construct a last performance in the form of a human foot that weighs two tons and remains in good condition."

u vezi sa (croation) ~ in relation with; in connection with, in relation to, in construction to, related to, connected to
vezica (croation) ~ shoelace

"it begins with the building of a mold or prototype, a source to be vanished or set aside for future reproductions, an alphabetic mass, throat sealed, in the absence of the foot or because there never was one, the last maker is not a writer or a cobbler, and his crutch is not separate from his armpit. the task is still not to be new in ending, but to render a massless history of walking with the heaviest material available. "
(judd morrissey, goat island associate member)

"i saw a crow running about with a stork
i marvelled long and investigated their case
in order that i might find the clue
as to what is was that they had in common

when amazed and bewildered i approached them
then indeed i saw that both of them were lame."

(rumi, mathnawi, book II: "the cause of a bird's flying and feeding with a bird that is not of its own kind")

"we'll start the session now.
i'll give you your instructions.

we'll build this song like a house.
bass, you're the plumbing.
drums, you're the electrical.
horns, i want you to think of yourselves as the windows.
guitar, you're the drywall.

everybody ready?
roll the tape."

certainly an interesting experience this one. we liked pretty much all of the ingredients but alas not what it added up to - or at least were unable to get much from it beyond a real interest in the methods and the ingredients worked into the mix.

starting with the programme which is immediately arousing and captivating - i wasn't sure what we'd come to, the programme didn't give me much more of an idea, but it did hugely increase my desire to find out. (aside to m: when we make something we must make a programme as beautiful and surprising as this...)

the performance space is taped out in rectangles - reminiscent of a tennis court - and yet again we sit in traverse (funny the patterns of things - our third traverse show with cheek by jowl's both at barbican). a wooden chair. a microphone on a stand. off - a bench and a mini stepladder.

enter a man. sits on chair. can't remember now what he said but it evoked ideas of realising how best to live only when there is little time left for living - the foolish not-knowing of youth.

enter another man. places a beat box which will play sounds of a horse neighing intermittently throughout the whole show. places a tiny mechanical bird, which will intermittently twitter.

enter saint francis of assisi as larry grayson. larry grayson chat that is quite funny. he says he's been asked to do a turn and after a "well you know, i said i can't do that..." patter, he tells us he's decided to remake the the hagia sophia in istanbul, which he tells us was first a church, then a mosque and now is a museum, from just the materials available in this room.

what follows is a lengthy dance piece involving the full company of 5 performing a series of highly ritualised, precise and repeated movements in and out of sync with each other and punctuated with 'u vezi sa'. the movements are clearly demanding and impressively executed and perhaps it is this effect of obvious display that means we are interested and impressed but only superficially engaged (often thinking: hmm could we do this? how would we make this work more? oh that's smart how they're moving it round to work for the audience on both sides)

other ingredients that follow include ...
+ what seems a pretty spot on enactment of lenny bruce which is accurately weird rather than funny - "i'm not a comedian, i'm lenny bruce."
+ an old poet bent in half to talk straight into the lowered mic in conversation with a woman who may or may not be emily dickenson (this is when we get the crane and the stork reading)
+ a hillbilly singing to a saw played by striking it into vibration with a hammer
+ a woman singing "the perfect end to a perfect day..." the original of which we later get in playback
+ more hi-force precision movements
+ an explanation of what a last is and the different parts that make up a shoe
+ a balsa wood model of the hagia sophia brought in ceremonially and constructed piece by piece, finishing with the two pairs of minarets.

then saint francis returns to intone in perfect if sardonic high mass falling inflexions a series of litanous "we give thanks and say farewell to ..." as he chants off the various aspects of the staging (the microphones, the shoes, the floor tape, the beat boxes, goodbye hagia sophia ...) - i guess this is the link back to making the hagia sophia with the available materials. during this a slow movement of the women standing on planks of wood and and being moved around the stage. while another man performs an utterly bewildering and quite possibly nonsensical kind of poem / rallying call to action - reminiscent of some rhetorical style that i haven't yet been able to place.

and then it's over (running time 2+ hours without interval)

what was it all about?
fuck knows

but very interesting to watch and jammed full of performance ideas that might be fun to play with sometime ...

from the goat island website:

Members contribute to the conception, research, writing, choreography, documentation, and educational demands of the work. Characteristically we attempt to establish a spatial relationship with audiences, other than the usual proscenium theater situation, which may suggest a concept, such as sporting arena or parade ground, or may create a setting for which there is no everyday comparison. We perform a personal vocabulary of movement, both dance-like and pedestrian, that often makes extreme physical demands on the performers, and attention demands on the audience. We incorporate historical and contemporary issues through text and movement. We create visual/spatial images to encapsulate thematic concerns. We place our performances in non-theatrical sites when possible. We research and write collaborative lectures for public events, and often subsequently publish these, either in our own artists' books, or in professional journals.

"the last performance"
judd morrissey
goat island

"the last performance" is a collaborative writing, archiving and text-visualisation project conceived in response to the work of the chicago-based performance collective, goat island, and their decision, after 20 years of practice, to create a last performance.

writers, artists, critics and audience members of "the lastmaker" are invited to contribute.

"the last performance" is devised and built by judd morrissey with goat island.

Friday, 23 May 2008

"troilus and cressida" (cheek by jowl)

unfinished posting

friday 23rd may 2008

"troilus and cressida"

by william shakespeare

cheek by jowl

bite 08 at the barbican

the company

The Trojan War, the defining legend of western literature, is stripped to its raw heart in Shakespeare’s scathing satire on glory, chivalry and doomed love. After seven years of fighting, the Greeks and the Trojans have reached a stalemate. As each renews its thirst for bloodshed, they discover that heroes and heroines do not only fall in battle. By turns terrifying, hilarious, and passionate Troilus and Cressida will be Cheek by Jowl’s most ambitious, large-scale production to date. This four week run as part of bite08 is the only opportunity to see Cheek by Jowl’s English language work in the UK this year.

The Trojan War, the defining legend of western literature, is stripped to its raw heart in Shakespeare’s scathing satire on glory, chivalry and doomed love. After seven years of fighting, the Greeks and the Trojans have reached a stalemate. As each renews its thirst for bloodshed, they discover that heroes and heroines do not only fall in battle. By turns terrifying, hilarious, and passionate Troilus and Cressida will be Cheek by Jowl’s most ambitious, large-scale production to date.
This four week run as part of bite08 is the only opportunity to see Cheek by
Jowl’s English language work in the UK this year.

Troilus and Cressida, Barbican,

Soldiers are hailed as homecoming heroes in Shakespeare's Trojan tragedy
By Kate BassettSunday, 1 June 2008

Complaints have been raised that our troops, these days, do not get cheered. That isn't the case in Cheek by Jowl's modern-dress production of Troilus and Cressida,
Shakespeare's Trojan War saga newly staged by Declan Donnellan. On the Barbican's reconfigured stage, the traverse set (designed by Nick Ormerod) is a long strip of khaki canvas. It suggests a sandy battlefield but also functions as a parade, almost a

Troy's warriors return from their daily conflicts waving proudly to the sound of roaring crowds. They are really soldiers-cum-sporting heroes in their
butch vests, training shoes and what look like cricket pads refashioned by Darth Vader (not wholly convincing). Oliver Coleman's Paris and his trophy-babe, Marianne Oldham's Helen, go on to pose for a photo-shoot in the style of Mr and
Mrs Beckham.

Obviously, that's satirical, but this production is low on sardonic bite and decadent sleaze. Aside from King Priam being bedridden, there's not much sense of a stagnant siege, of the city having taken a battering or of the encamped Greeks really festering. David Collings's linen-suited Pandarus hardly acts seedy at all as he hustles his niece
Cressida into bed with Troilus, and he appears to be dying of TB at the end,
rather than the pox. On the Grecian side, likewise, the bilious cynical commentary on love and war is weakly delivered by Richard Cant's cross-dressing Thersites.

Still, maybe we've had enough obviously fetid productions of Troilus, and Donellan's
innovations – which often deliberately run against the grain of the lines – can be refreshing. Oldham's gorgeous Helen drifts through in a white evening dress as the Prologue, talking about the war with a lightly chilling flippancy, and she haunts the play thereafter. She wanders in whenever men speak of her, like an obsessive memory in the mind's eye – such psychological ghosts being a Donnellan trademark.

Also very clear here is that the titular hero and heroine are a Romeo and Juliet
messed up by war. Alex Waldmann's small, immature Troilus is innately loving, kissing his sick father repeatedly. At the same time, he has a hysterical streak comparable to that of his war-traumatised sister, Cassandra. His insecurity keeps twisting his ardour for Cressida into wary retreats when he's wooing, and then into feverish manhandling when he learns that she must be sent packing to the potentially seductive Greek camp. Lucy Briggs-Owen is a touching Cressida, an
essentially shy, bruised adolescent who is pushed around by the men in her life and
forced into brazenness to survive.

Donnellan often draws exceptional performances out of young actors. Briggs-Owen and Oldham are certainly names to watch. There are a few stiff performances, but the production gains fluidity with interwoven scenes. Dressed up as a crooning cabaret Helen, Thersites rather wonderfully gets both armies slow-dancing together, and Ryan Kiggell's Ulysses is a riveting manipulative bureaucrat, looking timidly bespectacled as he clutches surveillance files.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

rambert dance company

wednesday 21st may 2008

rambert dance company

American choreographer Doug Varone, described as a ‘craftsman' of irresistible intensity, uses his extraordinary musical instincts to present his first work for Rambert. Inspired by composer John Adam's flamboyant Chamber Symphony, Varone draws on the comic exaggeration and the energy in the music, to create a daringly complex work set in an off-kilter world with touches of urgency and humour.
Doug joined Rambert in December 2007 to begin work on this exhilarating new commission for Rambert which will be presented as part of Rambert's 2008 spring tour, and made its world première at His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen on 20 February 2008.

Carnival of the Animals
Set to Saint-Saëns' beautiful and melodic music, Carnival of the Animals is arguably Siobhan Davies' most popular and endearing work. Re-invigorated for the 21st century the work re-unites Rambert dancers with this outstanding, Olivier Award-winning artist.

Anatomica #3
Renowned for his breakneck, athletic movement, Canadian choreographer André Gingras explores the idea of the human body as exhibition site in this high energy work for a large cast.
Featuring an original score from one of the most powerful and intriguing young composers in the UK, Joseph Hyde, and designs from former Rambert dancer, Fabrice Serafino, this exciting project was Gingras' first collaboration with Rambert.
Premièred at Theatre Royal, Brighton, 23 February 2007

at sadlers wells theatre

Rambert Dance Company is Britain’s premier contemporary dance company. Its drama, scale and spectacle continue to thrill and inspire audiences of all ages from across the UK and throughout the world. Carnival of the Animals is arguably Siobhan Davies’ most popular and endearing work. This brand new production by Britain’s most accomplished female choreographer is set to Saint-Saëns’ beautiful and melodic music. Re-invigorated for the 21st century the work re-unites Rambert’s dancers with this outstanding artist. American choreographer Doug Varone has extraordinary musical instincts and has been described as a ‘craftsman’ of irresistible intensity. His work is daring and accessible, often laced with wit and rich in emotional detail. His latest work, Scribblings, with Rambert’s sensational dancers will make its London premiere this spring. Andre Gingras’ surprising and exuberant Anatomica #3 is thought-provoking and breathtaking, making a perfect climax to this programme of work.

Judith Mackrell
Thursday May 22, 2008
The Guardian
Charm is the most elusive of qualities: it cannot be worked at; it comes as a gift. But it is a quality that Siobhan Davies ensnared back in 1982 when she created Carnival of the Animals for Second Stride. And it has been preserved in this current revival for Rambert, as has Davies' skill in choreographing characters who flicker between animal and human and who sustain a witty conversation with Saint-Saëns's score.

Davies' eye for the image that defines each of the 14 sections is wonderfully acute, from the fastidious, scratchy walk of the rooster and hens, to the gliding elegance of the solitary swan. Pure genius is the lovelorn cuckoo who mimes a beating heart to the dying fall of its own musical call.

In this current triple bill, Carnival is sandwiched between two much noisier and more muscular works: a revival of André Gingras's Anatomica #3 and a new work by Doug Varone. Scribblings is set to John Adams's Chamber Symphony, a score crammed with such clashing jangling cross rhythms that it spills out of the orchestra pit like the unravelling innards of a broken clock.

In the first of its three sections Varone harnesses the music's energy with dance of unbroken ferocity: clumps of bodies that hurtle from side to side of the stage, individual phrases that slam and rebound back on themselves. In the middle duet, however, Varone loses his focus. Although the two dancers sustain the elastic dynamic of the choreography, the thread of connection between them, and to the music, no longer holds.

actually for me i found the first two ("scribblings" and "carnival") pretty light weight, albeit "carnival was pleasingly so. hence my borrowing this review which i pretty much agree with if with rather less excitement for "carnival".
but the huge high came for me in the final piece "anatomica#3" which was much more dynamic and fearless and exciting and wow i thought showed the incredible dancers' abilities in ways that the first two pieces did not.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

"boris godunov" (cheek by jowl / chekhov international theatre festival)

friday 16th may 2008

"boris godunov"
by alexander pushkin

cheek by jowl

director ~ declan donnellan
designer ~ nick ormerod
lighting designer ~ judith greenwood
music director ~ maxim gutkin
choreographer ~ irina filippova
declan donnellan's interpreter & literary consultant ~ dina dodina
assistant directors ~ evgeny pisarev, anna kolesnokova
technical director ~ vladimir kizeev

the company:
gavirila pushkin, pushkin's nephew/shcheklalov, the duma scribe ~ alexy dadonov
boris godunov, the russian tsar ~ alexander feklistov
marina mnishek, yuri mnishek's daughter ~ irina grineva
prince vorotynsky/russian prisoner ~ ilia ilin
father varlaam/karela, the cossack ~ nikolay khmelev
owner of the tavern ~ olga khokholva
poet ~ leonid krasovitsky
grigori otrepyev, a young monk ~ evgeny mironov
prince vasily shuisky ~ sergey lanbamin
father misail/nikolka, the god's fool ~ alexander lenkov
feodor, boris' son/russian boy ~ nikta lukinsarovitch
sobansky/baliff ~ evgeny plekanov
semyon godunov/prince kurbsky ~ dimitry shcherbina
patriarch/yuri mnishek, the polish nobleman ~ oleg vavilov
pimen, the monk/pushkin ~ igor yasulovich
tsarevna xenia, boris daughter ~ elena zakharova
father superior/chief baliff/catholic priest/basmanov, army leader ~ mikhail zhigalov

at the barbican

Pushkin's lyrical masterpiece is a gripping exposé of the seductive appeal of power and the terrible price that must be paid for it. Money, corruption, sex and blood thicken this sinuous and radical play, inspired by Shakespeare's histories.

background to the text:
"boris godunov" was written in 1825 (the same year as the decembrist uprising) when alexander pushkin was in exile on his family's estate. while working on this play, pushkin studied many chronicles, historical treatises, saint's biographies, ancient russian scripts and folk legends, and was particualorly inspired by the work of william shakespeare and the publication of karamazin's "history of russia" in 1824.

"the survey of shakespeare, of karamazin, of our ancient chronicles, gave me the idea to turn into a a dramatic way one of the most tragic eras of modern histroy. i imitated shakespeare's style in what concerns the large and free desrciptions of characters, for extraordinary types, construction and his simplicity. i followwed karamazin in his clear development of events and finally, in the chronicles, i did my best to find out what could have been the form of thinking and speaking at the time."

pushkin was fond of history. his library contained about four hundred historical and philosophical works, and he had read many of the french, english and german authors with revolutionary ideas on history and philosophy.

pushkin disobeys the rules of french tragedy, then dominating the russian stage. disdaining the racinian model there is neither unity of time nor of place. the action unfolds from the 20th february 1598 to 10th june 1605 - a little more than seven years. the play is cut into twenty three little scenes that unfold in numerous different locations - in moscow, in poland, and on the plains of russia. having finished "boris godunov" alexander sergeevitch wrote to his friend vlazemsky:

"my tragedy is written: i was reading it aloud to myself, alone, sat there clapping my hands and shouting "well done, pushkin, well done, son of a bitch ..."
before the play begins . . .
1584 ~ ivan the terrible, the first duke of all russia who had officially called himself "tsar" dies. having murdered his heir in a drunken rage, the throne passses to his next son, feodor. feodor's close friend and brother-in-law, boris godunov, effectively governs russia.

1591 ~ in the city of uglitch, ivan the terrible's youngest son, dimitry, is murdered. a suspicion arises that it is boris who has ordered the child's murder. this plan would ease boris' path to the throne on the death of dimitry's brother tsar feodor.

1598 ~ tsar feodor dies. none of ivan the terrible's sons remain alive so the most likely candidate for the throne - popular with the people and well experienced in managing the state during feodor's reign - is boris godunov.

after the play ends . . .
1605 ~ grigori otrepyev, posing as the tsarevich dimitry, successfully usurps the russian throne, marries the catholic marina mnishek, proclaims her tsarina and together with her reigns over all russia. judging by the reports of foreign ambassadors to his court, he made a clever ruler.

1606 ~ count vasily shuisky, who had been pardoned by the imposter, organises a conspiracy against him. basmanov dies trying to defend the imposter. ultimately the imposter is captured, horribly murdered, and his remains are ground up with gunpowder and shopt from a cannon from the kremlin walls in the direction of poland. shuisky is crowned tsar and rules russia until 1610.

mairina mnishek
after the death of the imposter grigoro otrepyev, his widown marina mnishek's life was spared on the condition that she renounce her title and return to poland. undaunted by her first short-lived reign as tsarina and with help from her father, marina made her way to tushino, a small village north of moscow, where she recognised another young man as her husband back from the dead. polish politician stansilav zolkiewski wrote in his memoirs, that the only two things false dimitrys i and ii had in common was that " they were both human and usurpers." this marriage soon went the way of her first.

after the death of false dimitry ii in december of 1610, marina mnishek attached herself to the cossack ivan zarutsky who attempted to bring her son, ivan dmitryevich (son of the imposter) to the throne. after her third plan to usurp the russian throne failed, mnishek fled south to astrakhan where the people led an uprising in 1614 aimed solely at capturing and ejecting marina and her family from the city. they fled into the steppes, and there attempted to raise support for a cossack uprising. they were eventually captured in 1614.

ivan zarutsky and mnishek's son ivan were executed and mariuna died in prison soon afterwards.

By Paul Taylor
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
The Independent

Most people know the story of Boris Godunov only through Mussorgsky's opera. Thanks to Declan Donnellan and Russian company Cheek by Jowl, we now have a rare chance to experience Pushkin's original 1825 play. In a thrilling modern-dress version, it emerges as a mordant commentary on the instabilities of power and the repetitive nature of tyranny, and it crackles with edgy, topical relevance.
The play poses a challenge to directors: not only is it restlessly episodic and labour-intense in terms of casting, it also lacks a conventional climax. There's no big showdown between the two rivals for the throne. Having murdered his way to the top, Tsar Boris is challenged by a young pretender, a runaway monk who claims to be the boy allegedly eliminated. Frustratingly, the two never met. Undaunted, Donnellan finds imaginative solutions to this problem and arrives at a unified vision of the piece.
The point about the warring opponents is that they are both fundamentally impostors and the production, in overlapping scenes, highlights that thematic kinship. For example, Grigory, the made-over monk, surfaces like the emanation of a bad conscience, eerily replacing the spectre of the child-victim as Alexander Feklistov's boorish Boris broods over his guilt.
Pushkin's crucial insight is that the pretender's supporters don't care whether he's fake: Grigory here acts like a game show host who welcomes his cheer-leaders with a slick insincerity. The theatre audience, seated on either side of the catwalk stage, are treated like the Russian mob to these cynical, showbiz exercises.
Andrey Kuzichev's excellent Grigory has just the right slippery quality as the protean pretender who sheds disguises like skins. His seduction of a Polish noblewoman proceeds by comic fits and starts. When he confesses his true identity, she allows him to resume once assured of his mad self-conviction. Power is the sexual turn-on; principle is utterly discounted.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

*** "in spitting distance" (rukab project)

wednesday 14th may 2008

"in spitting distance"
by taher najib
performed by khalifa natour
offra henig ~ director and musical editor
jackie shemesh ~ lighting
ariella eshed ~ english translation

at the pit, barbican bite 08

barbican press release
Rukab Project: In Spitting Distance

"...the barbican brings rukab project, a theatre collective comprised of director ofira henig, writer taher najib and actor khalifa natour, to london for the first time with "in spitting distance". "in spitting distance" is both a funny and disturbing exposure of problems faced by many travellers since the 9/11 attacks. khalifa natour eloquently tells the
story of a palestinian actor with an israeli passport trying to travel from
paris to tel aviv. an encounter with airport security prompts a thorough reflection of the struggles experienced by those whose
countries are under occupation. performed with fearless black humour and based on a similarly farcical and infuriating true-life experience, the play is a tireless and enigmatic look at ordinary lives touched by present-day conflict. "in spitting distance" is performed in arabic with english surtitles. ofira henig is considered to be one of israel’s leading theatre directors and is currently artistic director of herzliya new ensemble. prior to this she was artistic director of the jerusalem khan theatre. in 2005 taher najib took part in the royal court’s international residency for emerging playwrights where he wrote In "in spitting distance". khalifa natour won the best actor award at the 2006
theatronetto festival in tel aviv for his performance of In "in spitting distance". he also starred in the critically acclaimed film the band’s visit (2006) which played at last year’s london film festival

this was a great experience marred only by the speed and sometimes ineptness of the surtitles. both the language and the performance were full and rich and we wanted to take them in fully, but often the surtitles came and went in an impossible flash.

but this was still an exceptional show. the humour and recognition and insights offered by this story and the life force and humour and freshness and honesty and simplicity with which it was performed was a model for a solo show i could aspire to emulate.

notable moments:

+ the recurring tai chi resonant fighting/rowing/punting/pulling ritual movement that he opens with

+ the early soliloquy on spitting

+ his being stuck halfway between the theatre (work) and home during an attack: to run home for safety or continued un-terrorised to work (altho with the question: who would go to the theatre on a night like this?)

+ his conversation in (untranslated) french at the charles de gaule check-in desk

+ his laughter in the parisian park at how things have turned out growing to manic then disguising the crazy by pretending a mobile phone conversation

+ his arrival on to the delayed and full plane as the 'cause of the problem'

+ his seeing the 9/ll attack planes footage for the first time on the Tel Aviv security room t.v.

+ his comment that "no this has not been my day in any way...!" in response to the apparently neutral but question: how was your day?

from the programme ...

offra henig's director's notes:

when the second intifada began in israel and palestine, i was living in jerusalem/el kuds trying to survive the bombs, trying desperately to maintain contact with my friends in ramallah and even trying to complete a theatre project.

all my life as an adult, i have lived between two realities and two cultures. on one hand, being a jew born in israel and speaking my native language, and on the other, living with a strong intellectual curiosity about the 'other' culture, searching for justice and feeling a deep sense of shame as a result of the occupation. for the past 20 years, i have dealt with the issue of colonialism, particularly cultural colonialism. but the second intifada moved my life, shook and transformed it, and turned this curiosity, mixed with shame, into a way of life.

in 2003 the playwright taher najib brought me a play in hebrew that was meant to be performed in front of hebrew spectators. i knew taher as an actor because we had worked together a few times, so we read the play all night and in the morning i agreed to direct it. i said yes because it was a personal story, which crossed all political borders. the play touched upon me as an artist, an israeli citizen and a human being. i understood that i could create a space and stage for taher and khalifa to tell their stories. while it is not my personal story, they are my friends and i know their situation very well. i live alongside it every day. so this is my artistic and moral role - and it's beyond political demonstration.

the rukab project has become a small island of sanity in an insane reality. it's not a way to prove the possibilities of co-existence; it's a way to survive. since the premiere of "in spitting distance" in 2006 we have translated the play into arabic and continue to perform it to anyone who would like to listen to a story that is told differently, a story that you will never read in the newspapers.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

"harper regan" (simon stephens)

tuesday 13th may 2008

"harper regan"

by simon stephens

harper regan ~ lesley sharp

elwood barnes (haroer's boss) ~ michael mears

tobias rich (the young man harper meets on the bridge) ~ troy glasgow

seth regan (harper's husband) ~ nick sidi

sarah regan (harper's daughter) ~ jessica raine

justin ross (the nurse who tells harper her father has died) ~ jessica harris

mickey nestor (the cokehead drunk harper glasses) ~ jack deam

james fortune (the man harper sleeps with) ~ brian capron

alison woolley (harper's mother) ~ susan brown

duncan woolley (harper's mother's second husband) ~ eamon boland

mahesh aslam (the labourer who tells harper about living with his father's death) ~ nitin kundra

director ~ marianne elliott

designer ~ hildgard bechtler

lighting designer ~ chris davey

sound designer ~ ian dickinson

fight director ~ alison de burgh

company voice work ~ jeannette nelson

at cottlesloe, national theatre

mixed jury on this one. sarah and i liked it, colin and martyn much less so

after much talk i think this play was trying to show harper's journey out from the people and events that are crashing her life through a series of fairly minor transgressions (smashing a bottle into the face of an obnoxious drunk and sleeping with a stranger) to return home with freedom and power to choose her own destiny: to try to make the life with the family she loves work somehow. in this way it is what simon stephens says he wanted to make: a story about living in the absence of the gods as opposed to euripides world where people must live through their pre-determined fates in the presence of the gods.

lots good about it. the production is strong and makes it more theatre than television. and i liked harper's stillness while the various characters in her world act at her, on her, around her. and its great that this a rite of passage / breaking free story belongs to a woman and challenges us to make a double standard judgement about her going off that we would not make for a man doing the same.

the problem is that her very attractive and mostly constant liberal humanism and tolerance (except with her mother) perhaps makes for a pretty bland character: she is everywoman /everyman as i would wish us to be, but watching this in action can be less than compelling.

altho actually i did enjoy watching her. i liked her. the big fat flaw of this play for me is the final fantasy speech her husband gets. we are really interested in harper not him, so who the fuck cares what his fantasy might be. and why are we getting fantasy at the end when we are supposedly in a world where people are the makers of their own destinies. maybe we are to think that - as throughout the story - harper is alone her understanding about this.

and the racism (anti Jews, anti polish, anti black) is gratuitous and bothersome and irritates the story. we're not given enough time or information to read anything from this and instead are just jarred out of synch with the story for a bit until we realise this has just been a tabloid headline and is irrelevant to anything else that we are going to see and hear.

liked the pre-show talk with marianne elliott and simon stephens talking to dan rebellato. remembered moments are:

+ the play ends with a meal because i think prepoaring a meal is an intrinsically optimistic act ... i think this is a bleak play with an optimistic heart, where my previous plays have often been optimistic plays with bleak hearts (simon stephens)

+ the play is not like a male orgasm with a race along one line to the big bang climax, but rather a female orgasm with lots of ripplings out from the centre and multiple climaxes

Monday, 12 May 2008

"the real lecoq" (carlos cegarra, performers' playground)

monday 12th may 2008

"the real lecoq"
workshop led by carlos cegarra
performers' playground
warhorse theatre works

LISPA graduate and physical performer, Carlos Ceggara, will take us deeper into this technique abused by many and understood by few. We will explore presence, intensity and interaction as tools to become a more precise performer—as well as some things Carlos won’t reveal to me until the night!

another happy workout at the thanet with wendy + hayley's performers playground.
tonight from carlos we worked through:

spring to feet from kneeling

walking, using the space, finding neutral, neutral with energy, neutral zapped up and heightened

spontaneously fall in to step with an other - let it happen naturally. play with getting in to synch so you no longer know who is leading
with partner develop a movement together that works together - add a shout - "this is the way we mo down the enemy!" - "this is the way we go to work!"

develop a counter movement - start with clapping - develop together
perform with an everyday conversation - experiment with what happens when in rhythm and when in counter-rhythms when agreeing with each other and disagreeing with each other (hard to stay in synch when not conversationally in harmony)

playing with a ordinary action - i was ironing- work thru 6 moments:
i - there is a noise but you don't hear it
ii - you hear the noise this time but are not worried
iii - you hear the noise and start to take notice
iv - this time you are really worried
v - no - it's nothing - it's fine
vi - you are hit by a plane flying into the house
develop to find the progression through, aiming for what will be read with clarity and interest by audience
(fantastic this - hope it locks in for use in the future)

then playing through a series of impro setups, played in silence, and trying to make the silence dramatically true, so looking for ways to move the scene in ways that do not draw into conversation:

+ 2 chairs. a restuarant. A notices B. Little by little A realises that B is flirting with you. Secret signs. Little by little build until B stands up and then goes to meet someone beyond A - it was not you B was flirting with after all

+ 2 chairs. 4 people have been invited to the home of a rich old lady. the room is filled with expensive things. the people do not know each other. enter one by one

+ 4-5 chairs. a doctors surgery but the reception window is closed. enter 6 strangers one by one.

+ solo. you hear your lottery numbers come up as the winning ticket. you have won millions. you can't find your ticket. your ticket is lost.

notes to self: still tussling with how to accept and build on what others bring to the scene without that having to mean agreeing with their position. would have been more interesting in my doctor's surgery scene if i had taken and opposed - even battled out - the challenges that others were offering. at least i am picking them up i guess. but i still have several zillions of miles to go before i start to bring what i want in to impro scenes. so much happier and at ease with more stylised approaches like last week's using ritual w'shop with arhi and today's exercise working through the 6 moments

"lifted" (stacey makishi)

saturday 10th may 2008

devised by stacy makishi +
performed by stacy makishi +
at lyric hammersmith as lyric first performance

"the birthday party" (harold pinter)

friday 9th may 2008
unfinished posting

"the birthday party"
by harold pinter
at lyric hammersmith
50th anniversary production