Saturday, 28 June 2008
goldsmiths “making performance” graduate show 2008
A Festival of eight Final Shows from the MA in Performance Making 2008, Department of Drama, Goldsmiths
24-28 June 2008
Eight ways of moving.
Eight ways of telling.
Eight ways of testing the thresholds of performance.
Surge showcases the diverse work of emerging artists from Latin America, Asia, Africa, Europe and the UK over five days. Spanning physical theatre, live art, dance and performance installation, the pieces celebrate the immediacy and power of live performance encounter.
Performances take place in and around Goldsmiths Campus and in the Greenwich Tunnel.
The MA in Performance Making at Goldsmiths brings together talented emerging and practising artists from a wide range of artistic and geographic backgrounds. This multidisciplinary course is a laboratory and meeting point in London for artists to collaborate, develop their skills and to rethink the ways in which live performance is created. During the course of the Surge festival of 8 shows over 2 days, the public will have the opportunity to take the pulse of contemporary performance in times of limbo and crisis, from a range of international points of view and approaches.
This years projects have been supported by a team of visiting professional artists that include: Graeme Miller, Zeljko Hrs, Geraldine Pilgrim, Mischa Twitchin and Jack Klaff.
“wukong and the tiger share a moment’s repose”
Dafne Louzioti // Greece
Gary Tang // Singapore
how long do we spend waiting?
how long does a breath last?
what if time didn’t matter?
the temporal interstice of or waiting is put under the microscope in an exploration of individual and social patterns of behaviour.
Dafne Louzioti and Gary Tang are cartographers of time in a quest to define the uncharted territory, manipulating the very fabric of time in the process.
Gary Tang and Dafne Louzioti share between them work in theatre, dance and visual art. an interest in finding common ground in seemingly disparate cultures is the driving force in this collaboration and informs both the process and the resulting performance. the dynamics of yin and yang, eternally opposed but inextricably bound together are a crucial element in this work.
time. yin and yang.
projected patterns and digital countdowns in a white space – the performers in white tops and brown trousers
chairs. words about time. chaotic movement in burst of energy without a pattern alongside a slow steady sequential regimental placement of the chairs.
moments of clashing and stasis
soundtracks coming into my head like half-remembered smells
"a man stands before a wall"
the violence of ripping things apart
a return to the stillness of things as they were when we entered
Catalina del Castillo // Colombia
pigeon performance of pigeon life in a crazy pigeon world.
let the pigeon surge!
Catalina del Castillo is a Colombian artist born in Bogotá in 1981. in 2005 she obtained a BA in contemporary dance in Caracas, Venezuela. her performance research has its background in the languages of dance, circus and activism. she has participated in dance festivals and circus conventions in Colombia, Venezuela and Uruguay as choreographer, performer and teacher.
a clown angel.
bright green props suspended on wires - a radio that plays different music and george bush declaring war in the name of peace. a spray of perfume. a kettle and a cup-for tea and a cone of popcorn. 3 white "egg" juggling balls. a broom. a red heart-shaped purse. pink boots. white (angel) wings and a white shift tied with pink ribbon that she puts on to do her ritualised angelic sequence of posing and smiling under “peace on earth” banners in multiple languages. destroyer planes. a bomb. the white eggs lost. looking everywhere – including through the audience – with some clown-tripping and bag searching – desperate but not quite dispelling the humour. the little toy alarms and she makes her angelic peace routine again.
more charming than substantial
“and whose heart is not a hungry fish?”
Jocelyn Chua // Singapore
“a heart is a piece of muscle like any other in the human body. it is elastic. it can stretch. it can scar… it is sometimes also prone to doing stupid things.”
a journey through the forbidden territories that belie our human love affairs, this performance combines movement choreography with documentary reports and personal stories through the eyes of a singaporean woman.
Jocelyn is a published writer and theatre performer from Singapore.
A one- woman show about being a graduate singaporean woman and thus “an essential part of the gene pool who therefore should not be left on the shelf” and her experiences dating older foreign men.
it could have been trite or cute or indulgent but in fact it was none of these things. instead it was smart and sassy and funny and grown up and completely engaging
involved a combo of dance with a movement sequence which was repeated in different ways -once on her back, with and without speech.
she also manages to incorporate some harder-hitting connections with prostitution and war and invasion
her performance style is completely guileless and beguiling. her language similarly is immediate and vital and somehow delivers absolutely through the center.
riveting throughout and her immediacy with us in the audience never felt threatening in any way (even during her predatory sequence to me as an older foreign man sitting center front row)
Bruno Humberto // Portugal
Borja Sagasti Inurrieta // Spain
“One, two. Are you there?”
this performance explores division and bipolarity. division within ourselves, division between me and you, between us and them. bipolarity as our contemporary syndrome, between left and right, North and South, East and West. absurd, personal and mythological narratives come together through the languages of physical theatre, sound and installation.
+ born in Portugal in 1981. performer, deviser, self-taught composer. Bruno studied media and culture research and has been doing site-sepcific performanvce since 2004. he is based in london where he is part of the collective poemstomyotherself http://www.poemstomyotherself.org.uk/
+ born in spain Borja started his theatre studies in Barcelona focusing on the methodologies in jaques lecoq’s techniques of physical theatre. he co-founded the performance theatre company ‘Fang Fastik’ in Barcelona and from 1992 – 2002 collaborated with various theatre companies including ‘la fura dels baus’, ‘els comediiants’ and ‘monty cia’. in 2006 Borja toured with ‘generating company’ for the show “hard drive”. last year he finished the advance course in ‘creating theatre’ at the london international school of performing arts.
this was the most popular show of the night and for me the most perplexing.
apparently an exploration into bipolarism – which perhaps watching it I was trying to take too literally - it involved two guys each with a kazoo and a walkie-talkie.
again a lot of use was made of the chairs 9same white as space as dafne’s + gary’s performance).
so we began standing around the edges as if in an installation and then were allowed to sit once they had been laid out in rows for us. throughout this there is much “One, two. Are you there?” and again a clear distinction between the order of one (“don’t get so emotional”) and the frenetic panicked movements and hiding under the chair of the other. but “we have to do this.” “ok so let’s do it” “let’s do it now” brought the two men together in the center under a radio mike to circle their different moments to the kazoo accompaniment from the other.
and it was then a love story and its best moments were in these simple declarations: “is there anything better than to need and be needed?"
at the end adoring house erupted.
but a lot of it was marred for me by (apparently) funny words i couldn't hear and impossible sight- lines I couldn’t see the enough of the action i couldn't see through a pity 'cos everyone else seemed to love it and the two cute performers who made it.
and in 2 years time in june 2010 one of these shows will be the one i made. as i turn 50....
Friday, 27 June 2008
black arm band
'An astonishing array of Australian musical talent telling the story of Aboriginal resistance' - The Age
Featuring artists Archie Roach, Ruby Hunter, Shane Howard, Dan Sultan, Bart Willoughby, Dave Arden, Shellie Morris, Emma Donovan, Joe Geia, Kutcha Edwards, Lou Bennett, Mark Atkins, Rachel Maza Long, Stephen Pigram, Ursula Yovich and Peter Rotumah.With parallels to Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club comes the inspirational music from Australia’s black protest movement, performed by contemporary Aboriginal musicians and their collaborators; and introduced by actor Pete Postlethwaite (In the Name of the Father, Brassed Off).
For the first time outside Australia, Murundak, a 28-piece ensemble, accompanied by a backdrop of film images, reveals a largely hidden, sometimes confronting and ultimately uplifting portrait of contemporary Aboriginal life and the heartfelt music that accompanies it.
‘It’s like a condensed history as well as a contemporary journey into the
Australian landscape: cultural, political and spiritual‘ – Times
Thursday, 26 June 2008
national theatre of scotland
By Gregory Burke
Directed by John Tiffany
We were on our feet at the end of this- brilliantly realised, brilliantly performed - powerful compelling theatre at its very very best
Barbican Theatre again in traverse
We walk into swirling lights and the pipes - the atmosphere of a military tattoo
At each end are a pair of TV screens showing a billowing Scottish flag
The lights sweep over the stage (parade ground?) and us on each bank of seats facing across from each other.
“Ladies and gentlemen please welcome the Black Watch…”
And out comes Stewarty in civvies talking to us
This show was exceptional in many different aspects- and the combination of all these together:
1- it was told with great care and truthfulness. you felt it really mattered to them to get these guy's stories right, to tell it as it really was for them. And it always felt true and honest all the way thru
2. The performers were all totally believable as soldiers -so much so that i never once found myself thinking ‘who is playing which other roles?’ (the same actor -Michael Nardone - plays both the writer and the sergeant but i didn’t think about this until the curtain call. the men are all completely recognisable from my brief time in the army and this is all the more impressive given that they are required to dance and perform some very theatrical sequences including dance. it all feels completely right- the swearing-every-second-word, the endless waiting around inventing games to stay amused, the constant talk about sex (in the absence of any other way to talk about feelings and share intimacy with each other), the picking on the 'stupid' one who always seems out of sync with the conversation
3 . And then this story is performed with a rich blend of different styles - physical theatre / dance to show the battle drills, the fighting between each other and in the last spectacular sequence of parade ground marching-falling-dying-getting up-marching. We also get singing and one soldier plays the pipes to accompany the removal of their killed buddies after the suicide bomb. We even get the history of the Black Watch and its different uniforms and masters through the ages
The screens are used to show bombing action surveillance camera views (which creates a strong sense of place outside), and football in the bar scenes back home in Scotland. oh and a brief bit of porn.
The traverse works well this time especially with the use of different heights
Also memorable and effective
The red billiard table which is cut through to release the soldiers on watch immediately after the first bar scene; which is then later used as a ‘wagon’ on which five soldiers are contained together forced too close to each other and stuck waiting for backup in transit; the two soldiers sunbathing with their pants around their ankles so they are technically still battle-ready; and the slow-mo on wires death through the explosion of the three soldiers killed by the suicide bomber
Everything in this show is got absolutely right
Time Out ****** The Guardian***** The Sunday Times***** Metro***** Evening Standard***** Sunday Telegraph*****
'One of the few shows anywhere in the UK that could be described as perfect; it was a vision of how theatre could be.’ The Daily Telegraph
Multi-award-winning Black Watch received unanimous critical acclaim at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival and on its subsequent Scottish and international tours. Hurtling from a pool room in Fife to an armoured wagon in a war zone, the play is based on interviews conducted by Gregory Burke with former soldiers who served in Iraq. Viewed through the eyes of those on the ground, Black Watch reveals what it means to be part of the legendary Scottish regiment, what it means to be part of the war on terror, and what it means to make the journey home again. A visceral, complex and urgent piece of theatre.
The National Theatre of Scotland exists to build a new generation of theatre-goers as well as reinvigorating the existing ones; to create theatre on a national and international scale that exceeds expectations of what and where theatre can be. The National Theatre of Scotland has no building, so the entire focus is on creating work. Performance is created in great theatre spaces, but also in site specific locations, community halls and drill halls, car parks and forests. The company has won a clutch of awards including a South Bank Show award for Black Watch and a Critics' Circle Award for director John Tiffany.
Gregory Burke also recently won the Best Play Writers' Guild Award for Black Watch.
‘… rich, exciting, humane and moving, and staged with dazzling virtuosity by John Tiffany.’ Evening Standard
'...a glowing ensemble production… worked even better in a reconfigured Barbican...’ The Guardian
'John Tiffany's stunning production....confirms its place as the modern theatre's best piece about British soldiering...' Whatsonstage.com
Reviews from 2006 Edinburgh Fringe Festival
‘A magnificent piece of social and political theatre. A high point not just of the festival but of the theatrical year.’ The Observer
‘No film could ever match the power and immediacy of this portrait of war; it’s a triumph for the National Theatre of Scotland.’ Time Out ******
‘One of the most exhilarating pieces of theatre seen for years.’ The Guardian*****
‘This wasn’t simply the sensation of the Edinburgh Fringe, but one of the few shows anywhere in the UK that could be described as perfect; it was a vision of how theatre could be.’ The Telegraph*****
‘Not just the hit of the Edinburgh Festival, it was also the most viscerally exciting thing I’d seen there for a decade.’ Sunday Times*****
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
A story told with such honesty and care and belief and humour - tackling the big issues of our times (global warming, china’s exploitation of planet + people, the difficulties of carrying a secular sensibility into fundamentally religious lands, living out multi-cultural relationships) in- ways that were recognisable and true without ever falling into stereotype or platitude or preaching
And unlike last night's “marguerite” this show gave us the personal story alongside he big story - played out as a battle between the gods for domination of the earth using Peking Opera forms. this was coupled this with the book Ken carries with him that lists the strange monsters and creatures - locusts, snakes, dragons, tiger-striped beasts - and what each of these bring with their appearance -deceit, drought, flood locusts -all presented as nightmares emanating out of Ken's fever.
And inside these global battles (which culminate in the earth’s near incineration under a sky of 10 suns that have to be systematically shot down by the archer god to bring us another chance for renewed survival) the personal story of 5 friends from very different backgrounds, all very recognisable as 21st century Londoners, is played out through the journey of Ken's sponsored run along the Silk Road and through the very different difficulties each new land brings
Very special and wonderful on very many levels.
A cast of UK and Chinese performers weave together two theatrical traditions in this enthralling collaboration. In 2008, the year of the Beijing Olympics, a group of friends from London set off on an epic journey along the ancient Silk Road trading route to China. Armed only with good humour, they cross the isolated terrain of central Asia, carrying with them an alternative Olympic flame to represent the dangers of global warming. The story of their journey is interwoven with tales from Chinese mythology. Classical actors from Beijing Opera draw on the zaju theatre of the Jin Dynasty, using dance, acrobatics, comic patter and music.
Yellow Earth is an award-winning East Asian theatre company based in the UK. It produces intercultural work that crosses art forms, boundaries and languages. Recent productions have been presented in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chongqing, Northern Ireland, and as part of the RSC's Complete Works series in Stratford. Writer Paul Sirett works extensively for television, radio and film. His most recent production was the Olivier Award-nominated musical The Big Life, which premiered at Theatre Royal Stratford East and transferred to the West End.
Performance time: 19:45
Running time: 90 mins/no interval
In English and Mandarin with English subtitles
‘Visually sparkling, morally robust and imaginatively adventurous.’ The Times on Play to Win
"The running battle between Shen Feng's God of Thunder and Yanzhong Huang's Queller of the Flood is an epic tussle of incredible agility, while the cast demonstrate sinuous expertise in the manipulation of various dragons, serpents and giant insects.” The Guardian
“An unusual and ambitious play… an exciting prospect for the audience” Liverpool Daily Post
‘…a show that lacks nothing in its inventiveness in blending East and West.’ Independent
'...delivered with such a touching sincerity...' Independent
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
Friday, 20 June 2008
inspired by a book by William Feaver
Mixed reviews for this. S and C not totally convinced m and i really loved it.
There is so much in this play:
The nature of art and art appreciation
The difficulty men have talking about feelings and intimacy
The pressure to stay in your group and with what you know. Even if this is less than what you could have by going outside your group
Questions about exploitation and patronage
The very critical attacks the men make on each other’s work
The vulnerability of making work and the almost universal feelings of failure
Really great scenes between Oliver and Robert Lyon - first in the borrowing books scene and then later when Robert is making his sketch of Oliver and they finally express how much the other means to them
Also when Harry tells Oliver to take Helen’s offer of a stipend to paint
Also when Oliver admits to Helen that he made the wrong choice saying ''no"
Great use of projecting the paintings - not too much and never allowed to dominate
Very intelligent grown up warm and wonderful play that is just getting richer and more wonderful the more i think about it My only criticism was just a bit much shouting
: Christopher Connel
: Michael Hodgson
: Ian Kelly
: Brian Lonsdale
: Lisa McGrillis
: Deka Walmsley
: David Whitaker
: Phillippa Wilson
Director: Max Roberts
Designer: Gary McCann
Lighting Designer: Douglas Kuhrt
Sound Designer: Martin Hodgson
‘Lee Hall’s new play is witty and touching… the inspiring story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.’ 4 stars Metro
In 1934, a group of Ashington miners hired a professor to teach an art appreciation evening class. Rapidly abandoning theory in favour of practice, the pitmen began to paint. Within a few years the most avant-garde artists became their friends and their work was acquired by prestigious collections; but every day they worked, as before, down the mine.
Straight from a sell-out season at Live Theatre Newcastle, Lee Hall’s new play is a humorous, deeply moving and timely look at art, class and politics.
Tuesday, 17 June 2008
chelsea college of art & design graduate show 2008
and my favourites were:
emily page's machine
jonny brigg's weird family
Sunday, 15 June 2008
lyric first, lyric hammersmith
Imagine a Brazilian Lewis Caroll on acid narrating an epic saga of a hero without morals…
Mario de Andrade wrote Macunaima, the hallmark of Brazilian literature, in the 1920's. Now Lyric favourites, Dende Collective (The Piranha Lounge, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands and Agreste) return with a new stage adaptation.
a posh dinner party
the guests arrive - they are avant garde society - artists and followers of 1920s brazillian modernism
one is mario the writer of the novel “macunaima”
he begins to tell his new story and little by little it comes alive and is acted out by the guests. the ‘garcon’ plays macnunaima interspersed with decadent scenes of excess by the guests -eating frogs, orgies of sex, smearing each other with muddy looking food, patronising enactments of tribal dancing …
the performance is includes a mix of physical theatre and puppetryAt the end of the post show discussion an audience member suggests that all of this story is happening in the head of mario and that he was a very difficult man with quite a fractured personality and maybe the dinner party could be aspects of what he sees and thinks brought to life as the story of macunaima
the main problem with the show as we saw it is that there is nothing driving it. the group want to solve the apparently immensely difficult challenge of bringing this novel into a performance. but I think this alone will not make a compelling show – it needs to be energised and focused and arranged around a particular perspective / story / person they want us to see and connect with.
also worth noting – the first people we meet we connect with strongly as an audience and use them as our way in to the show. thus they need to either be our connection with the story or at least translate the introduction to the character(s) who will be. one of my biggest confusion and irritation came from firstly disliking the dinner hostess intensely ( as we were intended to) and then losing my link into the play as it progressed. the other candidate – the garcon – who was much easier to like – became lost to me once he became macunaima and I ceased to have any way to continue to elate to him.
Since July 2006 we have been developing our Macunaíma cycle through a series of workshops and various months of intensive research in different fields and with different collaborators. Our aim is to investigate how to adapt this iconic Brazilian Modernist novel from the 1920s to a contemporary context involving different artists, institutions and artforms, and how to feed directly from our educational work into our artistic process.
Mário de Andrade’s seminal 1928 novel Macunaíma- o herói sem nenhum caráter is Brazil's greatest 20th century epic and a touchstone of the Brazilian Modernist movement. It was adapted into a film by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade in 1969 and is seen as a satirical view on Brazilian society and morals.
We have been developing our Macunaíma cycle through a series of workshops and various months of intensive research in different fields and with different collaborators. The aim is to investigate how to adapt this iconic Brazilian Modernist novel from the 1920s to a contemporary context involving different artists, institutions and artforms, and how to feed directly from our educational work into our artistic process.
THE MACUNAÍMA CYCLE
August 2006: Outlining the Story. Festival Encuentros Latinoamericanos in Balham, South London
Three actors, One director and No props. We worked towards outlining this epic.
2- 7 April 2007 : Young People's Approach. Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park in Bracknell, Berkshire
Working with a group of young people aged 8 to 14 we presented The Adventures of Macunaíma through their perspectives on the epic, using different media, including digital animation and puppetry.
16 - 21 July 2007: Visuals: Puppetry. Incubate Season @The Little Angel Theatre in Islington, London
Our research continued, and it led us to working with puppetry through a collaboration with The Little Angel Theatre and the Brazilian visual artist Samuel Guimarães who flew from Brazil to work with us. We paired him with a British puppet maker, Andy Jones. They worked in transforming Guimarães' sculptures into puppets as a group of actors experimented with bringing them to life.
6 - 11 August 2007: Visuals: Digital Animation & Projections. South Hill Park in Bracknell, Berkshire.
Dende went high tech for the first time. We played with different ideas on how to use projections and digital animation to tell the story. At times we had five projectors working simultaneously!
8 December 2007: Writing and Sharing the Story. First Bites - Oval House, London
We bring together elements from the four previous R&D sessions and form a framework for future development.
The Next Stage... R&D6...
12, 13 and 14 June 2008 : Lyrics First - Lyric Hammersmith, London
We further develop the work and this time we are going to explore the historical context, the very exciting artists that under the banner of the Modernist movement revolucionised Brazilian Art forever. Why was Macunaíma writen and who really was the writer behind it?
André Pink, Dende's Artistic Director has created a site about THE MACUNAÍMA CYCLE. There you will find his personal blog and in-depth insight about how Dende makes work.
Macunaíma, a native Brazilian from the Amazon, was born black and fully-grown amongst his red-skinned people, becomes white and blond and finally black again; his transformations symbolising all the races that constitute the Brazilian people. We follow the misadventures of Macunaíma from miraculous birth to death, especially as he chases after his lost amulet, given to him by the queen of the Amazons before she became a star. He takes us on fantastic journeys through rivers, jungles, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, all Brazil. With him we encounter a shrewd Peruvian entrepreneur (who in reality is a cannibal giant), collect swear words, sail with the Sun and discover how the Moon was created. Through it all, our scoundrel-hero remains staunchly irreverent and immoral, leaving his conscience behind when he could, a true champion of hedonistic carnal pleasures. Mário de Andrade weaves native Brazilian tales, myths and folklore from different regions with his own imagination and elements from European avant-garde to produce a unique novel that had an influential impact in Brazilian culture (Tropicalismo, Caetano Veloso, Cinema Novo, Hélio Oiticica etc).
Mário de Andrade (1893-1945) was a Brazilian poet, novelist, musicologist, art historian and critic, and photographer. One of the founders of Brazilian modernism, he virtually created modern Brazilian poetry with the publication of Paulicéia Desvairada (Hallucinated City) in 1922. He has had an enormous influence on Brazilian literature in the 20th and 21st centuries, and as a scholar and essayist - he was a pioneer of the field of ethnomusicology - his influence has reached far beyond Brazil. After working as a music professor and newspaper columnist he published his great novel, Macunaíma, in 1928.
Saturday, 14 June 2008
"the revenger's tragedy"
by thomas middleton
Director: Melly Still
Designers: Ti Green and Melly Still
Lighting Designer: Paul Anderson
Music: Adrian Sutton and Different Gear
Sound Designer: Paul Arditti
Movement Director: Rick Nodine
Fight Director: Paul Benzing
olivier, national theatre
Total commitment by all the cast makes this world completely believable
The revolve presents and represents the 3 sets and skids us between them - often whirling us round like a carousel
The music is a brilliant mash of live mixed house and classical seared thru with the cut glass beauty of a counter tenor
Dark colours -reds and blacks. Masks. Change of a wig to make a disguise
Great dance sequences
Almost filmic altho' always utterly theatrical
A huge hit for us all and for C and S particularly
'Think Sarah Kane, early Edward Bond, with Mark Ravenhill thrown in, and you’re close to defining the imaginative punch of Melly Still’s modern-dress revival…’ The Times
'Bloody dance of sex and death strikes all the right notes’ Evening Standard
‘Club music, gothic interiors, sarcastic humour and some heavy daubs of gore….an insistent coup de theatre.’ Daily Mail
Attend me, I am past my depth in lust And I must swim or drown.
As he holds the skull of his beloved – who rejected the licentious old duke’s advances and so was poisoned – Vindice plots the Duke’s grotesque murder. But in a court where adultery, rape and incest are the norm, his vengeance does not stop there. An orgy of ritualistic, even playful, bloodletting follows.
Were’t not for gold and women there would be no damnation.The Revenger's Tragedy is a ferociously dark play by Thomas Middleton, set in an avaricious world that seethes with vice and retribution.
Featuring live music from DJs differentGear
by Tim Fountain.
Starring Bette Bourne.
Directed by Tamara Harvey
Designed by Morgan Large.
bette bourne as henry wilson
michael xavier as roy fitzgerald (rock hudson)
Rock is co-commissioned by Homotopia and Glasgay! Funded by Arts Council England.
Oval House Theatre
Rock Hudson was the biggest screen idol in 1950's LA - the ultimate Hollywood hunk. But his career was perpetually under threat from Confidential Magazine, every gay actor's nemesis: and only one man stood between stardom and oblivion. Rock is the story of Henry Willson, the man who made a star of Rock Hudson; the most unscrupulous agent in Los Angeles; the man who would do anything to protect his money-spinning protégé.
Starring the incomparable Bette Bourne and written by Tim Fountain - the team
behind Resident Alien, the hit play about Quentin Crisp - Rock brings the seamy
world of 1950's Hollywood to vivid life.
Tim Fountain’s fascinating, apparently true-life play views the dilemma of being gay in 1950s Hollywood from the differing perspectives of Roy Fitzgerald, a hick young man who aspires to be a film star, and Henry Willson, a famous agent, who triumphantly subjects him to a Pygmalion-like process of change. Tamara Harvey’s sensitively nuanced production, enhanced by a sombre Edward Hopperish office and Hockneyish pop art view of Hollywood designed by Morgan Large, creates just the right mood. When young Roy, played by Michael Xavier, appears in Willson’s office, he seems about as much male sex-symbol material as Kenneth Williams. He is high-voiced, physically awkward and tentative. Yet Willson, the maestro of abrasive, outspoken cynicism in the charismatic, comic performance of Bette Bourne sees movie potential in his looks and physique. The business of converting Roy Fitzgerald into Rock Hudson, of making the cissie-boy butch, is accomplished in over-compressed scenes of high comedy. Xavier, a real theatrical discovery, charts the masculinisation procedure with convincing assurance. The impassive Willson, to whom Bourne lends the perfect air of closeted misanthropy, revels in showing Rock how to walk tall and speak with low-voiced confidence. Thanks to Willson’s publicising flair, Rock is quickly launched upon his career as a star, though it is not long before he consents to marriage to stem the tide of malign whispers. Fountain conveys a vivid impression of the witch-hunting, McCarthyite times, with gay male stars under surveillance. Yet he needs to probe deeper and explain more about the impact of 1950s homophobia on the two men and their private lives. There are psychological, sexual and political matters left unexplored in this evocation of a Hollywood that 50 years on still keeps gay stars in closets.
Nicholas De Jongh, Evening Standard — 30th May 2008
The title of Tim Fountain's two-hander is ambiguous. Does it refer to the movie star Rock Hudson, the 50s housewife's pin-up who never admitted to his homosexuality, and who died of Aids in 1985? Or is the rock of the title the Hollywood agent Henry Wilson, who discovered Hudson and transformed him from the gawky Illinois hick, Roy Fitzgerald, into the highest-paid star in the world, in the process both ruthlessly exploiting his client and protecting him from the FBI and Confidential Magazine, who were determined to out Rock as gay? Wilson was Rock's rock, until he gradually crumbled away, his reputation eroded by drink and scandal. Wilson is played by Bette Bourne, who crumbles better than any actor I know. It is as if he is collapsing from the inside out. Entire landslides take place on his face during the course of a single sentence. He captures Wilson's essential sharkiness ("I find out what the market wants and I deliver it") and then makes you want to take the shark home and look after it.
To be honest, Fountain's play looks more like an outline than a play itself. But although thin, it is entertaining enough as we watch Michael Xavier's reedy-voiced Roy become macho Rock, posing as an Oscar statuette in gold body paint to get the media's attention and then trying to throw them off the scent of his sexuality by marrying Wilson's secretary, Phyllis. Like the body paint, Fountain's script is all glitter and not enough substance. Bourne supplies the latter, but with a more robust script this might have been a piercing look at celebrity, homophobia and the relationship between a modern Frankenstein and his monster.
Lyn Gardiner, Guardian — 9th June 2008
akram khan company + national ballet of china
artistic director / choreographer ~ akram khan
composer ~ nitin sawhney
chinese music advisor ~ gisele edwards
set conceived by ~ fabiana piccioli, sander loonen and akram khan
dramaturg ~ guy cools
producer ~ farooq chaudrey
associate producer ~ bia oliviera
material devised and performed by ~
eulalia ayguade farro
kim young jin
meng ning ning
bahok is the eagerly anticipated collaboration between Sadler’s
Wells Associate Artist Akram Khan and the National Ballet of China. After
creating intimate duets with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (zero degrees) and Sylvie
Guillem (Sacred Monsters), Akram Khan now works with eight dancers, as five
performers from his own kathak-contemporary company go head-to-head with three classically-trained dancers from the National Ballet of China.
bahok, named after a Bengali word meaning ‘carrier’ explores the ways in which the body carries national identity and a sense of belonging. Khan’s dancers come from diverse cultures, traditions and dance backgrounds – Chinese, Korean, Indian, South-African and Spanish – and this rich mix of both spoken and dance language pushes the boundaries of movement vocabulary. Khan once again joins forces with long-time collaborator Nitin Sawhney, renowned for his multi award-winning compositions, who will create an original score for bahok.
stunning dancing and choreography - ahang ahenxin in particular is extraordinary
Tuesday March 11, 2008
It is almost inevitable that a collaboration between Akram Khan and the National Ballet of China should be about crossing cultures. The eight dancers in Bahok embody a vivid palette of styles and traditions: modern and classical, Asian and western. As a choreographer, Khan's preoccupation has long been with the nature of identity in a migrating world. Just as in his previous work, Zero Degrees, Khan is fascinated here by the adventure of travelling outside one's home culture and the danger of being lost in translation.
Bahok presents a stark atmosphere of limbo; the stage is designed as a waiting room that could be any airport or train station around the world. The dancers sit slumped and restless beneath an information board that flickers through dispiriting variations on the message: Please Wait, Delays.
Desperate to fill time, they experiment with verbal and physical contact. Meng Ningning - one of the three Chinese dancers in the ensemble - introduces herself delicately with a shy enchaînement of ballet steps; the Indian-born Saju strikes bold martial arts poses; and Nitin Sawhney's score adds its own dazzling mix of musical styles.
These migrants are far from home, and their collective mood is anxious. A funny, unsettling dialogue unfolds between Young Jin Kim and unseen immigration officials, whose conversational cross-purposes threaten to escalate into an ugly situation. More poignantly, Eulalia Ayguade Farro is a woman who has travelled so far that she has forgotten her name and place of origin. When she borrows a mobile phone to ring her mother, she cannot make a connection.
As Kahn allows these travellers' tales to unfold, he takes full advantage of the compelling individuality of his cast. Wang Yitong is outstanding as her classical training opens up to the slamming, corkscrew dynamic of Khan's vocabulary. Occasionally, the logic of the piece starts to feel predictable as it jogs from one individual story to the next. However, the final section recovers its thrilling pace and intensity as Khan unites his dancers in a furious, wheeling ensemble, pounding the stage as they restart their collective journey.
The announcement board flashes up the messages, "HOME ... HOPE ... HOME", but we have no sense that these characters, driven by the piston-pumping rhythms of Sawhney's score, will ever arrive at a destination. Through this ultimately powerful piece, Khan captures both the exhilaration and the desolation of a world on the move.
Friday, 6 June 2008
jonathan lunn dance company
words by anthony minghelle
dancers from EDge
queen elizabeth hall, southbank
Reading Room places different lives, relationships, connections, disconnections, pacts, secrets and lies all under the microscope in this Southbank Centre commissioned dance work.
Award-winning choreographer and director, Jonathan Lunn, has teamed up with award-winning playwright and director Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) to present this remarkable series of short dances skilfully accompanied by a live spoken soundtrack, featuring actors Juliet Stevenson (Truly Madly Deeply) and Miranda Richardson (Blackadder, Harry Potter), and dancers from EDge, the Postgraduate Performance Group of LondonContemporary Dance School.
‘A gem of choreographic ingenuity’ (Guardian).
Please note: Juliet Stevenson appears on Thursday 5 June and Miranda Richardson appears on Friday 6 June.
exceptional experience the lighting was very much a part of this show.
in the first piece the lighting seemed almost solid.
and the choreography - brilliant and completely mesmerising - featured very fast staccato movements with numerous quick freezes that allowed moments upon moments of time in freeze- frame.
two dancers in particular stood out - chris and ? - but all the dancing was had a fantastic precision and fluidity.
the beckett piece was a glorious conundrum of circular writing that nevertheless managed to still move thru a narrative. chris danced this with miranda reading from the table with choreography that was simultaneously recognisable without being a literal mime and wonderfully evocative
the final piece written and recorded by anthony minghella about the need to
"take great care in connecting A with A and remembering that C should be in the
centre and is very tender"
and fantastice use of screens coupled with fab lighting to provide different spaces (these were wheeled about by the dancers into different formations.
Thursday, 5 June 2008
thursday 5th june 2008
grupo XIX de teatro
the great hall, st barts hospital
bite 08, barbican
A site-specific performance in The Great Hall at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
This performance takes place in the evocative surroundings of The Great Hall at St Bart’s Hospital. It explores the lives of 19th century women interred in mental institutions, often erroneously, and looks at the connections between their experiences and those of women today.
How have conceptions of abnormality changed?
What unites women across the centuries?
Like ghosts from a former time, the five performers interact with female members of the audience, gently questioning them about their lives. An engaging, tender and charming production.
wednesday 4th june 2008
a new play by michale frayn
lyttleton, national theatre
A man who has everything. Money, friends, a happy home.
And then – pfft! It’s all vanished.
Max Reinhardt, one of the greatest impresarios of theatrical history, had a lifelong ambition – to dissolve the boundary between theatre and the world it portrays. Each year at the Salzburg festival he directed a famous morality play, Everyman, about God sending Death to summon a representative of mankind for judgment. The victim he chooses is a man who, like Reinhardt, rejoices in his wealth and all the pleasures that money can buy.
Then in 1938 Hitler declares his own day of reckoning and sends Death into Austria – whereupon Reinhardt, a Jew, is left as naked and vulnerable as Everyman himself.
Michael Frayn’s Afterlife is the story of how Reinhardt achieves his great ambition; though in a way he can scarcely have foreseen.
Roger Allam, last seen at the National Theatre in Michael Frayn's Democracy, plays Reinhardt. Michael Frayn's other recent productions at the National were Copenhagen and Noises Off.
unfortunately another miss from the national. we were disappointed and underwhelmed by this. it has its moments but fails to accumulate into anything.
the show - which is about a man famous for staging immense pageants - is written and performed in the style of a pageant. this is engaging for about the first 20minutes and then becomes increasingly wearying and shallow.
there are moments that stand out: the complete ease and relaxation with which reinhardt tell the archbishop he is a jew and you shiver knowing in how few years ahead this will be an instant sentence; the mechanical precisely performed dance sequence by the servants that presages the clipped tight fascist marches and salutes; the more obvious similarities between the theatricality of the pageants and the later pageants of the hitler rallies.
the set is huge and chunky and altho impressive forces most of the performance into a two-dimensional face-out-front which lends itself well enough to the pageantry but again fails to add any depth.
frayn's the programme notes talk about how difficult and complex reinhardt was as a man and list an intriguing array of productions and films but what he gives us is a much smaller domestic story of a rich man at home perpetually engaged in conceiving, selling, realising or hiding in the shadows and running from the money problems made by some silly (to us) pageant. rather than an evocation of of the little boy who dreamed his childhood away from the cheap seats or the creator who imagines and then painstaking crafts programmes of immense scale and specificity we only get the showman, the bully, the perfectionist, and yes the tender lover.
unfortunately despite wanting to like this it was for me a wearying and irrelevant night at the theatre - albeit expensively produced. more frustratingly it did feel like several opportunities missed.
sadly this is the 5th new play we've seen in the current national season that has been unexceptional (with "happy now"; "never so good"; "the year of magical thinking" "harper regan"). "fram" is the only show that was special.
we pin our hopes now on "the pitman painters" ...
Wednesday, 4 June 2008
tuesday 3rd june 2008
"the not knowing of another"
de la warr pavillion"This new multi-screen video and sound installation provides synchronized, but alternative viewpoints of a short walk navigated by a man with complex neurological impairment. The artist has retrieved the sound of the man's heartbeat and breathing along with video footage from the jouney via several cameras - one attached to his chest, an aerial view camera, a camera that follows the direction of his gaze and another that provides an overview of the walk. From hearing the intimate micro-rhythms of blood pumping through the heart, to seeing a rrid's eye view of the space in which the jouney is made, the viewer is allowed to engage in the walk in a way that attempts to gain insight into the man's complex and (to us) unknown world.
NESTA award-winning artist Kate Adams has undertaken significant development work with people who have complex needs, focusing on gaining an insight into their experiences of the buillt enviroment. This has developed a longside an interest in the philosophy of phenomenology - described as the reflective study of the essence of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view.
Kate Adams lives in Hastings and is co-founder and director of Project ArtWorks."
tuesday 3rd june 2008
grayson perry selects from the Arts Council Collection
de la warr pavillion
for many of the pictures with grayson perry's brilliant commentary: