theatre-a-go-go

01Nov09

There’s a cornucopia of inspiring theatre events at the moment – some I’ve seen, some I’ve missed and some which I’m still relishing.

Bodies in Flight reprised their morning-commute audio-walk Dream>work last week on the streets around Market Square, Nottingham. The piece was originally commissioned by Singapore-based Spell7 for the Chinatown district and has been redeveloped for the NOTTdance09 Festival.

Twelve participants at a time, at 8am, 9am & 10am, followed performer Polly Frame and sound artist Sam Halmarack their journey through the morning people-traffic. Transmitter technology (developed by Duncan Speakman) allowed live, spoken text to be layered over pre-recorded texts, sound and music – all live mixed into the real-time audioscape of the rush-hour city centre and received through earpieces. Though seemingly exclusive to an outside world, I felt a connection to the unfurling events of the city.  Successful audiowalks illuminate the backdrop of the city in a new way;  as if you’re a character in a movie, slightly detached but with a predestined narrative which you yield to.  I became aware that we were but a handful of a thousand moving characters in the story – ourselves watched by a community of semi-static guardians – shopkeepers and security personnel,  increasingly cogniscent of the extraordinary game being played out and buying into it, despite not hearing what we could hear. A natural auditorium at the heart of the Broadmarsh shopping centre allowed for a spectacular setting worthy of BladeRunner – with crossing escalators carrying unknowing performers on their travels, whilst Polly engaged others in conversations in a lift. As with most of my favourite artworks, it is the idea that wins through, not necessarily the substance or elusive ‘meaning’. To be able to walk back out into the world thinking anew, with some new sense of possibility about the world and how we can see it. What was here a privilege for the few could work as a more expansive project without compromising the personal nature of it.

A couple of days later I saw the spectacularly designed  Kellerman by Imitating the Dog at the Cochrane Theatre, London. Co-written/directed by Andrew Quick and Pete Brooks, the piece plays out a graphic novel aesthetic, operatic in scale. The performances are very intimately choreographed, though, and I was left wishing that the performers could more often escape from, or interact with, the machinery of projections – though I realise that the projection source is so complex that it cannot be live mixed.  It was excellent to see Pete for the first time in 14 or so years  (particularly appropriate given the hilarious ’14-years ago’ diary entries that Nick Walker is currently publishing on his retrojournaling blog – in which Pete features prominently)

I missed Little Earthquake’s The Houdini Exposure when my ‘too much travel and trick-or-treat’ ravaged body finally gave in to a cold last night. So I’ll just have to hope for recovery in time for this week’s triad of  site-specific works: The lavishly designed edible performance Eat Your Heart Out from Kindle Theatre @AE Harris (all this week until sunday 8th), Foursight Theatre / Black Country Touring’s epic, community-inspired The Corner Shop, which also runs until sunday 8th at an empty shop unit in Wolverhampton’s Mander Centre. I’m also looking forward to watching a preview of Jane Packman’s Woods Project, performed at dusk in Highbury Park, King’s Heath.

Aside from The Little Sister, I’m now bending my performance muscle to Untied Artists Al Bowlly’s Croon Manifesto. A first meeting this morning helped to fashion a structure and rationale for a First Bite Festival presentation, which will take place @AE Harris in ten days time. Jake, Peter Cann and the band gave Al Bowlly an early draft outing at Pilot in the summer. (see vid documentation)

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