Brighton Festival is ON. Don’t miss it!!

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 11.38.46

William Forsythe’s choreographic object populates the old municipal market space with hundreds of delicate pendulums, swinging in timed sequences. As you move around without touching the pendulums, your strides and side-steps will produce a lively choreography of manifold and intricate avoidance strategies.

Forsythe’s blend of choreography and artwork, in which you become the dancer, contrasts reactive spontaneity and pre-programmed precision. This is the latest reinvention of a piece that evolves in reaction to the space it occupies: a tribute to a great Brighton landmark destined to become a new Dance Space for the city.

William Forsythe is hailed as one of the world’s most innovative choreographers, credited with moving the focus of dance from the classical tradition to a dynamic, 21st century artform. In recent years he has been exploring the notion of movement in its widest context, with a series of acclaimed installations, artworks and films.


The ultimate in crossing disciplines, 1927 offers revolution in animated form.

“The rich get richer and live on milk and honey, while the poor get poorer. We want what you have.”
Cries of the 2011 riots, social deprivation, inequality and ghettoisation are at the core of The Animals and Children took the streets. Yet, 1927 have created a charming, clever and mischievous performance that pokes fun at the audience whilst playfully experimenting with form.
And it’s funny. It’s sharp, a dark comedy that successfully draws on adult humour – Agnes Eaves who aspire to changing lives by creating an art club; Wayne the racist and his racist offspring who run riot, the Caretaker, upon eating a Kit-kat, congratulates himself that, “all in all, today was a pretty good day.”
1927’s keen eye and excellent attention to detail highlight the frustrating bureaucracy of modern day living; the 10 hour wait in A&E for an exploding kidney, only to be given a plaster and advised to take a paracetamol, the helplines that promise advise but instead play synchronised versions of Greensleaves for hours on end and never help and the absurdity of having to buy a train ticket 14 days in advance or having to pay £777.77p for a single journey on the day of travel.
Perhaps what is most interesting, is 1927’s determination to cross disciplines and play with performance mode; animation meets live performance meets cabaret meets pantomime meets clowning meets poetry….Traces of Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt were clear here. Devises which prevented the audience in being passively swept away by story and character but instead, in drawing attention to form and creating a more conscious and critical observer; a large pen, suitcase and book are depicted through cardboard props with the words clearly branded across them. Throughout the performance, 1927 shift the mood and genre from a gothic type of fairytale, rooted in a storytelling tradition, to seductively reminding us of their attempt to imitate reality in their highly skilled ‘pretending.’ They often return to the ‘alienation’ of the audience but do so stylistically – and in keeping with the tone of the piece.
Yet, strangely I did miss the prominence of the actor’s body on stage. Largely, individual actors stuck to their side of the stage and their projected animation. To me, the absence of the performers’ touching, interacting and utilising the stage space fully made the performance more disparate, which brings us back to the age-old debate concerning mediatisation and the difficulty in bringing screens and bodies together without one dominating the other. Yet, perhaps what I’m pining for doesn’t need to be there – and what makes their work innovative. Certainly, the absence of touch and interaction alerts me to the fact that I’m watching a performance and highlights their artistic choices regarding form, mode and parallels with Brecht.
What intrigued me is how they created the work and what came first as the performers’ response to the animation was seamless, but supposedly impossible to do before the animation was created. In coming across an interview in IdeasTap, animator Paul Barritt states that “we worked backwards, which we’ll never do again – we didn’t have a story until a month ago, and you just can’t work like that. Combining live performance and animation is also quite a rigorous thing because it is so time-consuming to make and get right. In the future, we’ll sit down and work out our story well in advance – devising has added a lot of extra work.” Although devising may have added extra work for 1927, their performance holds up, in my opinion, because of the delicate balance which they created in crossing disciplines and born from a devising process. The animation was prominent in the work, but the performers, the poetry and pertinence of the piece fought their corner extremely well.
Overall, the audience left the theatre amused, charmed by the animation and 1927’s clever choices but disturbed in equal measure, mulling over 1927’s departing words;
“Born in the Bayou; die in the Bayou.
We prefer it this way, too.”

The Animals and Children took the streets is on at The Old Market Theatre until the 9th of March. Catch it whilst you can.


Theatre is a weapon….


The Ulster Kama Sutra, created by Andrea Montgomery and Nuala McKeever, are bringing a production to the stage which aims to challenge the dour conservative views prominent in the local media.

“It’s being billed as Thunderbirds meets The Vagina Monologues and its subject is rather delicate: the sex lives of the supposedly conservative, uptight, God-fearing people of Ulster.”

Initially the duo were keen to use actors (rather than puppets) but when pitching the production to venues they discovered that their work was deemed too controversial and too provocative – by using humans.

Therefore, cue the puppets. Interestingly, venues were happy to support the same production with the use of puppets. So, what does this mean – that puppetry is less subversive – less controversial – has less impact? It can offer distance that bodies on stage cannot? It’s a safe option.

Historically though, puppetry is a subversive form. Its political role began in revolutionary 17th Century England with popular figure of Punch, (of Punch & Judy fame) Famous for being a hero of the working class he broke sacrosanct laws – he mocked God, The King, the law and even Death. Consider also the Bread & Puppet theatre company, offering a powerful language to demonstrate against concerns of the day. During the Vietnam War, Bread and puppet staged block-long processions and pageants involving hundreds of people.

But what is perhaps more interesting is the need to mask controversial work. Hidden meanings. Secret messages. Innuendos.

Consider theatre practitioners, supported by the Federal Theatre Project in the 1930s, who aimed to create work which seemingly supported the government whilst offering another layer of hidden anti-establishment meaning.

It’s a shame that it’s still necessary today. Still, what it does prove is that theatre is a weapon,”too dangerous to be allowed in society” (Plato) as powerful now as it was in Ancient Greece. Consider  the production of The River and the Mountain, staged in Uganda, which tells the story of a young businessman coming to terms with being gay in a climate of homophobia. Not only was this production banned by the authorities but British producer, David Cecil, was even arrested in September last year and was facing two years in jail for staging the play, before being deported back to the UK.

I don’t often leave the theatre with the impetus to change my life, with the feeling that theatre is a weapon, a tool for change. Yet, it’s obviously powerful enough to provoke strong and angry responses. Belfast was one of the first cities in the UK, for instance, to try to ban the rock opera Jesus Christ…superstar! So it was banned. Prohibited. Censored.

It’s even powerful enough to force the Ugandan authorities to arrest and deport a British producer. So, hats off to Andrea Montgomery and Nuala McKeever for finding a way to stage their work, reach new audiences, and provoke a reaction!


How web video powers global innovation

TED’s Chris Anderson says the rise of web video is driving a worldwide phenomenon he calls Crowd Accelerated Innovation — a self-fueling cycle of learning that could be as significant as the invention of print. But to tap into its power, organizations will need to embrace radical openness.


So here’s an exciting link, if you like revolutionary materials and innovative uses of such:

This one I pasted: lets see if it works …

This one I linked, lets see how it works any better …