Brighton is awesome and I’m never ever leaving. My house is brilliant and my room is brilliant and the sea is brilliant and the shops are brilliant and my job is brilliant and I haven’t even started my course yet but that’s going to be brilliant too. Yesterday I walked to the top of the hill with one of my housemates and took loads of pictures of all the little ships in the shipping lane on the horizon but in retrospect they’re basically all just photos of cloud. But brilliant cloud. And tonight I walked to the theatre via THE FUCKING SEASIDE and the people who checked my ticket recognised me from my job (potential friends alert) and MY OH MY there was some sex on stage tonight boys and girls.
It was an all-male version of A Clockwork Orange by Action To The Word (who I’ve never heard of before but will be paying close attention to in future) and it was at TOM in Hove (that’s the posh bit). TOM stands for The Old Market and the building been pretty well restored, but sadly the auditorium feels a bit like a school hall. Still, that stopped bothering me around about the first moment the lead actor took his vest off. It was so brilliantly homoerotic, proper sexy Matthew Bourne style stuff, but obviously dark as fuck as well, what with it being A Clockwork Orange and everything.
Now, I remember looking at A Clockwork Orange during my English Language A-level, and I saw a documentary about it being banned once, and I remember that Halloween episode of The Simpsons where Bart dresses up as a droog, and OBVIOUSLY the eyelid bit is universal pop culture, but I never really knew the actual story before now. I think that was a plus. You may remember me writing about Three Kingdoms and about how visually mesmerising that was when a million different things happened on stage at once, and there were definite zone-out headfuck moments like that tonight. When the music was loud and the lights were shadowy and all the sexy men were being mmmmm physical with one another, and although the story is great and relevant and genuinely interesting, for a minute or two it doesn’t really matter what’s happening because the stage just looks so incredible. Brilliant performances, brilliant direction, brilliant design. Everything’s just fucking brilliant.
I love Manchester. Every time I visit I get more emo than the time before. Every time I visit it feels less like home than it did before. Every time I remember my time in Manchester it feels more like nostaligia than the time before. I went to Manchester to see some theatre yesterday and I didn’t call my old friends afterwards because my leg was a bit sore from all the walking around I’d done and I wanted to make the 21.04 train back to Sandbach for a decent night’s kip. I am not the person I was when I lived there.
And yet I am not completely a visitor there. I am not a tourist. I view the city through the eyes of someone for whom it is still the nearest thing to ‘home’. I lived most of my life in Macclesfield but that stopped being ‘home’ about a week after I moved to Manchester. Leicester was never ‘home’. Sandbach, the place my parents live now and where I am staying this summer, is not ‘home’. So I felt all sorts of heavy emotional shit when I saw Manchester Lines yesterday. While the Library Theatre gets a new building, they’re doing stuff in various places around the city and this was set in a new-ish office building near Whitworth Street and Deansgate Locks. It was 90 minutes of an extremely well written play set in the Metrolink’s lost property office. I really enjoyed it. Performers appeared from under shelves and out of wardrobes and danced and sang around us all in the tiny little cluttered office, and it was great. Two sisters found each other while a mother lost her memory, etc etc. You know the drill. Symbolism and intertwining lives and stuff. Really excellent. But then in the final moments we left the office and walked allong the fifth floor of the building, looking out over Salford and the G-Mex (sorry, Manchester Central) and the Briton’s Protection and those flats that replaced the Hacienda and the Palace Hotel and that Hilton building that looks a bit like the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some people hate Manchester’s architecture because it’s as if some planning guy has just okayed every single application since 1846, but I love that it’s so fucked up. They should’ve done a Manchester Sim City where the only rule is that no two renovated mills can go next to one another. There has to be a lopsided glass thing in between.
So, anyway. We’d just watched this brilliant play about the people who lose things and the people that find them, and we’re looking out over the city, watching the trams pulling in and out off the stop by the G-Mex, and suddenly the play isn’t about things anymore, it’s about place and belonging and the routes we take through life and oh my god there’s a fucking choir singing and, as usual, I’ve shuffled myself right to the front so I can see really well but that means I can’t hide my tears from cast nor audience. And then I had to run across town to the Royal Exchange for another show and all I could think about was Manchester and the fact that while I may have lost my place in that city, I will never lose my relationship with it.
(The images on this post are from the Skyliner, a brilliant blog by Hayley Flynn, who writes about the history behind Manchester’s buildings, walkways, graffiti, alternative culture… It actually is the greatest place in the world.)
I’m just back from a trip to Grassington to see Retrospective by Slung Low, a promenade headphoney thing about a boxer-cum-photographer. Grassington is one of those beautiful stone villages that Yorkshire does, on a hill and crammed full of little pubs and galleries. The sort of place that’s absolutely beautiful on a still summer’s evening, but you know that for 350 days a year it’s basically a more affluent Deliverance. Tonight was one of the former though, and the festival volunteers were hosing us all down in Jungle Formula to avoid the midge bites. (I thought it was so toxic that it’d started to dissolve my cheap jewellery, but turns out the grey marks on my neck were the liquidised corpses of a THOUSAND DEAD FLIES…)
I am a city person; everything I’ve learnt about farming has come from The Archers or John Craven, but wandering about the Yorkshire Dales listening to the story of a boxer who (spoiler!) killed a man in a bar fight only to be abandoned by his wife and child, really brought out the romantic in me. Like I always do at promenade theatre, I walked about six inches behind the actor at all times, occasionally kicking him in the ankles, and (as usual) I missed bits of the story because I was so bloody busy craning my head to see what was going to happen next. There was a bit at the top of a small hill near a gorgeous tree than was covered in photographs, and when we turned around you could see a long dining table, with tablecloths and candles and everything, being towed through the village. Straight away I was all like SWEEEEET I BET WE GET TO SIT AT THAT TABLE and instantly I was marching off again like a twat, while this poor guy poured his heart out. When we did sit at the table all the food was under those fancy silver cloche things and there was this incredible vocal group doing a song that sounded like Danny Elfman had written it. It was BRILLIANT. And we got to have whisky twice.
Some bits I missed completely because of all the nature everywhere. Birds and stuff, and ACTUAL FROLICKING LAMBS. Right at the end when we were on top of this massive hill, timed perfectly for the sunset (beautiful), it got to a really heartbreaking bit and these two horses came trotting across the field to see what was going on. For a moment I lost it completely and in my head I was like HORSES EVERYONE!!! LOOK AT THE HORSES!!!! It was just perfect. You don’t get fucking horses checking out regular pros-arch crap, do you? “No, I’m sorry sir, you can’t stand in the aisle because it’s a fire hazard.”
I should really have asked for tickets for two dates for Retrospective (audiences were pulled out of a hat, but it was free), so that I could watch it the first time and go mental over all the wildlife and stuff, and then go a second time and be a well-behaved audience member who walks at an appropriate pace and doesn’t keep getting distracted by the exclamation marks rolling behind her eyes.
Basically, it was ace. Full of beautiful little touches. Recommended by fucking HORSES.
You know that feeling when you arrive at a scratch night and you worry that some of the work might be shit
… but then the first thing you see is a group of three people exercising with inflatables and squeaky dog toys and it rains hundreds of coloured balls and one of the performers wears a lifejacket like a dress and then they all throw themselves repeatedly against a wall?
I don’t want the Blogging Police to come and arrest me so I won’t go into too much detail about Hatch, what with tonight being a platform for work-in-progress stuff, but suffice to say the Priya Mistry opener was pretty brilliant. Squeaky dog toys = never not funny.
Hatch have been programming a load of interesting stuff around the East Midlands recently. They’re like this region’s NTW, except with a navigable website. And probably less money, although we did get quiche in the buffet.
(The hatch from Lost. Best I could do on Google Images, soz.)
Big shout out to tatty-del’s hair too. Two women. One fringe, one quiff. Different, yet equal. Yin and yang.
FINALLY got to see Autobiographer last night. I’d bought a ticket to one of the very first performances in Birmingham aaaaaages ago and then some wankers nicked half the train track in Nuneaton and I got to New Street ten mins after curtain up. I rang the box office from the train to see if my ticket could be resold and people in the carriage were consoling me about missing the show. Of course, it only made me more determined to see it. I’m not the type to sit back and let fucking scrap metal thieves ruin my arts calendar.
So, on paper, Autobiographer sounds really shit. It’s four women (the same woman at different stages of life) articulating the thoughts and memories of a 76 year old with dementia. There is no discernable narrative thread and at times it feels like you’re having a one-sided conversation with the most boring woman on earth. Which, of course, is really why it’s so good.
Before she died in 2005, my Grandma (Dad’s mum) suffered from dementia. It had progressed very quickly after she had an operation to remove a cancer. Many things made my Grandma’s situation very complicated but, actually, the dementia felt like the least of our worries.
Over the last few years, my Grandpa (Mum’s dad) has become ‘demented’. That sounds like a word you’d use in an essay about Mr Rochester’s first wife. He recently got an infection in both legs because he had forgotten to get into bed. He just sat up all night. My mum is one of four children but is the only one who lives nearby. She recently drifted apart from an old friend because she isn’t able to care for Grandpa herself and her friend disapproved.
(NB: I feel that this is the point at which I should explain that my Grandpa is a complete bastard and I’d said I’d have nothing to do with him even before he started forgetting people’s names. It’s a bit like when The Guardian mention some businessman who’s also on their board. I have to state the facts, for complete transparency. I’m simply not a nice enough human being to forget that he is a bastard.)
So, I watched Autobiographer with these two people in mind. The woman in the show was both my Grandma and my Grandpa, and it was moving. It must be fucking terrifying, losing your memory, and you really got a sense of that progression between panic and anger to just kind of accepting that you don’t know where you are or who you are or anything. It definitely made me wish that I’d spent more time with Grandma before she died, but I was younger then and, frankly, she scared the shit out of me by the end. Autobiographer also made me less angry with my Grandpa, although, because I am not a nice enough human being, that was because I thought “Ha! What goes around comes around motherfucker” rather than growing any sort of empathy.
Like I said, it was powerful.
I went to Bristol yesterday, for Mayfest, and the shitty train services meant I got to hire a car and hit the OPEN ROAD.
I was in Evesham before I managed to get the air con to work, and was somewhat panicked by the £500 insurance excess, but I had some pretty eye-opening (ear-opening?) radio experiences. Did you know, there is a radio version of the Go Compare ad? And Ocean Colour Scene are still a thing? And there is an actual brass band show, JUST FOR BRASS BAND MUSIC? Nothing else, JUST BRASS BANDS. For A WHOLE HOUR. The radio controls confused me a bit so I could only change the station when I was stopped. I can’t believe you can’t get 6 Music in the car. I mean, we saved the fucking station but you still can’t get it in cars?
There’s a pleasant kind of symmetry to rediscovering your driving mojo in beautiful Warwickshire countryside just before you climb to the 11th floor of a car park for an audio thing about the last one left of earth. Motor Vehicle Sundown by Andy Field is for two people (I made a new real-life Twitter friend and everything!) with headphones, and the premise is that cars have died out and the closest we can get to reliving the driving experience is by sitting in this museum piece Corsa (maybe a Micra - it wasn’t a Fiesta because the air con button was quite obvious) and imagining. We went to the drive-in and there was a lovely moment with headlights lighting up all the shagging teenagers, and then there was Gimme Shelter by The Stones, easily one of my all-time favourite songs, and then I went to the bottom of the sea and there was a sound like my heart…beat… slow…ing… down… Totally cool sound. It’s nice that the piece idealised driving, as we are wont to do with old dead stuff, although the hot weather and vintagey feel (can’t believe I just wrote “vintagey feel” - I hate myself) meant the maybe-Corsa would have been better as a Cadillac or summut. Probs couldn’t get it up the NCP ramps.
After MVS I went to the Arnolfini for a ‘pizzette’ and to do the Jo Bannon one-on-one thing, Exposure, which is EXCELLENT. I have never been in a room that dark before in my life, apart from maybe that time I went caving and we all turned our headlamps off for kicks. There’s so much I want to tell you about Exposure but it really needs an element of surprise. All I’m going to say is there is fucking PITCH BLACK ROOM and some incredibly effective shit-your-pants lighting and it’s all over far too quickly. The design and the concept could be really stretched into something much longer, and I hope that happens in the future. I could’ve spent all day in there with her.
I’ve been trying to think of all the political theatre I’ve seen. Maybe I should re-phrase that. I’ve been trying to think of all the theatre about politics I’ve seen. So far I’ve got 2nd May 1997, which was particularly memorable for Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s incredible nipples; Posh, which stood out for its a capella rendition of Wiley’s Wearing My Rolex; and Hitch by Kieran Hurley, which I saw just a couple of days ago and which will stick in my mind because I have since added Glaswegian to my list of favourite sexy accents.
I haven’t seen anything by Belarus Free Theatre. In fact, until I heard that their King Lear featured cocks aplenty, I didn’t really want to. A while ago there was a whole load of bleating about how “endangered” they were, with Gandalf running some kind of charity night and everyone in theatre suddenly googling Belarus because we’d all just thought it was some Polish town or something till then. No-one said anything about whether or not their work was any good.
I went to see Hitch on Friday because at least three people had told me to JUST FUCKING SEE IT in the same way I’ve been telling people to JUST FUCKING SEE Three Kingdoms all week. I never would have bought a ticket if it wasn’t for these people because a one-man show about hitch-hiking to a protest sounds like the very worst kind of pious student do-gooding. In the end, it was good. It wasn’t too preachy, it built up nicely with music and film and stuff, and, like I said earlier, Kieran Hurley has a sexy voice. It was by no means a perfect show though.
I consider myself somewhere around 60-70% in the politically-aware spectrum. I prefer watching the news to Jeremy Kyle. I don’t like the Tories, or even the LibDems much anymore, and I want Rebekah Brooks and Rupert Murdoch to suffer the very worst kind of humiliating dethronement once the Leveson Inquiry is done. I wish the government would invest more in the public sector, and acknowledge the intrinsic value of an arts and humanities education by subsidising people like me. But I also know that if I was really rich I’d try to pay as little tax as possible.
When I go to the theatre I don’t want to see heavy shit about genocide and torture. I don’t really want to see stuff that paints protest as this idealistic wonderland where we can all embrace generosity and humanity and we can overthrow the bad guys with rainbows and bunny rabbits and the boundless fraternal love we have for all our new friends. I mainly just want jokes and cocks. Sorry.
So I just saw my first Hamlet. I started small, with a “verbal and visual interpretation” by DreamThinkSpeak; The Rest Is Silence. It’s like all the important bits you’d underline to revise for an exam without all the noodly suicidal bollocks that goes on for ages in the middle. Which is quite an apt metaphor really, considering that until an hour or two ago, I DIDN’T ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN HAMLET. My v cursory research told me that it was basically a cross between The Lion King and The Killing, and was about a stay-at-home loser who needs to shit or get off the pot. The main dude looked a lot like Ben Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie which really added an extra dose of whiney crybaby to the role.
So, The Rest Is Silence is 90 mins long and it’s performed from inside a load of boxes around this central audience chamber. You have to stand up the whole fucking time. I was also a bit disappointed that there was no interactivity after the DreamThinkSpeak version of The Cherry Orchard had a whole fucking DEPARTMENT STORE of people trying to sell you fucking BIRDSONG in RUSSIAN. And the design inside the boxes was a bit sparse. I mean, it’s all very well bringing the Danish royal family up to date and everything, but I refuse to believe they would sit at a perspex desk. Although maybe the bald guy with the desk wasn’t actually a member of the royal family. I dunno. Anyway, it was just a bit like that Ikea advert with all the parties in the kitchens except we were trapped in this central death chamber and couldn’t play with the fancy self-closing drawers.
I was getting a bit bored and restless by the end if I’m honest, although they reinvigorated things somewhat with a fucking cool swordfight. Sword fighting’s pretty sexy. Two men trapped in a box, sweating and lunging at each other. LIKED IT.
This blog post has been partly written in German and Estonian.
Dieser Blogeintrag wurde teilweise in deutscher und estnischer Sprache geschrieben.
See blogi on osaliselt kirjutatud saksa ja eesti keeles.
I was supposed to go to see Babel last night. I’d bought the ticket about a million years ago because everyone in theatre still had a massive boner for Michael Sheen’s Passion thing in Port Talbot and I thought I’d see what these Wildworks guys were all about. I watched the documentary about the Port Talbot Passion recently and it looked like an actual real-life outreach triumph, even if I did hear of the involvement of (shudder) “community groups” and “local people”. (Excuse me - think I was just a bit sick in my mouth.) I would’ve gone along to Babel quite happily; enjoyed the knitted cityscapes and tree-dwellers and shit, but then Three Kingdoms happened.
I don’t really pay attention to what proper theatres do with proper scripts and actors these days. I’ve got too little money to waste it on sitting in a dark room without either a) guaranteed glitter cannons and mass tap-dancing, or b) someone basically asking me to be in the show with them, but then all these people on twitter started going HAAAAAAAAA THREE KINGDOMS WTF WAS THAT AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING and pictures of women wearing nighties and DEER HEADS started appearing and I was all like “I really can’t be fucked with Simon Stephens but, well, look at all the women in the fucking DEER HEADS” so I sacked Babel off and went to that instead.
I have never been so stimulated in all my life (ex-boyfriends, I’m looking at you).
So there were these two detectives, Iggy and Beardy, and they were investigating the murder of a woman whose head was covered in jizz then sawn off and dumped in the Thames. They followed this porn/sex slavery ring to Germany and then Estonia but none of that really matters. What matters is ALL THE STUFF THAT WAS GOING ON. They say that you shouldn’t really notice a show’s direction but Three Kingdoms was directed to fuck. Guys would just leap over walls and run into things and throw chairs. Throw suitcases through windows. There was the dude who re-enacted Rocky Racoon by The Beatles and the other guy with a bale of hay on his head and teine mees, kes tembeldatakse kurgi viilud and the other guy who masturbated a foot-long strap on dildo and the guy who wrapped the whole set in hazard tape and the guy who said “fuck you you piece of fuck” and die Frau, die sich ergab einen Schwamm Bad and the bit where everyone clinged to one wall as if the whole place was tipping over nagu hukku laeva and every so often everything would come together in the most beautiful fucked-up musical bit with a guy singing or half-singing or mumbling maybe and Glitter an den richtigen Stellen and shadows in the right places and it was just really really really BEAUTIFUL to watch.
It was like hyperreality. Like, why do we all insist on just fucking meandering through life when we can leap-frog through it and walk up walls and wear a fuck-off great-big dildo under our clothes? I’m writing this in a coffee shop near Victoria Station right now and when I pay my bill I’m going to flash the waitress then hurl the empty tea pot right through the fucking window.
LASST UNS GEHEN UND TATSÄCHLICH LEBEN MEIE FUCKING ELU
Black Watch (National Theatre of Scotland)
The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart (National Theatre of Scotland)
Jerusalem (Royal Court, seen at the Apollo)
Kursk (Sound & Fury and Fuel)
It Felt Like A Kiss (Punchdrunk and Adam Curtis)
Before I Sleep (dreamthinkspeak)
Symphony of a Missing Room (Lundahl & Seitl)
The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer (Weeping Spoon)
A Game Of You (Onterorend Goed)
The Animals and Children Took To The Streets (1927)
Nevermore - The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe (Catalyst Theatre)
And some runners up:
For The Best (Unity Theatre)
The Cleansing of Constance Brown (Stan’s Cafe)
Treasured (Jane Packman Company)
The Red Shoes (Kneehigh)
Cupid (Subject to Change)
Electric Hotel (Fuel)
As you’ll know if you’ve read this blog more than a couple of times in the past, I value immediacy when it comes to having critical opinions. Contemplation generally reduces the importance of the sensory, visceral reactions that I think are the real test of a work. Some things just stick with you though, and some come to you via all sorts of media.
I recently came across a great quote from Tassos Stevens, who says: “The experience of an event begins for its audience when they first hear about it and only finishes when they stop thinking and talking about it.”
If this was a uni assessment, I would now make a fancy flowchart of my experience of Make Better Please by Uninvited Guests and Lewis Gibson. It started with Laura McDermott from Fierce telling me how cool it was when I first had a meeting with her about me working with them, back in November I think. Then my old boss saw it in Liverpool and gave me a scene-by-scene deconstruction, laughing the whole way through about how shit it was. Then I went over to Birmingham for Fierce and stayed with someone who worked on the show. We talked more about the complications of getting it into its Brum venue than any creative aspect. Then, the night I was in the audience, I’d also had to do the box office so ran in to take my seat at the very last second.
Of course, because I’d heard about the show in great detail already, I was pretty excited to get to the bit with the giant strap-on newspaper penis because it’s a GIANT STRAP-ON NEWSPAPER PENIS. I liked the fact that I got to share my opinion in the show because I’m an attention-seeking narcissist and am pre-disposed to like everything in which I play a part. I liked it whenever we got a chance to speak and I liked it when the tall guy did his juddering naked dance and strapped on the GIANT NEWSPAPER PENIS. I liked the smoke and flashing lights and shit. It was loud and fun and I felt stimulated and involved. But mostly it was fucking HILARIOUS and I was very aware that I wasn’t really supposed to be finding it funny. Much like everything in my life really.
So then the show was over and I talked to Jane and Ben about it (the friends I was staying with during Fierce - Ben was the lighting designer on the show, and on Cupid by Subject to Change too, which I’ve already told you was incredible), and I went back to run the box office for a second night and talked to the Fierce volunteers about it. Then Make Better Please was about to open at BAC at I saw a glut of tweets from people who had loved it so much that they IMPLORED their followers to buy a ticket SO HELP THEM GOD etc etc. And today I read Lyn Gardner’s Guardian review which wasn’t very positive at all.
And what I really want to do is go and watch it again. To kind of test my own abilities as an audience member. I would love to be able to really get into the spirit of the dick-swinging exorcism without pissing myself throughout, and I would genuinely love the opportunity to try running round screaming with the cast a bit too. (I also quite fancied the stage manager but was too knackered to do anything about it in Birmingham, although that’s another story.) It’s been a long time since a show has inspired such conflicted feelings in me, and warranted such extended consideration. If they do a DVD I guess I could try fast-forwarding through the penis bit just to see if I can do the rest of it without laughing. I wish I could just be fucking SERIOUS for five minutes.
Went to Forest Fringe last night and it was sweeeeeeet. I got to apologise to Andy for being a twat at least 3 or 4 times, and I discovered by new favourite thing in the history of everything: Sam Halmarack and the Miserablites. (I find it’s easier to remember if you call them Sam Allardyce and the Mysterons though. Just a wee tip for you there.)
After a first half of Augusto Corrieri (nice slides, nice voice, nice delivery - a thinky thing about inside and outside and space and negative space and big grand empty theatres very unlike The Gate) and Dan Canham (excellent use of masking tape and FUCKING INCREDIBLE EXORCIST FINGERS), I felt a bit chilled out and therapised and not at all like sitting through some theatre-maker’s fucking musical side-project. Darling, I grew out of gigs yahs ago.
And then, almost inevitably, it was the greatest thing ever ever ever EVER. I can’t say too much for fear of being the cock who tells you Bruce Willis is dead from the start, but Sam
Allardyce and the Mysterons Halmarack and the Miserablites are easily one of the best bands I’ve seen since, oooh… even since before I stopped going to see bands. Which sounds flippant but I don’t mean it to be. His voice completely broke my heart at least twice.
When I left the pub afterwards I started thinking again about the community that Forest Fringe has helped to grow. It’s absolutely true that it exists and that artists presenting new work under their banner can be confident that they’ll see friendly faces looking back at them. Last night I was intellectually challenged by Augusto Corrieri, then absolutely in awe of Dan Canham and how his body moves in UNBELIEVABLE ways, but it wasn’t until Sam Halmarack that an audience turned into a bunch of mates. I guess it’s a form thing. In the original review/preview that Lyn Gardner wrote last week, it was her line about the traditional relationship between spectator and performer that made me wonder about inclusivity and cliqueyness and all that shit. Maybe the impression I had got of Forest Fringe as some sort of private members’ club for performers on the bread-line comes not from FF as an organisation, but simply because the nature of the work they are programming expects an audience to involve themselves. Of course people are going to get to know one another if they have a common goal, a shared task, a game to play. That’s why we played Blocky-Off on the first day I joined the Brownies. That’s why we had to do group venue research in fresher’s week three years ago. That’s why museums are good for first dates.
IT’S ALL SO OBVIOUS NOW.
PS: You should go to Sam Halmarack’s tumblr because it’s ace.
A blog post by Andrew Haydon has been kicking around Twitter today. In reacting to Lyn Gardner’s recent review/preview/whatever of Forest Fringe’s residency at The Gate, he is covering several of the arguments in the critics vs bloggers debate. While I am making this something of a pet subject in my (nearly finished!) uni dissertation, it was something slightly different in Haydon’s post that caught my eye this time.
“The first thing I’m interested by is the way in which Gardner configures the Gate as somewhere:
‘where, for all its many possible configurations, the relationship between audience and stage remains one of spectator and performer.’
As a basic point, I’ll take that. At least, as far as Monday night went, there was a certain authority-of-the-stage going on. That said, it’s a pity that Gardner didn’t stick around for the quiz, as she’d have seen just how flimsy that sense of “authority” can be and just how quickly a space can lose its spectator/performer dynamic.”
I’ve never been to Forest Fringe in its Edinburgh incarnation. I had a ticket for something there last year but then Alvin Sputnik came up. I remember Hannah saying that most of the shows she saw outside of the Forest were a bit disappointing, and really she should have just stayed there for her whole trip, which is high praise indeed for something that takes place in the middle of the Edinburgh Fringe. High praise just coming from my friend Hannah.
I think that the main strength of Forest Fringe is that it is a friendly and nurturing environment for creative people to try out creative things. In providing space for that, it has attracted a community of said creatives who will sing its praises. When they’re not performing new work in front of a supportive audience, they can become that supportive audience. There is no door charge, so the cash-poor artists remain in their friendly, nurturing environment while the evil profit-mongering capitalists scurry across the rest of the city LIKE PLAGUE-RIDDEN RATS. Or like student theatre groups. Whichever.
(I can feel myself waffling on a bit already. My boiler’s just been fixed and throwing off my jumpers has created more than a bit of nervous energy. Will cut to the chase.)
I am entirely the wrong person to be making this point, since a) I have never been to Forest Fringe, b) I have got to know some people who make theatre on a shoestring and c) I like them, but no audience member wants to walk into a room (be it a deconsecrated church-cum-veggie cafe, or an auditorium where “the relationship between audience and stage remains one of spectator and performer”) to find themselves in the midst of a party where everyone knows everyone else except them. Of course the benefits of being able to share works-in-progress within a wide circle of similarly-minded artists vastly outweigh the discomfort of some poor friendless bastard who just wants a quiet night with a fourth wall, but if we want to attract adventurous audiences to adventurous work, we have to be aware that not everyone understands our in-jokes. Not everyone’s confident enough to take part in a quiz with people they’ve never met before.
I’m going to Forest Fringe at The Gate next Thursday. I’d put money on me knowing 3 or 4 people there, if only through Twitter. I don’t have a problem asking checkout assistants to get semi-undressed if I see an interesting tattoo poking out of a shirt collar, so a post-show quiz sounds like a fucking brilliant idea. But I’d be interested to know how many audience members attend the residency at The Gate with no connection to the community it plays host to, and how many of those felt like they (for want of a better expression) ‘fitted in’.
UPDATE 13/04/12: Andy Field has written a brilliant response to this, and calls me out on a load of stuff I’ve misunderstood/got completely wrong. I’ve published it here.
I went to a thing at the comedy festival last night. This is out of character for me, as I am normally too busy laughing at my own imagined encounters with Ryan Gosling to give time to entry-level stand-ups. Yesterday was the debut of the Citizen 598 show at Curve though, and I’ve spent far too much time chatting to those guys on twitter to not see what they were up to creatively.
They’d obviously done their market research, kicking things off with Mr Boombastic as entrance music. (Just try to think of a funnier song. Go on. Try it. You can’t, can you?) The show itself, called ‘Man’, was about masculinity and growing up and beards and stuff, but the thing that really made it stand out for me was a wonderful reminder of my first ever girl crush.
Yep. Before Courtney Love, before Christina Hendricks, before Kelly Brook did that swimwear range, there was Angel in Home and Away. Sweet, sweet, Angel…
I used to do my hair in plaits like that but my fringe would break free and spring up like a twat.
Here’s an amazing Angel fact for you: The actress, Melissa George, was once a world champion roller skater so they wrote scenes into the show where she was required to skate around Summer Bay. TALENTED AS WELL AS BEAUTIFUL.
Melissa George has gone to Hollywood for proper films now. She’s gone all normal and I haven’t seen her with plaits for aaaaages. *sheds a tear* *looks up at the stars* *pulls blanket closer* But, thanks to Citizen 598, the memories of Angel Parrish will remain in my heart forever….
Shows I have missed recently because I am entering the (hopefully) final stages of uni-related meltdown:
Audience (Ontoenderenderndrend Goed)
The Table (something to do with puppets)
Lovesong (dancing about bereavement - looked lovely)
42nd Street (everyone said it was mint)
PLS SEND HALP
Edit, 23.25: You can scratch Lovesong off that list. I got so pissed off with everything when I posted it at breakfast time that I said FUCK YOU THE MAN and got on a train after my lecture. Despite their excellent programming, I’m beginning to develop a grudge against the Lyric Hammersmith. I mean, if you’re going to make a big thing about moving your listed theatre, brick by brick, at least make sure there isn’t brass shit or fucking coppicing in every bloody sightline.
I think I may be a bit bad-tempered still.
Lovesong was worth the trip down though, and the late night. It was your standard barren-couple-grow-old-together stuff, but was very nicely done. Kind of gentle. It was a gentle play. Which is probably a good thing. What was that 50s film that heralded the ‘teenage revolution’ and made people rip up theatre seats? If I’d seen anything like that I might well be RAMPAGING atm. As it stands, I’m on a train, getting a bit sleepy. See that? THEATRE = GOOD FOR SOCIETY. We’re all saved.