Tag Archives: The Stage

go on, take a risk once in a while

take risks, unlike these folk

After reading one of Lyn Gardner’s recent blogs, I was pleased to see how she got incredibly enthused and impassioned by what theatre should be doing and whole heartedly I couldn’t agree more. I am most drawn to her point about risk – “When I’m in the theatre, I want to feel as if some kind of risk is taking place” she says. This takes me back to my days at university when I often discovered the value of this tool and device when creating theatre across a number of forms.

Whenever I went to see a piece I was often asking myself, ‘what did they risk there?’ If it was nothing, then I found that it was pretty pointless – Gardner finishes her blog with a Tim Etchells quote: “I ask of each performance: will I carry this event with me tomorrow? Will it haunt me? Will it change you, will it change me, will it change things? If not, it was a waste of time.” How true.

Speaking more specifically about some of the in-house productions at St. Mary’s University College, some of which I was involved in; these are the ones that still stick in my memory. In the second year, a dance piece called Belonging, a 12-month project culminating in a movement/performance art piece entitled The Healing Room and also my final piece Inside Cover. I can remember how they pushed limits and boundaries both technically and in content and how this thrilled me, moved me and stayed with me.

Sadly, what many practitioners often don’t come to realise is that theatre is the place to take a risk. It’s where the opportunity is created and where the potential and real world can be ‘played’ with finding limits and boundaries. So I find myself asking, why aren’t more theatre makers doing this? Directly, I feel it is somewhat because of the ‘why’, as in they aren’t discovering why to take a risk and I’m not saying take a risk for risk sake. Perhaps taking a leaf out of Atonin Artaud’s book, quite literally, in the Theatre and its Double and injecting some ‘Theatre of Cruelty’ – and why so? Well, summed up brilliantly here –

The Theatre of Cruelty has been created in order to restore to the theatre a passionate and convulsive conception of life, and it is in this sense of violent rigour and extreme condensation of scenic elements that the cruelty on which it is based must be understood. This cruelty, which will be bloody when necessary but not systematically so, can thus be identified with a kind of severe moral purity which is not afraid to pay life the price it must be paid.

– Antonin Artaud, The Theatre of Cruelty, in The Theory of the Modern Stage (ed. Eric Bentley), Penguin, 1968, p.66

What I love about theatre especially, is that you can use it to play in the face of adversity. I believe that only in theatre, you can toy with an idea so much, to tempt it and push it to see just how far it goes. So, as we face such adverse weather, it doesn’t put a stop to the performance, yet we must, as always, take a risk and push against it.

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hippodrome news update

The fate of the Derby Hippodrome will be decided at London’s High Court next Thursday. Until then “repair” works will cease. Read my post on Derby’s troubled theatres here. Read the full post on The Stage website here.

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who’s getting that edinburgh feeling?

           It's hotting up in Scotland

The Edinburgh International Festivalhas released their new programme for this year’s festival (wahey!) and I have to confess, nothing gets me more excited. The fact that it features 11 major pieces of theatre, making it the most theatre focused programme in years, also gets my vote of confidence – especially with the daunting International Comedy Festival threatening theatre reputation at the festival.

Rumours were that Jonathan Mills, artistic director of EIF, was going to feature a lot of music, and so the theatre packed programme has come as a welcome surprise. Speaking to The Stage newspaper, Mills said:-

 “A lot of people said, ‘Oh, this guy from Australia is a muso, he’ll do a lot of music’. But, actually, I am as interested in the theatre programme as I am in the dance programme.”

Good on him.

There is also a potent feature of dance, which further strengthens theatre and dance as a major player of the whole Edinburgh festival – International and Fringe.

Mills also speaks about his “maturation of the relationship” with Matthew Bourne (Nutcracker! appeared in the 1992 EIF). Bourne will return to this year’s festival with his company New Adventures and this sort of household name is a welcome boost – let’s hope we see some other names up there in years to come, where Mills calls Edinburgh a place that “has nurtured many people’s careers.”

Now all we have to do is wait for 5 June – the launch of the Official Fringe Programme. It’ll be a first glance at who’s there and who’s where – for those who aren’t, they’ll certainly be missing out. I just can’t wait for the programme to drop through the door!

n.b. for those of you who read the post chiefs say – “no rain in our theatre!” – it was an April fool – of course you knew that though, right?

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