The Pituitary Gland Page 3: Editorial Page 4 - 12: Comment Page 13 - 16: Phaedra's Love Page 17 -21: Tell Tale Page 22 - 25: White House Institute Page 26 - 27: 4 Bar and Rising Page 28: Our Country's Good Page 29 - 31: Guidelines for Measures to Cope Page 32 - 33: Bad House Page 34 - 35: Point Horror Drama Seriel Part 4 Page 36 - 38: Crew/ LOs Page 39 - 42: Back Pages Page 43: Preview Page 44: Credits
Phil Mann censors the Claire TrĂŠvien dissects you for spare change red pen In the festival discussion yesterday, one member of the audience asked if there could be a "press embargo" on the content of shows in NOFF before everyone's seen the show. I shouted, "No!" in a silly falsetto, everyone laughed and we moved along.
Have you ever sat in a theatre amongst an audience clearly enjoying itself, and wondered if there was something wrong with you? Alternatively, have you ever enjoyed a play immensely but in the face of everyone else's disapproval quenched your enthusiasm? Stop doing that.
There is nothing invalid about your gut reaction to a play. I wish But, in the bar, I've been asked someone had told me this earlier, to write about this "censorship so here's my pseudo-old-timer issue" by several people, and I'm advice to take or to discard. happy to. There will be no censorship. Well, for a start it'd be impractical to only print Stamping on your visceral reaction reviews after all the shows close. to a performance with received Also, if the NSDF is a sandbox opinions that do not fit in with for the larger theatrical your experience is an easy community, it's important for temptation that may, in the short companies to recognise the term, make you feel good but it importance of promotion, how rarely amounts to good writing. I the press deal with your work should know, I wrote an incredible and what kind of demands will amount of rubbish in my first be placed on you as a years at NSDF because I was too professional. shy to take what I believed to be a In order to sell your work, you often need to pick the best, most striking images to represent what it is you're going to do. There's no shame in this and although sometimes it's painful to let the cat out of the bag, especially on something you've been working so hard on, if you don't promote your work for all it's worth no one is going to hand over their money in return for a ticket.
'wrong' stand. This festival I have encountered a breadth of people who still doubt their reaction, preferring to cautiously gauge the general direction feedback is heading in. It is hard for me to resist the temptation of transforming into a creature crowing omens of the 'Beware! Beware!' variety. This is not to say that when it comes to writing a review you should only consider your gutreaction, but do try to see it as a useful tool in your arsenal to help you analyze the play and pull apart the factors that may have contributed to your response. The written result might be a little less harsh, or a little less gushy than your initial experience, but it will almost certainly be a better piece.
'The NSDF is a sandbox for the larger theatrical community'
'There is nothing invalid about your gut reaction to a play'
COMMENT ANDREW HAYDON
Andrew Haydon is Unwell
And he doesn't like someone else today Like Anthony Mamos, I missed the first NSDF discussion this year, but since it still prompted his article, The Defence of Contemp-oree (Noises Off'10, Sun, p.4), I feel safe responding to the points he raises. And what a curious mixed bag of points they are. I don't know who first raised the question: "Where are all the classical texts this year?" (although I could take a rough guess, Robert Hewison) or how it was framed, but "contemporary work" is an interesting label. In his piece, Mamos adopts "contemporary" to mean "devised" or "completely new" - I
"Going on right now is the essence of contemporaneity" suspect it was initially intended to include the extant plays being performed at the festival; the oldest of which being Timberlake Wertenbaker's 22-year-old veritable geriatric Our Country's Good. It is at least refreshing not to see that a specious division being driven between "New Writing" and "Devised Work". That debate was always nonsense and is now largely spent, having been debated across blog on blog and in the comment threads of the Guardian Theatre Blog, even unto death. So, Contemporary Vs Classical is a nice new stupid argument to take its place. According to Mamos, "the question of the validity of contemporary work, particularly devised pieces, was raised at today's discussion". Firstly, assuming this is a fair account, I'd
ask "Why?" and "By whom?" After all, isn't all work made this year "contemporary" by definition? Whether it be a new piece devised by students or Nick Hytner's revival of The London Assurance at the NT, isn't it all going on right now? Going on right now is the essence of contemporaneity. Questioning the validity of "the contemporary" wholesale seems to be somewhat counterproductive, but perhaps in the Festival bubble, the question seems more pressing. Out here in the wider world, however, I can assure Mr Mamos that "the contemporary" really isn't in need of defence. If anything, there is far more funding available to develop new work, to join a "New Writing Programme", to "scratch" work at any number of festivals, than there is any opportunity to stage a classical text. Mamos goes a bit further than defence, though. His "problem with classical theatre is simple [he] doesn't like stories. [He] doesn't like being led by the hand through a narrative which aims to take [him] on an emotional curve through suspense to a unified conclusion." Fair enough. That's a pretty hardcore attitude and I suspect him of rather overstating his position for the sake of his argument, but that's fine, I do see where he's coming from. I've read Han-Thies Lehmann and Heiner Muller, I've seen work by RenĂŠ Pollesch, Rimini Protokoll, Gisele Vienne, Action Hero, Frank Castorf, Onroerend Goed, Tinned Fingers, Ivana Muller and, uh, Forced Entertainment (to
name but several). I too, can happily live without a plot. What's more interesting is the direct comparison between the comments from the discussion of "the Classics" and the reviews of Dartington's 4 Bar and Rising. Of the former Claire TrĂŠvien notes, "Some DeMontfort students at the discussion mentioned a fear
of misunderstanding these texts." Meanwhile, the 4 Bar reviews frequently made reference to the apparently oblique nature of the work - its lack of story, its opaque meaning, etc. In other words "a fear of misunderstanding this text". It is apparent that this is not a simple question of ownership, but of confidence, theatrical vocabulary, entitlement, and the width of one's frame-ofreference. Both "contemporary" movement-based, non-linear work and the canon of "classics" seem to throw different sets of students into apologetic or defiant despair. The initial problem is one of anxiety, engendered primarily by the British education system, with a hefty bunk-up from wider British culture. British schools, with their emphasis on Shakespeare-exam passing, set up an almost perfect system for putting everyone off, while tacitly
COMMENT ANDREW HAYDON reinforcing the idea that Shakespeare - and by extension, the Greeks, the Romans, the rest of the Renaissance, the Spanish Golden Age, the Restoration, French neo-classicists, Enlightenment Germans, C19th Russians and so on - is a) difficult, and, b) something that you can get wrong. When that is coupled to our boisterously Philistine culture, which deplores poncing about (a field into which theatre squarely falls, no matter how straightforward it is), and then to received wisdoms about "serving the text" and "doing it properly", one can imagine why students might feel more inclined to approach something with a bit less baggage. Especially if, from the other side, they are being bombarded with information
"An almost perfect system for putting everyone off" about more cutting-edge practioners and casual theories about how staging the classics is somehow reactionary, conservative or backward-looking.
Ironically, the students who have been given this impression then go on to create work which causes similar anxieties in those following the more "Eng. Lit." route through "text-based theatre". Coming from the latter background, I still remember the first bit of contemporary dance I saw that I didn't dismiss out of hand, and the hours-long conversation I had afterwards with a dancer friend who patiently answered my questions until I felt comfortable that I understood what I'd seen. The fact is, assuming good faith and ability on the part of the makers, theatre can and often is a two-way exchange. There's work in front of you (or around you, or whatever), but you often have to work at it too, but once you're familiar with the genre, suddenly the viewing experience is transformed. The same is of course true of Shakespeare and the classics. Mamos nearly concludes: "we could use these techniques to retell someone else's classic story OR we could use them to blow the minds of our audience with something truly new... There are also some important, fascinating
and truly beautiful pieces of contemporary theatre which move me and provoke thought in a way which no classical story ever could." (We'll ignore Sidney's bit about being moved to virtue, as it's the silliest sort of utilitarian argument imaginable - who wants to be "moved to virtue" FFS? Possibly David Hare and Michael Billington, but that's not what art is for). I'm not entirely sure I buy the absolutism. So: a plea. Stop thinking about
"Stop thinking about the classics like you have been" the classics like you have been. Later this week there's Sarah Kane's Phaedra's Love. Have a look at that, note that it is "contemporary theatre" - a text but also a "re-tell[ing of] someone else's classic story". And then think about the million ways Kane's text itself might be staged. And maybe think about being less hung up on the boundaries. Stage Shakespeare. If necessary cut more than half the text. Stick a bunch of stuff into it. There's no rule saying you can't (in most of Europe I think there's probably a law saying you must). Think again about what you're trying to say, how you're saying it, and why you're saying it. If you want a final argument, go and have a look at what Heiner Muller did to "classical" texts. Trust me, there's very little by way of "narrative, emotional curve, suspense or unified conclusion". Surprise yourself.
Punched by a Pashmina!?
British failing to queue well reports Christopher Gorry Picture the scene: you take your group of young people, that you are responsible for, to sign up for the workshops. You arrive at The Spa centre for 8:45AM and wait in line in an orderly fashion. I think to myself: 'Oh good the Management obviously addressed the organisational nightmare of Sunday's workshop sign-up process' As the line starts to move slowly, I think 'oh this is good they're doing a staggered entry. Genius!' However what seemed to follow was what can only be described as pandemonium. Rude and arrogant drama students fumbled, climbed, pushed, shoved and barged their way to the workshop desks they wanted to sign up for. Looking back on yesterday morning's palaver a few years from now may well be quite humorous. But to be brutally honest, if these are the kind of people that attend the NSDF it may well prevent me bringing a group in future years. Highlights of yesterday morning's antics were one of the females in my group being punched by a pleasant pashmina wearing young man, as he dived for a workshop ticket. Another female of the group was entwined in a contact impro exercise (She only wanted to sign up for the Mike Leigh Q and A!) and lots of generally brash mannerless morons. I think there is a solution. The three options I would like to propose to the management of the festival are: * An orderly line on the concourse entrance to the spa,
with 30 young people being admitted at a time, signing up for the workshops and then leaving from the far exit of the information room, thus creating a one way system. Yes, it may take a couple of staff members to manage but ultimately, it would be calmer and fundamentally more productive.
Preparing to punch a pashmina
*A cheese ticket system like the ones you get in Morrison's?!
"Supply each person attending the festival with a knife: last one standing gets to do a workshop with Christopher This isn't just the responsibility Eccleston?!" of the Management of the *Supply each person attending the festival with a knife: last one standing gets to do a workshop with Christopher Eccleston?!
festival folks. Whilst one can hope that the management team witnessed the mess that was yesterday morning, there will always be rude people and those of you that are, good luck. But maybe, as an educated young person, it's your responsibility to show a bit of respect towards Cassandra Fumi each other rather than the cringe worthy, pathetic, rude, attitudes I have just got the buzz: that that were on display yesterday amazing feeling you get when you get off stage and you realize it is all morning. worthwhile. You can't go to bed, Or maybe I'm wrong?! Maybe you need to surround yourself with the NSDF is just another people who have been working as example of the ever-increasing hard as you. The feeling you get middle-class elitist, self righteous when you walk off stage is environment that infuriates the irreplaceable. It does not matter fuck out of me and is the precise how much work you have done, reason why sometimes I hate how long it has been since you have being associated with the theatre slept in, how long it had been since industry. you have had a hot meal and a day 'It's our festival folks' maybe we not fuelled by energy drinks. This should try making it accessible feeling makes it all worth it. As a performer in Phaedra's love I got it and enjoyable for all? tonight: why I was doing what I am. To see the faces in the audiences tonight, they were
What My Blue Pupils Saw From the Stage
COMMENT shocked, they wept and they laughed and they made me feel good about what I have chosen to devote my life to. The dressing room was buzzing with the faces of all the people I had worked so hard with to create this play. The vision of our director was occurring and let's face it, to put it simply, it was fun! Yes, I have to get up early and re-print pictures, watch as a friend makes more sausages that pose as cocks. But it is Fun to create something that hopefully left an impact to some pupils. This is Theatre! This why we do what we do, to feel like this.
in a secret society controlling NSDF
"Watch as a friend makes more sausages that pose as cocks"
Invisible Theatre... My Arse Rebekka Taylor questions authority
DO they think we're fucking stupid? One member of roundhouse told me in secrecy to look out for the oddly dressed visitors of the bar. Failing to find a 'normally dressed' non-thespian in the spa bar, I gave up on the peculiar short-lived fable of the 'one-on-one exclusive invite only theatre experience'. This radio editor I had met in workshop had tuned in to my unparalleled gullibility, and was having a laugh at my expense.
randomers, and hilariously, a lovely form of evening entertainment in the Spa Bar can be watching those groups of youths who have heard the rumour and are desperate for said ticket. The eccentrics among us being approached endlessly with meaningless conversation are surely growing tired of being generalised as 'The Odd Looking Bar-Folk', while the people hoping to get to the bottom of the mystery seem relentless.
Was he? As my Sunday evening drew on it became clear that I was not alone in the impression that an 'invisible theatre' company was operating and selecting a few people to spark up conversations with them. These oddly dressed characters are fabled to question their chosen victims about their hopes, dreams, likes, dislikes, pet peeves and fetishes. Gradually fermenting and infecting the young minds of this festival community, the word has spread. Like rumours in a public school, the concepts have gradually been embellished, inflated, manipulated, the characters gradually taken further from their reality.
"Gradually fermenting and infecting the young minds of this festivalk community"
With the power of Google behind me I have learnt that the 'Belt-Up' group are currently working on Kafka's 'The Trial', adapted by Dominic J Allen, as well as 'The Tartuffe by Moliere James Wilkes'. What Google fails to enlighten me on is this insular buzz that has passed through the group, with each person having their own take on the story. NSDF's 'Golden Ticket' may just lay within the grasp of those bold enough to spark up conversation with
And so - NSDFers, as I write I wonder who will be reading my thought processes. What is your take on this mystery, have you been invited? (Have you the Golden Ticket?) Have you approached a member and failed? Is it all malarkey? Form your own opinions, talk to everybody you see, extravagantly dressed or not, and be prepared to come across something entirely unexpected. An invite to a B&B, a once in a lifetime theatre experience? And you may also question my position within this strange secret world, for as far as you know I may be the strange woman you approached last night in the bar with hope of leaving with the fabled business card inviting you to the seedy B&B room. I may even have such a card lying next to my Blackberry on the NOFF desk - or maybe, maybe, it's all complete shit, and Dave from Roundhouse is having a real laugh.
Is it a bird? Is a plane? No, it's Jonathan Britton Auditions are currently being held in New York for the part of Mary Jane in the new Broadway musical Spider-man: Turn off the Dark. This is not a casting tip for any aspiring musical divas, nor do I mention it because I'm particularly enthusiastic (or unenthusiastic) at the prospect of a U2 penned songfest celebrating this wall crawling vigilante. I am excited, however, about what it symbolises, for this musical is one of the very few examples of a stage play whose origins are rooted in the comic book medium. I use the word medium very specifically. Too often comics are solely associated with superheroes, but this is a fallacy, it's the equivalent of saying all television is soap opera. While superhero stories are the dominant genre within comics, they are merely a genre, and not reflective of the medium as a whole. American Splendor writer Harvey Pekar describes the appeal of comics as "they are just words and pictures, and you can do anything with words and pictures." Comics are a medium through which to tell stories, like any other, like film, like prose, like theatre. Comics are a relatively young medium, the language, techniques and technology to produce them have been developed almost entirely within the last century. For much of their development the medium was used for children's stories or for brief and disposable newspaper strips. From the 60s onwards writers
such as Pekar, Alan Moore and Art Spiegleman have broken out of genre trappings and age brackets and shown that comics can tell challenging, complex and mature stories. Awareness of these advances though has not always been immediate. Ten years ago Ghost World sent ripples around the film world; a critically acclaimed film had been made from a comic book, a hitherto untapped resource. American Splendour, Road to Perdition and a History of Violence followed
"Comic books have never had so much respect, unfortunately this attitude has not reached the theatre" and even conventional comic book adaptations such as The Dark Knight became more sophisticated. Comic books have never had so much respect, unfortunately this attitude has not reached the theatre, American Splendor has been adapted but, if it isn't aimed at children, the occasional comic book adaptation is relegated to the fringes. I could find no example of a truly successful adaptation aimed at adults. There are two major reasons for this. The first is snobbery: There is a wide gulf between the supposed high culture of theatre and low culture of the comic book medium, even though work such as Neil Gaiman's Sandman is highly literate and as sophisticated as any Royal Court or National
Theatre production. This explains why the only serious exception to the no adaptation rule is in musical theatre. You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, Annie and the 1960s Superman musical have all enjoyed a measure of success and the latter is currently being revived in order to compete with Spiderman. Musical theatre is often subjected to the same snobbery, seen as a lesser low brow cousin of 'proper' theatre and therefore an appropriate home for the comic book adaptation. The second is a reason I can actually fully understand and one that should be paid attention to when adapting anything from one medium to another. The languages of the two mediums are entirely different, theatre is in the present tense, with action happening right here and right now before an audience. Comics have the filmic ability to guide a reader visually through a story and draw appropriate focus with 'camera angles' while, at the same time, a reader can revisit moments and approach the story at their own speed as they could with prose. Unless it is a specific decision to try and replicate the language of comics on stage (and if so, there better be a good
COMMENT reason for that decision) it would be best to abandon all vestiges of the original form and make something that is theatrical, difficult, but by no means impossible. Beyond any apprehension about the medium's origins and conventions the question any theatre maker must ask themselves is this: are there stories worth adapting? The answer is a resounding yes. There is no reason why Mark Ravenhill can adapt Terry Pratchett's Nation for the National and not Bill Willingham's Fables or Alan Moore's From Hell. Looking at the quality of work here at the NSDF I'd love to see what some of these companies would do using the work of Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes or Bryan Lee O'Malley as source material or
stimuli. There are many arguments against adaptation, but it has always happened and will always happen, ideas cannot be owned by any one medium, if they were there would be far fewer great films, plays and novels. The best we can do is to make sure that the best people adapt the best work for the right reasons. Many comic books cannot be adapted, many more should not be, and the last thing I want to see is works being fundamentally misinterpreted onstage or motivated purely by profit. I am quite confident however that for every Spiderman: Turn off the Dark, for every Shopping, Fucking and Popeye, there are a host of brilliant potential adaptations. The comic book medium is one that contains a wealth of
characters, stories and ideas; it is time to break down the walls and start borrowing.
"The comic book medium is one that contains a wealth of characters, stories and ideas; it is time to break down the walls and start borrowing."
Death By Sign-Up Judges Matt Judges
I woke up Monday morning, ready for a theatrical packed day. I walked down to the spa complex ready to sign up for a workshop when I found myself in a pit of eager drama students all pushing and shoving to get the best possible workshop places. I think that the system for signing up for workshops should be changed, as it could be dangerous for many if something bad were to happen. I overheard a man telling a steward that he thought the system was potentially very hazardous.
slots for each route available. if this isn't possible, have the sign up in a larger room so that everything is more spread out and people aren't piling in. Obviously, not insulting the way the NSDF is being run, but I just
think this could be changed to help improve the safety of other students. I know that I am not the only one with this opinion, as many of my peers abd friends have the same thoughts about the potential hazard thse large groups of people could cause.
I think, to improve it, each coloured route should have their own time slot for the signing up, and limit the amount in each workshop for each route, i.e a 20 person workshop should have 5
Tragedy? Don't make me laugh! laughs Cate McLoughlin "Comedy is the most difficult aspect of performance: once you master comedy, you can master almost anything." These wise words were recently offered by one Damian Kell, within a comedy performance workshop which I was privileged enough to attend. I realise, of course, that citing this statement may cause some degree of controversy (tragedians may indeed fall to their knees, raise their arms to the sky, and weep profusely) however, I must admit, I am inclined to agree with Mr Kell. Despite contemporary theatrical attempts to branch out into the many sub-genres of drama, I believe that it still remains that most (note my avoidance at generalisation) narrative productions can be defined as tragic or comedic. I am not dismissing, of course, the amount of hard work that goes into creating an effective piece of tragedian theatre - trust me, I'm pretty poor at it - however I do believe that themes can be...similar, to say the least. For the sake of this article, let us suggest that the aim of a tragedian performance is to induce tears and a sense of empathy from the audience; and that a comedy's is to tempt laughter from the mouths of that same audience, and create a sense of blissful lethargy. Taking this, it is perhaps possible to see the beginning themes of a play - be it devised or scripted. There are always going to be
certain themes which make your audience cry - and if you're a drama student then the likelihood is that you're more than familiar with them. Mental illnesses, suicide, stolen innocence, unjustified extreme violence, and abuse form some of the usual suspects found in tragedian theatre, where (if they are done well, and if your audience show a vague shred of humanity) they can produce the required impact: think crying in the aisles, nightmares, a sudden need to contribute to a charity of some kind, etc. Comedy, I feel is an entirely different matter. It does not require an audience to possess humanity - in fact, in some cases, it requires exactly the opposite. It only takes a quick glance at 'The Hothouse', for example, to see the gaping cavern where Pinter's heart should be filled instead with nonsensical gags and humorous caricatures of humanity. Yet, this is not to say that by constructing a piece of theatre that is both nonsense filled and incoherent, you will automatically reduce your audience to fits of laughter - take The League of Gentlemen, for example. I suppose comedy can too be reduced to its basics (slapstick, sarcasm, nonsense, and manners), however, who's to say that any of these themes will make someone laugh? Laughter is in fact defined as a spontaneous expression of mirth, pleasure, derision or nervousness, and therefore there can be no certain formula to make something 'funny'. Surely,
humour depends on a delicate balance of the mood of the audience, the timing of the performer and the atmosphere within the venue - and that's before you even begin to look at the actual gag being presented. Comedy cannot rely on hours of rehearsal to increase its humour; in fact, I often find the best comedy to be created from improvisation, or from a raw script. Therefore, is it fair to say that comedy is in need of a list clichĂŠd themes, which all of the audience must try to appreciate? Of course not. If an audience is forced to laugh at a performance, the performance might as well be a tragedy. I guess the only conclusion I can bring this rant...I mean...article to, is to quote the legendary Charlie Chaplin in saying "Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.", and hope that I'm not followed home by any Stanislavski tragedians, looking for inspiration for their next clichĂŠd storyline...
"Surely, humour depends on a delicate balance of the mood of the audience, the timing of the performer and the atmosphere within the venue"
Chris Thorpe sheds light upon the selection process a view inside the great man's mind, by Hannah Dolan Questions about genre, style, and the variety of work on show at the festival opened the first of this year's interesting and thoughtprovoking discussions. I first came to the festival as a 6th form student with my drama teacher in 2000 and have been coming back for more inspiration ever since. The subject of the selection process comes up every year and has caused heated debate and disgruntled responses (mainly from companies whose shows haven't been selected) and often leads to festgoers feeling like they are out of the loop and that a hidden agenda is preventing their shows from being selected. Chris Thorpe offered a light at the end of the tunnel and a real sense of what the selectors are keen to see and experience on their selection journey. It was really refreshing to hear a selector speaking so articulately about the selection process, which for years, has been almost a taboo subject. 'Excellence' is a very broad term to use when judging the merits of a piece - Chris clarified that the selectors are not basing their decisions purely on an emotional
response but an exceptional theatre craft, whatever the genre. Of course, there is an element of subjectivity involved if a selector is not moved or effected by a piece then I question how it meets the criteria of 'excellence'.
asking what schools want from their education packs I mentionned that it would be an idea for companies to explore what it is that young people are making and what they aspire to create.
As a head of department of a small, mixed, comprehensive school with Arts specialism, the festival offers my students inspiration for the eyar ahead. Historically, the school has entered devised work each year with one succesful show and numerous invites to the Ensemble. We continue to enter work that we feel is interesting and that the students have ownership of but our main dilemna is how to avoid reflecting the interesting work we have seen at the festival this year. Ideas about style and genre for us are sparked by the festival as a result of our experiences during the week.
Selectors are already seeing the work we enter and giving initial feedback on the selection evening. Perhaps the next step is offering our students the opportunity to work with companies and artists to nurture their own new work. Maybe next year....
How then, can we make work that starts to change the nature of the playlist at the festival? And more to the point do we need to?
"It was really refreshing to hear a selector speaking so articulately about the selection process, which for years, has been almost a taboo subject."
In a recent discussion with a theatre in Leeds where they were
How Harry Sees It: Bad House Harry Parsons
Bad House: bad play.
The Torture of the Talent Crush Dreams Phoebe Alexandra Bourke Love is a fickle thing even more so when built on false hope. I must say that I have never been more of a victim of this 'false hope' when suffering from a 'talent crush'. It may sound fun; it may sound like a pleasurable experience but let me tell you my friends it is very much on the contrary. Imagine you meet someone, they reveal to you the inner depths of their character and you react with rapport. As time goes on you begin to feel like you really know them, you can relate to them on many levels as if you have known each other for years, you can imagine every
"...you realise that YOU ARE WATCHING A PLAY and you choke at the concept..." moment thereafter shared together and then... BOOM! Your surrounding congregation's hands slam together in vigorous applause and without thought you follow suit, reality has slyly crept up behind you and grabbed you by the throat... you realise that YOU ARE WATCHING A PLAY and you choke at the concept. This suitor of which you have been focussing on probably for around 90 minutes who you have been basing your hopes and dreams on does not exist. He is a character constructed by playwright, moulded by actor and staged by director. And it is not until that first clap that you come to terms with these harsh truths. One can continue the fantasy that the character which one has fallen
for exists outside the edges of the stage living on through the medium of the actor however this ethos can only survive if one NEVER meets the actor. As to come across ones love stumbling out of a bar desperate for the nearest kebab vendor would murder the fantasy with a clean cut from ear to ear. Sometimes it's not even the character but the skill of the performer, the delivery of the lines and the presence on stage that can have one seduced but just as much the character can be lost off stage so to can these attributes leaving a timid carcass of a man. It is such a grave shame but maybe one day I will fall in love with a character performed by a rigid actor who can only play himself. Wish me good luck!
A Kane-esque Death
To be viewed in conjunction with Matt Judge's article from pages earlier
REVIEWS PHAEDRA'S LOVE
The House of Fun and the Lion's Den by Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart Having only previously seen Kane's 4.48 Psychosis, enacted by 4 girls shouting angry poetry whilst flailing themselves across the stage DV8 stylie, you can imagine my surprise when entering the New Hall auditorium to find a full blown band, sax's riffing and sequined diva blasting out a funked up rendition of Tragedy, whilst the stinking rogue Hippolytus, sitting amongst his own faeces, burger in hand, wanks off in time to the thumping Bee Gees cover. Both funny and poignant, Ashley Scott Layton seamlessly sets us up for an hour and twenty minutes of high-class theatre.
kicked in the gut with Layton's absurdist vision of Kane's unrelenting tragicomedy, and the actors are seemingly faultless in their mature and riveting portrayal of the inbred monarchy, with particular praise due to Shaw, Phillips and Lazarus for brave performances beyond their years.
We are seduced to chuckles then
Unfortunately, nothing is flawless,
The music of Phaedra's Love was perhaps the icing on the inventively staged cake, with carefully selected chocolate chips in the form of jukebox classics, David Bowie interjects as a woman is raped by her bereaved stepfather, amidst a mob of leopard print leggings and unruly yobs.
and Ravenrock's fall, or dip, if you will, arrives in the form of corrugated cardboard. Understandably this can be an interesting theatrical device, but it just seemed so out of place. The cardboard clock, bible, trees, even the clouds were...from a different play somehow, and added little to what was already a rounded piece. Ravenrock's production of Phaedra's Love had me playing the audience member we all want to play. A very small proportion of my bum was actually on the seat for the entirety of the play, as I found myself, quite literally, sucked into Hippolytus' world of raucous incest and twisted love. To put it simply, it was exciting.
Phaedra's Sexual Decadence by Euan Forsyth
When walking into the auditorium, I was greeted with the sound of a wonderful live band and the raucous sound of A large cast on stage. As a huge fan of live music I was overjoyed to arrive in the space and see a ban and also a very competent cast already there. I very much enjoyed this piece and all aspects of it but I do take issue with the plants in the audience. I was sitting next to the pregnant one and couldn't see the point in them. They had specifically reserved seats and were quite obviously plants, but they added nothing to the piece. I was waiting and waiting for them to leap into action and engage me but alas this didn't happen. I was
occupied in conversation a couple of times but when the main show began I was left well alone which was both enjoyable and annoying. Enjoyable in the way that I was able to take pleasure in the performance and not be distracted but annoying in the way that for the first 20 minutes I was eagerly awaiting their introduction which never came. Having said that, I enjoyed this piece immensely. All aspects of the production were extraordinary with all the sound being provided by a live band. Their best moment came when Hippolytus turned to the audience, the soundscape being provided by the guitarist, using the feedback of the instrument.
The lighting was very well designed and the staging was both clever and thought provoking. The modern soundtrack updated the piece and although this contrasted with the names and general ideas exhibited it became a very important part of the play. The acting was very solid and I must make special mention of the character of Phaedra as her portrayal was so grounded and well thought out. She oozed competence and sexual decadence very comfortably which made her act memorable and one of note in this overall exceptional play.
REVIEWS PHAEDRA'S LOVE
What a Hipp Mother-F*cker Title says Richard T. 'Dawg' Watson The state of British society is appalling. There are arrogant, ignorant chavs at the bottom and, repulsive depraved aristocrats at the top - and we'll all be better off without them. This is a problem exposed in Sarah Kane's Phaedra's Love, where it is picked at like an angry scab. At the heart is the spoilt brat of a prince, Hippolytus. You may have seen messier living rooms in student houses (I have), but you've probably not met someone quite so unpleasantly repellent as this slob. Yet women - and men still want him! What is attractive about him? Sure, he's not physically unattractive, but it's hard to see anything likeable. Rupert Lazarus gives the arrogant sneer and charisma needed for such a wastrel with an assured charm - damn him. His Hippolytus is almost a sympathetic character, and it's that which makes the play hang together.
Askill's Priest - is yet another institution that lets down those most in need of it. Kane shows both medical science and religion to be a disgrace and a let-down. Racheal Shaw's giggly Phaedra burns on a pyre along with any shred of decency in the world, and the firestorm caused is only the beginning of the end. While Edmund Jones' Theseus tears himself apart in grief, the world goes to Hell and will never come back. But that gang of chavs at the doors when the audience enters prove that the world is already in a dire state. These floatsam place themselves inside the audience before they pour their filthy
presences onto the stage and form the mob at the climax. Their rage at so public a criminal is palpable and has been in some form for much of the play. While the mob is undeniably necessary, it might not need to be chavs nor do they need to come amongst the audience. They personify the play's rage with unnerving power in the final moments, so much so that I was willing them to their unspeakable acts of violence. So well done to them, the horrible little scumbags. Doesn't it just make you mad?
What of that play? Phaedra's Love is based on a Greek Tragedy which takes Hippolytus as its main character, but in Kane's hands it becomes a brutal attack firstly on medical science and then on religion. The shrinks are as flawed as their patients, incapable of giving any help beyond saying that Hippolytus needs to lose weight. Not helpful in the slightest. And as for religion! Kane's Hippolytus is a violently, self-righteously Atheist in a world that seems utterly devoid of any divinity. The Catholic Church - seen in Jamie
REVIEWS PHAEDRA'S LOVE
Can't Buy Me Love, Sarah protests Henry Ellis
Every so often you see a production that blows you away with the acting, directing, and set design. In all three of these areas Phaedra's Love excels. The acting was near faultless, my only criticism being an occasional lapse in accents. The directing was superb, Ashley Scott Layton creating some truly sensational moments, most prominent in my mind being the soft opening, in which the audience were immediately invited to judge the characters without having heard their voices and characteristics. Combined with the live band, this opening provided a powerful dramatic opening and set the stage well for the remainder of the play. The set design was once again excellent, combining both the simplistic (a sofa in the middle of the stage), with the inspired (clouds moving across the stage with rain falling out of them). In every element of production, I struggle to find fault with this play. However, this play has one major downfall in my mind. Today, I have discovered that I despise Sarah Kane. Admittedly, I have only seen two of her works, 4:48 Psychosis, and Phaedra's Love, both at NSDF, but in both I have struggled to engage with the plot, and, particularly with Phaedra's Love, genuinely disliked the script. It all seemed too simplistic, a cacophony of blowjobs, death and betrayal, but without the human touch which should underpin great writing. I couldn't empathise with any of the characters, it was as if all the human elements which would allow me to connect
with them, had been played out at points before the timeline of the play, with the audience only allowed access to what was considered the most (pardon the cliché) "dramatic," moments. This was a constant nagging feeling throughout the performance, and for the most part ruined my experience of the otherwise excellent production values of the performance. Despite all its positive aspects, I could not get past my issue with Sarah Kane. I do wish to emphasise, I have no issue with the overall production, just the script that they performed. Admittedly this is an odd criticism of a piece of theatre, however it was so significant in my mind that it severely affected the play in my eyes. I cannot fault the company, but as an individual I cannot recommend it.
Today, I have discovered that I despise Sarah Kane
Phaedra's Love: a TA (Technical Advisor) Writes...
by Mark 'MJ' Jenkins I regret I haven’t seen a show as a member of audience yet. The last few days I have dwelt in the dank New Hall, where Phaedra’s Love opened today. The New Hall belongs to Scarborough College and is their multipurpose gym, assembly hall and theatre. Our tech crew have transformed it into a large black box studio – so what did building that venue entail? Lots of heavy metalwork has to be hung in the air – this requires some serious mathematics to prevent what is above your head doing anything other than staying securely in the air. From this metalwork we hang lighting, sound and black drapes to create our own customised venue. Each show in a venue has its own lighting rig – 4 Bar And Rising lighting came down and Phaedra’s Love lighting went up in its place. Each lantern has to be hauled into the air and rigged – hung securely and powered. Our crew then return to these lanterns to focus them in the right place on the stage. Once focused, lighting is plotted into the lighting console (a computer dedicated to lighting control) and then lighting is run in rehearsal “cue to cue” although we very rarely have time for proper Dress Rehearsals as
REVIEW PHAEDRA'S LOVE you might know them. Sound does the same but with microphones, speakers and their own dedicated console. This circus repeats itself every day in multiple venues across Scarborough, and although rewarding, it is heavy, dirty, sweaty work and not glamorous in the least. I have an opinion of Phaedra’s Love but my critical faculties are compromised by having seen it in rehearsal, in tech and in photo call – and concentrating on fulfilling technical needs rather than watching a show objectively. I also have some influence on how the show looked despite not being its lighting designer (LD) unfortunately their LD was unable to attend so lighting was created from very brief, time pressured discussions with the director who had a large and sometimes unwieldy show to control. Fortunately, the show is “mature” – it has been around since September 2009 so the ideas, concepts and the look was clear in the director’s head – this makes conversations so much easier when under pressure and
quick decisions have to be made. The show went up at 14.31 Monday, having been in the New Hall from 08.00 Monday and from 20.00 Sunday evening. Their reasonably large lighting rig and live sound with vocals meant the crew were going flat out with only a few hours to the techie equivalent of NOFF’s 'copy deadline' - 'house opening'. The massive cast and band were disciplined by their impressive young director, who seems to be respected by his company who could so easily reduce a tech rehearsal to chaos by failing to respect the seriousness of the deadlines we have to work to within the Festival. Luckily they weren’t, and without descending into luvviness, were great about shutting up and getting on with it and appreciated that sometimes, in tech rehearsal, the only people who can converse are the relevant crew and the director. Understand, my dear festival goer, that when a show happens to go up 15 minutes late, we poor TA’s frantically compile a report to Holly Kendrick to explain why we have screwed up the Festival’s
watertight scheduling and then report for the 'hair dryer' treatment from the fearsome HK. Still, we opened to the public having barely got to the end of the show in rehearsal – despite the first show being a bit of a “public dress” from the POV of the crew, it blitzed along with the band vamping along in places and we got to the end in one piece and hopefully with the audience on side. Was it good entertainment? Yes. Was it “definitive, amazing, life affirming”? Well, a) I dislike hyperbole and b) I haven’t had enough sleep to be able to comment in an intelligent way. That said, I think this show will be a highlight of another unique Festival and has a future beyond Scarborough should the company wish it. My personal thanks go to Colin, Jude and the NSDF technical crew for their hard work in the New Hall over the last few days. And if you see a techie, perhaps looking a bit out of place among the festival goers, engage them in conversation and ask “What did you do today?” – as humble crew they may have had more of an impact on a show than you realise and they may have done up the bolts over your head (you hope).
REVIEWS TELL TALE
William Tell Tales Will Bourdillon Had Fun Tell-Tale rejoices in the art of storytelling, and the way that stories can (and should?) be patched together from elements of other stories, and indeed from the world around us. This is immediately mirrored through the set, which comprises a hodgepodge of seemingly random items. A plant pot, some books, oranges. They don't fit, but it some becomes apparent they are not supposed to. What is shown is a world of possibilities, of contrasting and disparate influences, from which anything you want can be created. Throughout, the characters take them up and put them to any use that fits their tales: a watering can becomes a film camera; a rucksack is transformed into a turtle's shell. The seven characters who lead us through this sequence of stories
have the excitement and unpredictability of children. The whole piece, in fact, is immensely child-like. There is a conscious rejection of conventions in terms of narrative style and approach. We switch quickly between tales, in the way a child might drop an idea that has begun to bore them, to move onto something more immediately appealing. They also disregard the fourth wall, willingly engaging with their audience, encouraging involvement within the storytelling process. This is best seen in the use of blindfolds, where they manage to maintain a narrative after the removal of any visual elements, in fact revelling in this removal. Happily, this childlike approach rarely slips into the realm of being childish. The
characters and their actions are exciting rather than annoying. It is a piece unafraid to switch between different performance techniques, including music, shadow projection and inviting all audience members into the performance space to hold up a large parachute. These switches are all expertly executed under the cast's energetic guidance. These elements all go towards creating an exciting, ever-evolving experience which is unashamed of it's desire to have and inspire *fun*.
Tell Her About It Charlie Kenbar Was Driven MAD... With fun!
"Whether they blindfolded us or fed us on biscuits and Ribena they didn't fail to surprise and impress us" 17
REVIEWS TELL TALE
Tell Me Why!
Jonathan Brittain Did Not Have As Much Fun Absurd costumes, choral singing, free squash, blindfolds and a veritable playground of a set are all components of Tell Tales. So too are singing, gymnastics, shadow puppets, stones and paper butterflies. Also fables, improvisation, a rendition of happy birthday, trips to the corners of the auditorium... There are a lot of components to Tell Tales; all joyfully performed, wilfully disconnected and with little transition between. The play is a shape shifter whose main preoccupation is not logic or narrative, but fun. The characters are telling stories to each other, but they also take time out to include the audience in proceedings. The interaction however is not used to make the stories any clearer and in fact
often interrupts or overrides them. When not including the audience the players become absorbed with each other and little regard is paid to whether their tales are being followed or indeed that they are at all comprehendible. The copy of the show in the festival guide invites the audience to find a story in their own journey through the piece. My personal journey begins with confusion, flirts with engagement, returning to confusion, moves on to the realisation that the confusion will not end, and culminates in boredom and eventual frustration and anger. The whole piece begins to feel like an exclusive game, the rules of which are unknown and appear to change moment to
moment. Although it looks like a lot of fun, it is not a game that the audience is invited to join in with. The play is anarchistic, and this is exactly what it appears to want to be, but the anarchy exists in a vacuum with nothing to contrast it with. The audience was expected to start in this state rather than being invited to journey there, those who did not were left behind. Tell Tales is chaotic, confusing and unrepentant, to criticise them on these grounds would be redundant, in their eyes these are assets, assets that obviously worked for many audience members but assets which alienate as many as they excite.
Fun Completely Eluded Ben Curthoys Imagine you have to look after a room full of hyperactive five year old who've had too much jelly and icecream and E numbers and caffeinated fizzy pop. So, obviously, you've locked them in the attic, where you keep the trunks full of old clothes and odd bits of cloth dusty books and paint and watering cans and sticks and butterflies and it doesn't matter if they draw on the walls or if they're sick. At least they can't get out. You can hear them up there, but you can't see them. And the random disjoined babble of their shrieks and chases and games of
make believe make it impossible for you to concentrate on anything else, and besides, it sounds like fun, so at five o'clock you climb the ladder and join in. At first it's as free and spontaneously creative as play can be, but in passing you rescue one of the books they're playing with and sit them down to read them some /Just So/ stories. And, best beloved, they like it and they mostly listen, but they don't quite sit still, and they keep on jumping up and slipping in and out of the characters of the story as you tell it and putting on silly accents and sillier costumes and then
dropping back to themselves to bicker. But that's all part of the joy of it. And the first story was ok, so after a short break to play 'Tents' and some ribena and biscuits, you read them another one and half of them decide that they're the film crew filming with a watering can the nature documentary game the others are playing, and then it's time for bed. Well, that's not what it was about, but it's what it was like to be there.
REVIEWS TELL TALE
Liv Silver Thinks Its Never Too Late to Have a Happy Ending This piece will produce feelings of love or hate. My personal opinion today is love. The cast of intricately different cast members seemingly thrust together created a piece with a strong ensemble feel to it. I found the illusion to Kipling's "Just So Stories" present but not overpowering, this gave the piece an understated narrative that gently encouraged the audience to accept the childish creativity adopted by the actors. I particularly enjoyed the dream like quality I found myself lulled into, rather than having a strong political or moral message forced down my throat; as unfortunately most theatre seems to deem a necessity. The human fear of seeming immature of childish was unleashed to its fullest potential. The concept was strong and whilst there was definitely room for improvement; for example the
intent and purpose of brining every single audience member onto the stage. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed being under a giant bed-sheet and being sailed around on an imaginary boat these elements seemed contrived and slowed the pace of the show down. I feel the provision of biscuits and juice, whilst nice touches, was unnecessary and once again slowed pace. The piece conveyed messages of trust both between the characters and with the audience. The expectations of growing up that people fall into seemingly without question was held out under an unforgiving light for the audience to inspect clearly for probably the first time. The stage added to the self realisation encouraged by the actors. The set was beautiful in the chaos it encouraged, the contrast between the chaotic set and peaceful mentality of the actors was well developed and aided the audience in helping the
actors to lower the fourth wall. Whilst this review seems full of
"I could easily watch it again." praise there was clear areas that were not needed. For example Abi Spear's seemingly random and misplaced splits and cartwheel; the singing and dace elements gave the piece the physicality it needed and I feel the added gymnastics seemed unrealistic. The singing was effective in insuring the story moved forward and did not fall into the realms of the ridiculous. In conclusion I really enjoyed the piece. I could easily watch it again. The concept and generation of ideas was clearly laboured over and I conclude it was a labour of love that the audience can appreciate fully.
Gabriella Peeter's Review Bears No Relation to its Title But Look at the Lovely Picture The play itself was cleverly Clothes'. I do resent any work of devised. The acting and music art that insists on making me feel were admirable. However, (and it unintelligent, purely for the fact is a rather large "however") one that I do not see the 'outfit' in couldn't help the feeling that question. The work was visually upon leaving the auditiorium, the interesting, howvever, in short it message of the play was was long, and the potential was undelivered. Was this because there was no message to be "I do resent any work of art delivered? When I left the play that insists on making me feel the ony phrase that left my lips unintelligent" was 'The Emporers' New
REVIEWS TELL TALE
Tell Me About It
Dan Hutton Can't Wait to be a Kid... Again The set awaiting us as we trundle in is one which is fairly sparse and has echoes of a room in the middle of a re-dec. Within minutes, however, chaos ensues as props are strewn across the stage and we are introduced with no hesitation to our storytellers. These are our guides, who will tell us how the kangaroo became an athlete, how the first armadillos were created and how a butterfly was saved from humiliation. The ensemble takes pride in regressing themselves and the audience to more innocent, happier times.
beneath our seats, and it is this sense of wonder at finding something new which drives the piece through. Towards the end of the piece it is noted "The unknown... demands our attention. We have to give it what it wants," showing that exploration in every sense of the word is necessary in order to keep learning.
sandwich spread, has divided popular opinion as to its merit I wonder if this is more an issue of attitude than anything else. A year or so ago I wrote an article criticising the lack of genuine plots and developed characters in the NSDF shows. Modern theatre, and especially student/devised theatre, often sacrifices plot and character for concept and it is this reason that leads me to be wary of it. Any play that is written by a member of the cast automatically has a substantial question mark over it in my mind, but hey that's just my prejudice. For the first twenty minutes of Tell Tale my predictions were fulfilled.
The use of music in the play is also highly effective, summoning up memories of watching 'The Lion King' on a rainy afternoon. Sound is also important as we are It was essentially a group of adults The cast from Hull University told to cover our eyes and simply playing children (though I am still clearly enjoy playing in the childlisten to the play, which focuses not sure that they were not meant like sense of the word. A sense of attention on the vocabulary used. to be adults but with the brains of exploration and excitement is children!) pratting about with some created throughout by their It is the sense of fun and children props. Having resigned myself to continued interaction with the at play in 'Tell Tale' which makes disliking the piece it suddenly audience. Children don't mind it so enjoyable. To finish, I'll leave struck me that I still had over an how stupid they look to you with this quote from the play; hour of the show left to endure. It onlookers, they let their "You know, I think I'll be a was at this point that I made a imagination run with them. This is presenter. Acting is for those of a conscious decision that I was going represented in the ingenious use simpler disposition". Perhaps we to forget all my pretentions about of props. A watering can used as a all need to loosen up and look at 'the theatre' and just try and enjoy camera and brushes as spines are that which is important; the art of the show. And that is exactly what I surely ideas which can only be telling a story. did. While I admit it was probably dreamt up by children? around twenty minutes too long I thoroughly enjoyed it for what it But they're not, and that's where was - a bunch of adults pratting the beauty of 'Tell Tale' lies. Here around for an hour and a half! we have a group of university Marmite or Morris Having discarded the cynical students simply having fun, and attitude that I know Mr Forsyth to Dancing we can't help but be dragged have, there was nothing to prevent along with them. When we are me from having quite a good time. In yesterday's fantastic edition of pulled down from our seats we are Noises Off a Mr. Euan Forsyth able to take a variety of paths to It struck me then that perhaps Esq. described Tell Tale as being different narrators, thus finding like Marmite in that you either love Marmite is not the best thing to our own story inside the compare it to but rather Morris it or you hate it. I hasten to overarching narrative. Dancing! Morris Dancing is often disagree with this assessment. Whist it is most certainly true that poupou-ed by people (though not Throughout the piece, various as many as one might think!) and is the piece, much like the named objects continue to appear
Tell it to the Hand
REVIEWS TELL TALE ultimately a bunch of grown men larking about with sticks, bells and hankies. Remind you of anything? Morris dancing is what you make it. You can dismiss it as frivolous (and even slightly embarrassing for an audience member with no care for national traditions) or you can throw all you expectations and cares to the wind and just have a really good time!
Lani Isaacs Takes Us Through the A-Z of Tell Tale
patronising, predictable Q - quasi-mesmeric , quirky/ queer R - rambunctious / random, raw S - scenic, spectacular / spontaneous T - tremendous / transient, troubled, topsy-turvy U - utopian / unsettling, uncomfortable, unjustified V - varied, visual, vivacious / vague W - wonderful / weird, whimsical X - eXtraordinary / eXtrovert [who knew NO words begin with X] Y - yummy (squash and biscuits) / yuk! Z - zealous, zoomorphic / zzzzzzzzzz
'Let's start at the very beginning, a The play left a superb lasting very good place to start' so says the Sound of Music and one of the stories in 'Tell Tale', so on that note, describing it from the top, attempting to capture the variety of emotions experienced during the show, led me to... A - atmospheric / awkward, annoying, ambiguous B - brilliant / bizarre, blindfolded C - creative / childlike, confusing D - 'de Turtle song' / disconcerting E - enthusiastic, engaging, energetic/ extreme, extrovert F - fantastic / fragmented, farcical G - glorious / ghastly, garish H - humorous / hodgepodge I - imaginative, ingenious, inventive / interactive, isolating J - jovial, jocular, Jamaican /junk K - kick-ass, kangaroo/ kooky L - lucid, loopy, lively / laughable, laborious M - musical, magical, mystical / muddling N - novel / nonsensical, naive O - opportunistic / odd, overzealous P - perplexing / peculiar,
impression on me initially, and I commend the commitment and enthusiasm that each actor brought to the piece, but thinking on it further and discussing with others forced me to almost reconsider my decision. The concept was a beautiful one, but the execution and delivery left a little to be desired on many occasions. So despite no longer firmly agreeing with all the intrinsically positively complimentary gushing statements above, the mixture of opinions surely experienced by each and every one of the audience members was a disorderly journey, sadly perhaps better plotted than the play itself.
REVIEWS WHITEHOUSE INSTITUTE
A Day At The Gallery
Ben Lander protests against the protestors The Whitehouse Institute from the University of Manchester is certainly an ambitious piece. As the audience are beckoned into the Holbeck-turned-Modern-ArtGallery, the cast carry off their performances as gracious hosts and hostesses with the utmost professionalism and talent. We are then left to wander this gallery and see the works on display. The works themselves suffer from failure to hold interest, reeking as they do of A-Level Art pieces. The descriptions, titles and tags attached to the pieces however, are both witty and entertaining. In addition to this, the fact that they are so small, and many of them hidden, lends the reader a sense of self-satisfaction for discovering them and making the effort to read them. Little touches like the miniature gravestone with "Your name here" painted on it are there for the intrepid theatre-goer to find, and while in no way necessary to the plot, act in such a way as to provide enjoyment to those members of the audience who do persevere and find it. Once the performance itself begins, Joe Von Malachowski's performance of Neil was both entertaining and embarrassing to watch, in a good way. He captured the stuttering nervous gallery curator perfectly, and tied the piece together fantastically, especially for me personally as I was part of his "tour group". However, when the element of the protests, already heavily hyped in publicity stunts, was introduced, I felt that the piece became predictable. As soon as the first
protester ran across the stage, I realised that we would never see the elusive ****, and deduced what would turn out to be a fairly accurate summary of the plot. While I tried hard to maintain an interest in the piece from this point on, I felt that some of the characterisation did not do the intentions of the piece justice ClichĂŠ was rampant throughout the piece, from the stuttering curator to the moody and petulant Tracey Hutcheson. I don't take issue with this clichĂŠ, but when the piece is trying to draw the audience into a naturalistic piece,Lucy Bishop gets arty some of the clichĂŠs become an annoying jolt out of the otherwise Entering the show, we were greeted impeccable atmosphere. by clearly anxious and excited organizers of the Whitehouse 'The cast carry off their Institution. Unfortunately the maps, performances as gracious tickets and tokens we were given hosts and hostesses with looked less than professional making me unenthused and leading the utmost me to believe the production would professionalism and be of a similar standard. Luckily talent.' this wasn't the case.
To conclude as I began, I felt that The production was interesting and the piece was ambitious, and in witty. The actors handled the many ways succeeded. However, spontaneity of the piece with ease as a piece of theatre, I felt it and relished in audience response. needed more rehearsal in the The characters never slipped and space, a fault which is almost Niel (the curator) was particularly unavoidable at NSDF, so I can exceptional. The exhibits and appreciate this is probably not the descriptions were incredibly company's fault. I would finish by detailed, making the piece even saying that the piece almost more polished. Criticisms, I do suffered by being a piece of have of the piece is that the theatre with well defined protestors could have answered the boundaries between audience and journalists' questions with more actors, and that the thought of passion even if their answers were the same script played as a piece talking nonsense and further of invisible theatre in a destruction of the set would have consenting art gallery to an been more dramatic but overall unsuspecting public gives me very enjoyable. shivers at how good it could be.
REVIEWS WHITEHOUSE INSTITUTE
Who Said Anything About Tracey Emin?
Anna Himali Howard comes to terms with her own snobbery... Such absurd phrases as "simultaneously post-feminist and pre-femininity" (a personal favourite of mine) were rife in the satirical world of The Whitehouse Institute. A society built up of meaningless words, desperately striving through the medium of bullshit and Coldplay to bring meaning to something which has none; a society which for no apparent reason celebrates and elevates the rich, bohemian, pouting, eyeliner-smeared, sulky and enigmatic teenage girl. It doesn't seem all that alien. It successfully makes fools of everyone who, in another situation, would take the art, canapĂŠs and all, completely seriously - one of those fools being me. Ironically, the piece itself layer upon layer of meaning. reader of a fiction novel confirm their security in
has The can the
writer's vision when there is a hand-drawn map of the imaginary world inside the front cover. In a similar way the protests and rumoured controversy leading up to the performance gives the audience confidence in the believability of The Whitehouse Institute. They become wined, dined and lulled
Desperately striving through the medium of bullshit and Coldplay into being a part of the fragile community at the gallery opening, making them all the more tense and genuinely anxious when a threat begins to appear on the horizon. They are unwittingly drawn into a game of "us versus them", a sense of instability increasing palpably throughout but without seeming the least bit contrived.
A turning point was being party to a personal revelation from Felicity Inwood, revealing that she was set to be more of a rebel than the controversial artists and foul-mouthed protesters combined in a delicate and hilarious monologue, throughout which the facade of her personality slipped and endeared her to the audience. The revealing of the elephant in the gallery, Tracey Emin - sorry Hutcheson's spectacular new work, sparks a fun and unpredictable descent into relative anarchy which crosses the borderline between feeling distanced and amused and feeling scared (but not admitting it). An increasingly dishevelled and finely characterised curator leads us ineptly on this hilarious journey in an understated satire which does not need to overtly poke fun - it satires simply through being.
A House Of Two Levels
Tom Gill appreciates being stimulated... Whitehouse Institute is a really strong piece of theatre. Enjoyable, engaging, and well constructed. The cast should be proud. Promenade theatre is a difficult style to perfect. However Joe von Malachowski and his fellow players have struck the balance just right. The audience's wandering through the space is punctuated by well observed satirical diatribes on the cult of celebrity that has permeated the Art world since the noughties.
The one serious criticism, however, that can be levelled at this production is that it makes its case too strongly, and arguably does not say anything truly original. We all know the vacuous nature of a celebrity dominated culture. Perhaps the piece would have been improved by saying less, and therefore saying more. All in all this is an uproarious and entertaining production that uses the space effortlessly and stimulates the audience.
REVIEWS WHITEHOUSE INSTITUTE
Niamh Conway wants to see a line drawn An art gallery with a difference: being taken on an unconventional journey through the controversial world of modern art. After enjoying canapes and wine served in the bar and escorted into the gallery, the audience were handed either invitations to a seminar, a photograph, or a map which involved them into the show from the starting line. Now free to browse several pieces of fearless art containing aspects of death and sex, the performance gradually developed naturally allowing each and every audience member to have their own emotional experience in the
separate activities that will not be forgotten easily. One exhibit that was particularly disturbing was the nail through crab piece that linked to controversial work of animal cruelty for no apparent purpose. After being hooked into a false sense of security through the calm, professional and certainly comical moments created by the realistic characterisation and the relaxing mood music the show became a storm of strong opinions and disagreements. Tense anticipation is built up slowly during the start of the show for the revelation of Tracy
Hutchenson's newest 'star' piece causing a stir throughout the crowd when this small gathering materialises into anarchy and panic. The Whitehouse Institute is a show that explores the contrast between the attitudes towards modern art and where the line really should be drawn. The way the piece targets modern artists and their sense of 'creativity' is a particularly clever thought that is tampered with throughout the show. This is without a doubt one of the best shows performed at NSDF so far this week.
REVIEWS WHITEHOUSE INSTITUTE
Geroge Chilcott attends an unveiling Whitehouse Institute, a promenade piece that leads its audience around Tracey Hutchinsons' latest and most controversial art exhibition, is an innovative, laughout-loud and effective piece of theatre. This talented Manchester troupe brings us a bleak, postmodern show that satirises world of modern art with its use of realism, 'talking-head' sound bites and the sort of cringe-comedy that has become popular ever since TV's The Office. Having been served aperitifs in the bar, the audience is led to the gallery by the sycophantic, Neil Bailey-Jones, curator of the newlyopened White House. The laughably pretentious exhibition-
including a manikin with a computer monitor for a head (said to represent the dehumanized condition of modern man) and an Emin-esque, littered study (well she is called Tracey Hutchinson, after all)successfully parodies today's Saatchi-led obsession with modern art. Throughout, the viewing is interrupted by Neil as he desperately tries to talk over the cries of riotous protestors outside, before eventually introducing Tracey Hutchison, present for the unveiling of her artwork. The entire cast excels in their difficult, improvisation-based roles, but special mention must
go to Joe Von Malachowski for his rib-ticklingly well-observed portrayal of the museum's smarmy curator. In addition, Zoe Robinson excels as Tracey (particularly on the screen) as one cannot help snorting loudly at the straight-faced analysis of her own, 'post-colonial' work. Overall, the play succeeds in its comedic exploration of the difficulties with modern art. And, without wanting to reveal the plot's final twists, I found this play a surprising and amusing piece; brought to us by a talented cast, brimming with naked ambition.
Dan Hutton investigates the true nature of bullshit
REVIEWS 4 BAR AND RISING
Four Isobars Richard T. Watson
The poor common man at the centre of is under a lot of pressure: mounting paperwork and networks of dependency have reduced him to a human pinball. The boiler in my house rarely gets up to one bar, and that heats the house fine these days it's too much, so I dread to think what four bars must be like. This man's plight, as he is pinged around the stage while trying to shrug off the burdens of his world, is one that taps into the essence of modern life. It speaks to each of us living
gains, like a wage or food. Most explicitly, a final, unidentified piece of paper is dangled in front of him and placed just out of his reach. As he strains against the elasticated rope holding him back, struggling to keep hold of the other papers (ie. his entire life, in this society's value-structure), desperate to reach the piece of paper (clearly representing the wages/benefits for the generic proletariat) denied to him, the tension builds and the anticapitalist allegory becomes very clear. Then the tension snaps and of course the working man has been denied his rights. His final act is a liberation not only of mind and body but of the individual from the strictures of a capitalist society that categorises and codifies its citizens amid swathes of bureaucracy.
Controversial BBC weather. In other news, SNOW IS COMING.
in a society with dress codes and a reliance on exam results as a means of determining worth. speaks most strongly against the society it finds itself in when Adrian Spring finds himself forced to bear a wad of important papers, which between them determine and rigidly classify his life. His birth certificate, exam results, CV, marriage and divorce certificates and all that tiresome bureaucracy that has turned him into the dazed, confused and pressured individual he is. They are all things expressing an obligation on his part (even that of registering his birth), yet not one demonstrates any benefit he
Alternatively, it may be about something entirely different. To be honest, I really wanted 4 Bar and Rising to be about weather reports. I hoped for some Met Office experts to be pointing to colourful maps of the UK as isobars swept across the Pennines and deposited buckets of rain over Scarborough. Ideally, there would be four isobars, although I don't think that means very much pressure - I'm not a weather forecaster. There was a man who struggles to cross roads because he worries that some other people will throw sheets of paper at him. They might also tie an elastic rope to him and ping him about like a human pinball. It becomes a live essay on the dangers of bullying.
But don't worry; there's a nice ending. Our dazed, confused and abused young man remembers a Christmas or birthday, when his dad gave him a skateboard (represented here by a long metal bar). It's a touching tribute to the power of interpersonal relationships, especially within families. Actually, neither of those really works and everything I've thought about has been at best incomplete and at worst flawed. It's the sort of piece that ought to be played about with in an audience's collective imagination for long after the applause dies down. There are a myriad ways of looking at it. Each member of the cast has a clear idea of what their piece means, and appear to want each audience member to feel that too: an individual interpretation that doesn't depend on any prescribed meaning from elsewhere. So, for
I don't think that means very much pressure - I'm not a weather forecaster those of you that had a meaning worked out, however incomplete, that's great. Don't worry about it matching up with any other view, least of all that held by the cast. For the rest of us, raises questions about how important it is that we pin down the exact meaning of a performance. In the end, almost any interpretation is equally as valid as another: so said cast member Sam Powell in yesterday's discussion.
REVIEWS 4 BAR AND RISING
Slow and Sure Olivia Ivens
4 Bar and Rising featured a cast with impressive commitment and focus. The main and only character, with his likeable teddy bear face, especially commanded attention. Those sitting in the front row nervously anticipated the powerful ping of elastic material whilst at the back the view of the stark stage was transfixing. Short physical motifs and patterns were thoughtfully conducted and the considerate use of props avoided creating clutter. The quietness was brave and
allowed nothing but the North Sea wind battering the roof to reign until delicately disturbed by evocative sounds that buzzed softly from the actors' mouths. These hushed serenades to traffic were perhaps not as carefully crafted or strong in style as their physicalities, but were nonetheless pleasing to the ear. The narrative driven sequences could almost be thought of as surplus, for the concepts explored were communicated strongly without words and were able to resonate with the audience in a multitude of ways, if they were willing. When the bar was raised and the floating man began his descent, the human desire to fly through the air was poetically realised. Ultimately and satisfyingly the applause rang loud and the neuron's began firing, teasing out meaning both grand and personal.
The quietness was brave and allowed nothing but the North Sea wind battering the roof to reign until delicately disturbed by evocative sounds that buzzed softly from the actor's mouths.
We lack this in the NOFFice
An Open Discussion of the Discussion
Confusing the matter, Jonathan Brittain There was much discussion of the high level of trust between the performers. I completely agree, but personally I felt the most admirable quality of the show was the trust placed in us the spectators. Should you have a moment in the show when you aren't in control? You do, and not just one moment. How we read the piece is out of your control and our interpretations are our
own to create. That is, until you tell us through the programme what it means. Removing this will alienate some people, but those who do read the piece in their own way will be all the more grateful for the trust you place in them.
Should you have a moment in the show when you aren't in control? 27
REVIEWS OUR COUNTRY'S GOOD
For Our Country's Benefit... ... And Our Own, says Richard T. Watson
elevating the criminals or colonised peoples: Art, specifically drama, unsurprising in a dramatist, and particularly relevant to those of us here at NSDF intending to learn about drama. So there are links between the cast of the play-within-a-play of OCG and the audience of OCG; we are people expected to learn, mature and grow as individuals through the practice and application of drama as an artform and agent of culture.
What's the best way to deal with a person who steals a loaf of bread to feed their family? If you gave 'hanging' as an answer, you'd be right. Well, according to the legal system established within the British colony of New South Wales in Timberlake Wertenberger's Our Country's Good. It may seem a harsh penalty, but we're dealing with a colony of the British Empire peopled largely by convicts and their soldier guards, and the man enforcing the laws is a General. He's torn between setting a harsh example in defence of the British
laws made in a faraway land and his sympathy for the human suffering he sees in the people he governs. In fact, it's deeper than that; many of the play's debates aren't simply about capital punishment. They're about a much bigger debate that relates not only to the British colonists/convicts, but also to the native peoples whose voice has no expression in the text though they are physically present in this production's many interludes. The debate Wertenbaker returns to again and again is that between cultivating and civilising (thus
bettering) mankind or accepting that mankind will fail, make mistakes and never be corrected. It's a debate still relevant today, when stories about Jon Venables crop up: Should we be rehabilitating law-breakers or punishing them? Is it worth elevating such people (criminals, colonised peoples) knowing that their nature is not suited to the ideal of mainstream Europe, and their fall from it is almost inevitable? Naturally, there's no easy answer to those questions. Nor is there one that applies to all (not even most) cases, and Wertenbaker never pretends such an answer exists. Her play is rather more certain about the means of
Should we be rehabilitating lawbreakers or punishing them?
Wertenbaker's ending leaves her audience guessing. We've no idea how the play-within-a-play is received, after its painful and shaky rehearsals. In a way, it leaves the metaphorical ball very much in our court - we're the ones that must take the learning from drama and culture then run with it into the future, in a way that we don't get to see the fictional cast doing. It's our move.
GUIDELINES FOR MEASURES TO COPE
Keri Dearmer loved the tech This play is compiled of several stories from sufferers of Body Dysmorphic Disorder voiced by three actors using various different, sometimes ingenious, techniques. They begin the play in their underwear, highlighting the issue of selfconfidence within society and then clothe themselves on stage, dressing and undressing being a common feature of the disorder. While this dramatisation was helpful, the changing of whole outfits seemed redundant as it signified neither a change of character nor symptom, as far as one can tell. The stories were connected with the use of the wall at the back of the stage upon which the ideas, symptoms and issues were scribbled; however, this seemed
to be the only connecting feature of the stories which were not linked to one another in any way apart from the disease they suffer from. The wall was written on throughout the play as new issues were raised and the play's title was also transcribed above the door and spot-lit at the end as the audience left, serving as a reminder of the somewhat
"The use of tech was superb" deflating play they had just seen. The use of tech was superb with the employment of spotlighting on body parts rather than whole figures; this was also achieved through the use of torches on stage, giving it a sinister atmosphere relating to the demoralising nature of the disorder. Typing was projected onto a screen as a literary representation of one woman's
story which was then virtually tipex-ed to show how she had recovered; probably the only uplifting moment in the entire piece. This screen was also used to draw a stick figure over one of the actors to show her character's dissatisfaction with her physical appearance. With no storyline to speak of nor tangible characters, one does wonder what the point of this piece is; perhaps to raise awareness - certainly achieved, but an objective which seems to have taken precedence over theatricality. While the technical aspects were practically flawless (apart from a few jittery music changes) and innovative, it was, overall, a rather depressing experience which grew to be overly thought-provoking, though it was undeniably informative.
Coping Is Not Enough Ben Curthoys can cope In order to evaluate the effectiveness of this work, we need to establish what it was for: why was it devised, why was it performed? To entertain? Then it was a failure. The dramatisation of a power point slide show does not entertainment make. To educate? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bod y_dysmorphic_disorder. There. Job done, with far more accuracy and far less pratting about with pulling t-shirts over one's head to a thumping electro beat.
To inform? "Raising awareness" is a plausible excuse, but does not stand up to analysis. We can divide the world into four: Those who are not affected by the issues, and are unaware of
of them. Their awareness can't be raised. Those who are affected by the issues, and are already aware of them. Pray none of these people show up, because they're likely to be very offended by a crass and shallow portrayal of a difficult and painful symptom almost always rooted in a deeper psychological cause. and
them. They don't need to know and are unlikely to be interested. Those who are not affected by the issues, and are already aware
Those who are affected by the issues, but are not yet aware of them. Perhaps this is the (tiny) target audience? Certainly if the
REVIEWS GUIDELINES FOR MEASURES TO COPE play motivated someone to seek begin, and a life can be rebuilt. Itfacts, figures and details about help, or be more supportive or can end happily, not withwhy and how this condition sensitive to a friend or family perfection - the distorted quest formanifests itself. This is all member who was suffering, then it which describes the journey of sostylishly delivered and makes the would have done some good, right? many sufferers - but with progress,play a very effective educational A pleasant idea, but it doens't work one step at a time, one day at a time.tool, but for those who are that way. If you take an alcoholic in already familiar with BDD there denial to see is very little else. There is no , they aren't going to walk context to their suffering, out of the theatre and into rehab, characters come and go but all they're going to walk out of the that is revealed about them is that theatre and into a bar and they suffer from this condition. enumerate all the ways that the It's very difficult to judge a show characters are much, much worse when the issues have permeated than they are and they aren't nearly your own life so much, I'm a that bad yet. People create their recovering bulimic and although I own situations for bottoming out appreciate it is only one and seeking help and finding manifestation of BDD, I bring recovery; a play isn't going to speed baggage. This includes a that process up one iota. frustration at the frequent Or to pass an exam? Ah, now we're pornographisation of that getting somewhere. A nice chunky condition, I appreciate that the "issue", some mixed multimedia, trance music and smearing were some speech, some movement, a part of the style of the piece, but worthy cause to wrap yourself in to frankly the real horror comes defend yourself from criticism (You from the mundane nature of the didn't like the show? That meansJon Brittain wants routine 'incidents', something that you must not CARE, yousome more action "As an introduction to insensitive bastard). If it was BDD it's an extremely devised to pass an exam, then it It's probably an insensitive term to probably succeeded. use when discussing characters effective and stylish piece"
The show I wanted to see would suffering from Body Dysmorphic have talked about strength, hope Disorder but those in this piece and recovery, as well as pain of lacked dimension. The question iswas shown far more effectively by sufferers. It would have followed whether or not this a bad thing.the constant dressing and one person's journey: a real person, The audience is taken through aundressing. My major issue is that not a bundle of symptoms, with a whirl wind of impressive imagery,characters exist merely as a vessel and multimedia allfor their condition. life and loves and hopes and fears dance not defined solely by their problem. punctuated by vignettes featuringThis show is about snapshots; the various sufferers. It is visually andshadow world in which people That means you must not aurally stunning, set against asubmit to their neurosis. As an backdrop of what looks like aintroduction to BDD it's an CARE lonely alleyway, and constantlyextremely effective and stylish It would have shown the beginnings varying the devices at play. The playpiece, but by showing only the and the progression of the disease, is dominated by shadow and thecharacter's problems, they are and the losses, on the way to the impression is given that this is adehumanised and although we bottom. If the show is to be a view into the dark inner world of learn a lot about their conditions, tragedy, it can stop there, with a BDD sufferers. I was left wanting more. suicide; if not, then help can be The everyday world is almost sought, and found. Recovery can entirely absent, in its place there are
REVIEWS GUIDELINES FOR MEASURES TO COPE
Will Bourdillon gets some resounding notes BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) is genuinely a serious issue, with the social problems it presents, and the high suicide rate for sufferers. As well as this, it's a condition which surrounds feelings that should be alien to very few of us. Insecurity over your image is something many of us will have experienced. This all means that BDD is a very potent subject for theatre, with the ability to engage an audience with images and stories they can relate to themselves, before translating these themes onto the more extreme levels of BDD, allowing us a fuller understanding of the impact it can have. There is little doubt that this is the approach the creators of identified as an effective one. There are strong indications of such a direction being used throughout, but the piece never seems to follow through to a satisfying extent. A steady stream of accounts from characters suffering from BDD are delivered by the three performers, and at one point projected onto a screen, and it is through this that the intricacies of the condition are laid out. As individual accounts they are immediately compelling, striking resounding chords of commonly felt anxieties, before exposing the extreme levels these issues can reach in an often shocking way. Where
effectively deliver its message is through its misguided use of a very singular focus. The entirety of the play is told from the perspectives of sufferers, talking solely about their condition. An audience's 'entrance' into the piece is compromised by the absence of supporting characters they can relate to, which is ultimately an alienating factor. Such an exclusory presentation of the theme seems to discourage the audience from forming their own opinion of the matter. Any attempt to persuade the audience is discarded in favour of a lecturing approach. There is no debate in play within the piece. And apart from the danger of an audience losing interest through repetition of a single point, they can also revolt against the idea of the view presented being 'exhaustive'. handled its technical elements exceptionally, making for a visually arresting performance. The stripped down set and the careful use of lighting were both appropriate for the piece's take on the theme. However, this was not enough to rescue it from seeming like a creative version of a BDD support group meeting, which is undeniably an interesting concept, though not without any look into outside context.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE...HOUSE Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart is not scared of crows
actresses' costumes weren't similar enough- the illusion was broken and my belief not suspended. On film, perhaps more is possible with the horror genre, with the aid of special effects and editing. The intention was understandable, but the result was not perhaps intended.
I have a friend who likes to watch scary films. In the middle of the night. Alone. She turns all the lights off in the house, and then orders a pizza. The fun of this means that potentially at the height of pant wetting scariness, the doorbell will ring and she'll jump out of her skin. And why? Well, apparently for the same reason Robert Z Anderson and Lucy Arnold embarked upon exploiting, in their grim and chilling history of the haunted , where the tales of the dark and mysterious ooze through the cracks of its decaying bark. Those dark and mysterious tales, of devilish crows and mad childsnatching wives, are so much the crux of the play that the actors have been given a gigantic mountain to climb in keeping the audience engaged. With what must be pages and pages of monologue for Tom Gill, playing the landlord, he did well in his
charismatic portrayal of the gruff storyteller.
"where the tales of the dark and mysterious ooze through the cracks of its decaying bark" The stories, enacted by the rest of the ensemble unfortunately leave more to be desired, with disembodied voices reverberating and echoes of bird cries (cut off a little too early in the editing suite) verging on the comical. Maybe the ideas are not at fault, but the form it takes. It is hard to make anything supernatural and fear inducing so believable when it's happening live in front of you. A shrouded ghostly woman drifts down through the audience; only seconds later she appears at the opposite end of the stage shrieking like a harpy; a nice idea, but in reality it missed the spot. Whether it was due to lighting, timing, or the fact that the two
is storytelling in its simplest form; a storyteller and an audience, three stories written with the same scare-inciting intent. But can simplicity ever be too simple? Perhaps not, but , in its attempts to make the audience squirm in their seats, only fulfilled the entertainment criteria, whilst leaving the new perspective and the new insights box firmly unticked. A good comedy makes us laugh, but a great comedy makes us laugh and think. Surely the same can be said of gothic theatre, and that something was missing from this grotesque melodrama. Perhaps, instead, I should start watching Saw V in a dark empty house. With a pizza.
REVIEWS BAD HOUSE "Watch out you might get what you're after
...Burning down the House" Talking Heads
...strange but not a stranger...
Tony Portsmouth would never kill a crow The first show to get us started on a tremendous week celebrating the magic that drama offers, as well as the young people behind it, was by Aireborne Theatre, and a classic start it was too. Oozing out the conventions of ghost stories, the audience entered into the ensemble's creepy world of unsettling characters. I couldn't help but associate them with the three Custodians in H.G.Wells' classic. Tom Gill as the Landlord had exquisite presence ushering everyone to their seats and making us feel unnaturally comfortable with his grotesque humour, not to mention a gruff vocal choice, which carried his good storytelling abilities to even further heights. The company made interesting choices by using imagery over movement and listening rather than working our visuals, stressing a classic Alfred Hitchcock technique which states
that nothing can be worse than your imagination. This brought our audience back to a more raw essence of storytelling and solidified suspense. However, I felt that the movement that did exist in the play wasn't needed. The company should have been confident enough to strictly keep with images rather than movement.
" the Landlord had exquisite presence " Wonderful experimentation with the Violin by David Ramsay further painted our minds with the mood that these stories were producing. On the other hand, audio sounds were snappy and didn't make sense; rain came and went ever so quickly for example.
young people. I'm not married, I don't have children and of course... I've never killed a crow, and I think I speak on behalf of over half the young people within this festival. If this was an audience containing family members from the top and bottom of the age spectrum, parents and young children, this piece would have had a greater effect. To me, this play was about the results of being controlled by something else, whether it's alcohol, rage, temptation or depression they all have devastating effects, like poison. And to me, they presented that with a spiritual punch.
One of the goals of ghost stories is to scare you, unfortunately, by the end of the experience, even during it, I wasn't scared, nor was I sleeping with the lights on. This is due to the themes of these stories; they were not aimed at
Point Horror - Drama Festival!
Holly Jazz Lowe cracks on through your skull with Chapter Four As news of the murder spread, an understandable gloomy and nervous atmosphere clung about the Festival just as the dank and wet air literally did (because it was raining, yo). Those first few days were, although trying to put on a good show, grey and overcast. Mutterings and whisperings of who did it? and why was that piece selected?! fluttered about the town like origami butterflies. Our group of teens, Reader were breaking apart as a group, each with their own measure to cope.
Reader! I saw her with my own eyes in here last night! I saw her perched next to Noises Off editor Claire Trevien speaking French and feeding her cheese and reciting Baudelaire! I saw her impress Noises Off editor Phil Mann with her perfect recital of the Periodic Table Of Elements Song by memory. She rocked the Cosmic Inferno at Copy Deadline and dazzled pretty much everyone in the NOFFice with her relentless coffee-making skills. I myself, Reader, must admit to
Madrigal had taken to going for long walks with Bret along the foreshore in the rain. They wouldn't really say much, but then, did they really need to? Bret would walk just slightly ahead and Madrigal would trot behind obediently. Up and down, from the Spa to the fairground and back again. In the rain; like sad old seaside donkeys.
"She rocked the cosmic inferno" Kitty had forged friendships with other groups. She could be seen at the bar and outside of shows more often than not with other cast members from the shows. Sometimes she was seen going into discussions with Selectors, Workshop Leaders and Visiting Artists. Sometimes she was seen playing Tupple(TM) with the techies and everybody else. She was good at it too. Long legs, flexible, ice-cold stare, there was no shaking her off her concentration of winning. She even came here, to the NOFFice,
his hands together and humming and dying all at the same time. "Mate! Mate!!" Leon was shouting through drunk lips, shaking his friend by his shoulders violently. "You're letting the drama get you!! Next you'll be singing I Like The Flowers..." Zach's eyes snapped back into focus. Like a robot he started: "I
At this point Richard Hurst was passing and he swung around, poised, holding an imaginary cane and tipping an imaginary hat as he sang out in his best, show-tune voice, "I like the mountaaaaaaains-ah!" and at THIS point, Alan Lane was crossing the floor, he jumped into a squat position and as he sang the next line he made a sort of rolling gesture with his hands whilst inappropriately thrusting his hips,
being rather charmed by the girl but I kept my distance all the same. You would too if you knew what I did. And then there was Leon and Zach. Visibly shaken from the murder and horribly drunk from the drinking, they spent their time, huddled in the dark corners of the Ocean Room exchanging their secrets. "This is just like before" Leon was slurring, gesticulating wildly with his double scotch. "Do you remember, mate? Just like before." Zach was nodding and crying and shaking his head and coughing and sort of dancing and slapping
"I like the ROLLING HILLS" And then Matt Thompson, Chief LX spotting Nic Watson, Tech Director nearby hit a spot light to rest on Nic to which Nic was only too happy to oblige, pirouetting whilst delivering the next line, "I like the fireside when the lights are low....singing a......" Well. Can you guess, Reader? The whole of the Ocean Room launching into doo-wap, including I might add Festival Director Holly Kendrick. Everyone doing the dance, the actions, even adopting Alan Lane's take on the 'rolling hills'.
DAILY SERIAL I like the flowers! I like the daffodils!
I like the mountains! I like the ROLLING HILLS (phwoar) HEY!
"Get out your blindfolds, everyone! No peeking now! Put them on! Tie them up!"
I like the fireside when the lights are low singing a doo-wap a doo-wap a doo-wap a doo..... This was enough to snap Leon and Zach out of the states they had been in. Everyone was hugging one another, telling them they were glad they were alive. It was really quite touching. I watched from the NOFFice across the patio into the Ocean Room. Then I noticed Bret, alone and looking into the Ocean Room from the outside, stood in the pouring rain. He wasn't smoking ie. he wasn't doing anything that would give someone a reason to be stood in the rain. He was simply stood, looking in.
So there they all were, in darkness; the noise of the performers drowning out anything that could possibly enter anybody's internal monologues. The audience, guessing when they were allowed to remove the blindfolds, did so in bits and pieces; dribs and drabs. The stage was there, strewn with props and in the middle, a body covered in blood, face down with a battleaxe protruding from the skull which was split in half, right down the crown. The audience applauded and whispered to one another "How clever! So realistic!" and continued to lap up the songs and the colours and the vibrancy of the piece.
'a gun to fire a bullet of ice...' looked up, uneasy and suddenly quite frightened. "Zach?" she squeaked. "Is... is that you?"
When it was over, they all huddled in the rain outside. Leon lit a cigarette and Madrigal and Bret stood by him. Madrigal was gently lowing over his shoulder into his ear.
She strained to see but the light was too bright. The person started making their way down the steps, toward her; slowly, but assertively.
"Good donkey" he said and rubbed her nose.
Poor Kitty. Just before she was killed, she was granted the pleasure of light to look into the eyes of her murderer. In the last seconds before her death, she saw Zach. Not Zach walking toward her with gun to fire a bullet of ice, but Zach lying on the floor with a battle axe through his head, splitting his skull open along the line of his crown. Zach lying on the floor dead and moments later, Kitty slumped over him, also dead. The pair of them: extinguished, laid to their eternal sleep, enfolded within Abraham's bosom. Both of them: not alive.
"Where the fuck is Zach?" asked Leon, just as Kitty joined them.
The gang were reunited in the queue at The Woolfe for the evening performance of Tell Tale. All talk of the murder was a thing of the past; the past day and a bit anyway. The power of I Like The Flowers had spread its wonder and lifted the spirits of all. The auditorium bustled with renewed energy. The performance began and everybody was having fun. Biscuits, juice, oranges, parachute games and treasure maps. Then it
cylindrical; the handle of the battle axe, still protruding from the dead dummy. She let out an 'ouch' and sat on the floor, rubbing her shin and letting her eyes adjust slowly to the pitch darkness. She felt something wet on her leg which had soaked through her tights. It was warm and thick. It was blood... Suddenly a spotlight shone bright upon her. Within the small circle of light she could see the leg of the dummy... Someone appeared at the top of the stairs where the cast had made their exit. She
"I'll go look for him inside" she said, bouncing off back into the Sports Centre. She walked with confidence into The Woolfe. It was dark. There were no lights on. "Zach?" she called out. "You here?"
Despite treading carefully over the littered set, she tripped over something long and hard and
What You Didn't Know About Scarborough Eva Graham guides you through the town's eccentric history In early March, as I trilled around my flat excited for NSDF and avoiding exams, most people from the UK looked at me oddly when I told them the festival was held in Scarborough. "Why would you want to go there?" they asked, with the slight smirk and raised eyebrow that means I either have done or will soon do something foolish. However, after researching the town, Scarborough is not only filled with brilliantly sunny and fineweathered days, but also interesting local history. Find below a list of things you (probably) didn't know about Scarborough. I'm sure you've heard the lyrics "Are you going to the Scarborough fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme...", but did you ever wonder what, exactly, was this fair? The song was arranged by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, though versions existed before then. The lyrics most likely referred to a six-week summer merchant festival held in Scarborough from the 11th to the 18th century and attracted merchants from all over Europe. The festival no longer exists
today, though the song could, undoubtedly be adapted to refer to NSDF. The column Oliver's Mount, across from Scarborough Castle, is rumoured to have been built when Oliver Cromwell placed a battery to launch at the castle. Today it is the site of motorcycle, car rally, and car-climb races and events. The haunted house in Scarborough is haunted by the ghost of Piers Gaveston, the alleged lover of Edward II. The castle was originally built by William Le Gros in the 12th Century and was used as an impenetrable fortress for nearly five centuries. In the 14th century, after making too many enemies in Edward II's court, Gaveston was banished and fled to his Scarborough Castle. He was taken to Warwick castle to be executed, but his ghost still haunts the ruins of the Scarborough castle. •The original Grand Hotel in Scarborough was built with particular attention to numerical importance. Though I have only experienced rainy and sunny, the four towers of the hotel
represented the four seasons. There were also twelve floors, one for each month, fifty-two chimneys, one for each week, and three hundred and sixty-five bedrooms, one for each day. 5 Famous Scarborians: •Alan Ayckbourn, director and playwright •Dr Henry Vandyke Carter, pathologist and illustrator of Gray's Anatomy •Ben Kingsley, actor •Anne Bronte (sister of Charlotte), writer who died and is buried in Scarborough •Wilfred Owen, who, when stationed in Scarborough during WWI, wrote "Miners"
LOs Eat Cake
claims James Allenby A belated happy birthday for Pam (Local Co-ordinator - Workshops) who received a delightful Hannah Montana cake today.
Say Colin Paxton and Jude Thank you to everyone who helped in the New Hall yesterday and the night before for the amazingness that was the turn around between 4 Bar and Rising and Phaedra's Love. You were all brillant and the shows yesterday really showed it.
Technission Impossible Reports on the latest installment The NOFFice last night was inundated with the results of yesterday's mission: the tidal wave resulting from the sudden oceanification of the Ocean Room was sufficient to wash in all manner of catfish, technicians, and souvenirs from Cornwall. This unexpected backlash from a mission that had seemed so harmless has lead us to be more circumspect our the choice of mission to assign to the Tech crew today: Our erstwhile editor is unwell and astray, and emboldened by this
development the local vampires have been extending their territories into previously safe areas, and are repulsing the abilities of the Scooby/Press Gang to contain them. In the spirit of Buffy, Season 6, Episode 1, in order to intimidate them into an early retreat and buy us more time to effect a successful resurrection, we attempted to create a ROBOT ANDREW HAYDON to assist us on future combat missions. Our early prototypes have all gone horrible wrong, savaging innocent Festgoers who have submitted
perfectly pleasant and well meaning articles to the magazine. So we turn to the tech crew. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to create a robotic figurehead editor with improved target recognition and a maximum of 1% false positives from the friend-or-foe subsystem. Nothing could possibly go wrong with this mission.
The Winning Entries: a catfish washed up in the Ocean Room and the Ocean Room washed up in Cornwall.
Is there anything you can't do?
Nearly Saturday, Don't Forget!
The Tech Crew warns you Nearly Saturday don't forget! Nerdy students don't flirt, No short drapes, finally! Northern skullys don't fidget, Nude Scotsmen dancing (the) fling, Nimo-Smith, donkey fucker? Naturist society dogging fest. Never stand downhill from...
Bravo for the Brav by Sam House
The Technical Crew were today delighted to receive (for the first time in NSDF history) the delivery of the brand new Brav. This, our newest and shiniest bit of kit is already making life much easier for our hardworking crew. Already proving a hit amongst the crew who've come across it, the Brav has more features than you can shake a scaff bar at (and trust us... we've tried). The Brav has to be seen to be believed; for a full explanation of the kit visit my "WTF are you teching about?" session tomorrow at 5pm where I'll be more than happy to explain exactly what this elusive piece of kit does and answer any other questions as well.
Naughty sausage dog fart, Nautical sailors dodge fire, Never shag during festivals, Jen, Jo, Lottie, Camilla, Becky, Will, Izzy, Katie, and the rest of the tech crew! What does NSDF stand for? Lunch time entertainment.
Here is the second edition of Where's Chris's Van?!. Chris, of the amazing tech crew, drives around Scarborough in his Little White Van every day: distributing hardboard, scaff poles, chairs and lots of other techie things to each venue as required. BUT HE'S GONE MISSING, SO WE NEED YOU TO FIND HIM! It's just like Where's Wally? but instead of Wally, you have to find Chris's Van. The first person to find Chris's Little White Van and bring it to the NOFFice wins a prize!
Where's Chris' Van?
Eleanor Blower wants to know
Romance On Route
Will Martin gives us his two pennies worth... 'Do you want some onions?' she asked me tenderly. 'My God you're beautiful' I thought to myself. How had I fallen so deeply in love with this girl? It was ridiculous... surely we would never work. We'd known each other for such a short time and already I wasn't sure whether I could carry on if we had to part. However, even though she stirred within me such feelings of love and tenderness, I still found it hard to express my emotions, even to her. I wanted to pour out my heart to her, tell her that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. Instead all I said was, 'yeah, thanks love'. She smiled at me and I found that my mouth, so unfamiliar with the action, was pulling upwards in a
She met my eyes for the upteenth time and looked away quickly, playing shyly with her short blonde hair in a manner that was both endearingly vulnerable and sexually intriguing. I was going to ask her to pass the mayonnaise but the bottle had a white strand oozing out of the end and, smutty as my insecure mind usually was, I didn't like to make innuendos with her. She had seemed too innocent and I certainly wasn't willing to do anything to jeopardize our relationship. I asked for burger sauce instead (safe burger sauce with the cap firmly on) and she passed it to me across the table, our hands touching for the briefest of
moments: a golden memory to be treasured and kept safe for the rest of our lives. I looked up from my burger and realised that she was staring at me with an intensity I had never seen in her before. I could have lost myself in those twin blue pools of hers for an eternity. She reached out her hand once more, extending it towards me gently, a life raft in my tempestuous world. She gathered herself and spoke, 'that'll be four pounds eighty please'. Matt poked his head round the door. 'Will, come on mate we're going to miss the play'. I gave her one last smile, turned slowly on my heel and walked away. I left the kebab shop, we parted, I carried on.
The Taste Of Blood When I Run Uphill Louise Claughton
After a relatively excercise-free experience of NSDF last year, I was left unprepared for the trying and exhausting challenge of getting from A to B to SJT. My week started by dragging my foolishly heavy suitcase up five flights of stairs. The aftermath of which I feel can only be compared to how Eddie Izzard felt after all those marathons. However, excitement overpowered exhaustion and it was onwards to the Spa bar. Despite this I have obviously had an amazing first day and a bit. A plus-side of the ridiculous amount of stairs and extended journeys is the exercise which I have decided means that an ice cream, waffle and
cheesecake for lunch is totally acceptable. My fellow NSDFers agreed all the way to the Spa complex, however the upward journey back came close to ending their Scarborough fun (probably) as, only two minutes in, my friend casually mentioned, "Down's fine but I hate the taste of blood when I run uphill." Oh dear!
Cox And Willy's Lonely Hearts Column Simon Cox wants some company... Scarborough deviants Simon Cox and Will Martin tell the world of NOFF's ongoing battles to find love in a town where one strives in vain to find a lover without thinning hair, wrinkly fingers and a tendency to fall asleep at any given moment. Not that they're interested in young studs like us anyway. Humph. Eccentric drama student searching for an enthusiastic biologist with a passion for cell structures and herbivores. One eyed landlord looking (not very clearly) for smoking hot wife. Those with children need not apply. Young male searching for a sassy woman willing to impersonate the voice of the elevator in the Grand
Hotel. No previous experience necessary. Audience member searching for characters, plot, relationships and personal space somewhere in the Scarborough Sports Centre area. Over-worked stressed average male, seeks partner who is good with paperwork, has strong grip and owns their own safety net. Murderous pirate with a passion for Broadway tunes and step-ballchanges, desiring someone to make harmony with. ...passion for cell structures and herbivores Local cursed farmer seeking solution for crow problem. Good looks are not entirely desirable. Low sense of self-worth necessary, with a liking for the countryside.
By The Bog Of Cats
Jenni Mellor writes us a poem...
The Chin Review Zoe McNamara eats some chesse and
The best bog rue, when I was young
Shining through the morning light
And slide your hand round your new loves waist;
And blending through the marsh 'till night, Until you and I were done. You've thrown me down so many ways And held my head into the sand So gripping tightly by my hand I'll take your daughter through my
But in your head you think you see
We at Lancaster University Theatre Will you discard her as you did Group have a little video selection me? we would like to share with Her sweetly melancholic face? you...Take a look at 'The Chin Review' on Youtube. It is a simple I'll strike you out now don't you premise, two guys use their chins to fear create videos. We find it somewhat So stand and watch, alone, still amusing, the quotes are often bandied about our rehearsals, such here. as 'Cheeeeeese and Wiiiiine' and 'Edam Tarquin', so I urge you to take a little look and prepare for some giggles, because we ALL write lists...'Shopping lists...death lists...'. Enjoy.
Josie Swan Jenni Mellor
Festival of Haiku More Bloody Haiku's... Sophie Shaw Whitehouse Institute A gallery worth more than just **** Will Bourdillon An open door can create the warmest welcome but the coldest room. Tom Luva Lovette - on Phadre's Love Hippolytus had his nob, throat and heart cut out. How unfortunate. Claire Trevien All reactions to A play are valid. People Will not bite you. Much. Hummus doesn't taste that good, but it's a 'drama dish' so I should. Pshaw! Tim Coker Man in bobble hat. Surely he's not an actor? Come on, try harder. Ben Wall Desperate actors pacing around the dance floor. Shameless networking.
Paul Rafferty And so I was there at the shittest play this year! I didn't like it. And so I was there at the greatest play this year! Really enjoyed it. And so I was there at a mediocre play. It was kind of bland. Jess Mawson Late in the NOFFice I would like to be in bed, but haiku instead! Nikki Paskauskas We trekked through Scarborough Oh what a great palaver! But got a free bag : ) Phil Mann They tint coke bottles To make the black coke inside A bit more tasty.
But What About
Phill Mann finds alot of x's Xanadu
People who have Twitter, use it... TheZazou @noffmag I got two biscuits, but I think it was to make up for the lack of a stone. #TellTales BenLeoLander @noffmag Pheadra's Love - loved the show, such a fantastic young company! I recommend sitting front row for a full experienceBecca Johnson BenLeoLander @noffmag We might have been Invisible Theatre'd in a cafe by the SJT. Anyone had a similar experience involving an American man and a mute? Calmcalmcalm NSDF - reviewers will need more than 140 characters for full blow by blow' account of Phaedra's Love! #dark #comedy Calmcalmcalm Just spotted Buzzword Bingo. Anyone got full house yet? @noffmag RichardTWatson
Another Haiku Yep another one...
The technical team Who dealt with my childish glee Are cooler* than me**
May have just decided that Phaedra's Love is top of the list of favourite shows this year's #NSDF @noffmag nicolascoupe @noffmag Phaedra's Love- slick, funny, disturbing and filthy. Amazing work. dan_hutton @noffmag Whitehouse Institute is so good it makes me want to exchange fluids safely!
hellis1989 @noffmag nice to see discussions have kept the format from last year. Such huge improvement over past #nsdf 's Schedule later is a joke tho Adam_Zed The discussion was excellent today. Thanks so much. Particularly to 'Uncanny' Mike. #nsdf nicolascoupe
LivSilver @noffmag tell Awesome...ill see
@wateracre It also looks like the sea wants to claim the Spa back. Exciting! #NSDF SpiderEternity @noffmag man stage management is tiring! Last 2 shows of tell tale today! Going well ^^ RT @EuanForsyth89 Is the noose in the SJT round there incase the discussions go really badly for the casts and they can't take it anymore?
@noffmag white house institutea playful, entertaining, witty and well controlled installation. fantastic performances & decor. great fun. BenLeoLander "You are almost professional actors! You WILL NOT take your trousers off!" Glad & sad that Bad House is over. #NSDF wateracre @BenLeoLander Now Bad House has finished and you're on @noffmag, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
PREVIEW BY THE BOG OF CATS
An Average Everyday Ghost?
Jenni Mellor wants you to believe in the supernatural Establishing ghosts early on in a play or prose establishes them; they can still be creepy and/or scary, but they are the norm, we don't question why they're there. Toni Morrison's Beloved does this seamlessly, introducing the haunting in the first line and not giving us, the reader, any chance to wonder whether it's real or not.
the Atlantic tend not to use this technique, instead they use ghosts in their more 'spooky' form, and for this I'm thinking of people like Algernon Blackwood, Daphne DuMaurier and Susan Hill (though there might be many who contradict my point, I'm just not widely enough read). There is so much more to be explored
normality, by having the audience just accept that they are there. Marina Carr's By the Bog of Cats does just this and the effect that it causes is both comforting and disconcerting. Based around the Medea myth, it's set in contemporary Ireland with a mixture of those who see and those who don't. The ghosts (and
"The piece reads like naturalism, when in fact it's not at all" Therefore, the piece reads like naturalism, when in fact it's not at all. Other American writers use this tool and in writing this I'm thinking about people like Linda Hogan, who mix cultures within a continent to create something we don't expect by distorting what are our typical expectations. However, writers on our side of
(thinking, specifically, about the Weird Fiction genre) but time is limited and deadlines are approaching...
their 'fanciers') however are the catalysts to the action and this is really refreshing and interesting to see portrayed on stage.
The crux of my argument, however, is that there is an Irish playwright who creates a Morrison-esque effect with her introduction of ghosts as
By the Bog of Cats is being performed by Warwick University in the Clive Wolfe Auditorium on Wednesday and Thursday.
Tonight at Noises Off Your Measures To Cope
Phil Mann - Translating things into Aramaic Claire Trevien - Sleeping in a Giant Champagne Glass Ben Curthoys - Moonshine Jonathan Brittain - Vigourous masturbation. Aaron Cryan - Ladies! Holly Jazz Lowe - Valium Richard T. Watson - Reviewing every single show I see, Coffee Henry Ellis - Final Fantasy VII John Winterburn - JESUS! Ben Lander - Sarah Palin videos on YouTube Euan Forsyth - Puttin' the balls in Jasmine Woodcock-Stewrt - Pigging out Kieran Balfe - Too much too old Will Martin - I don't cope Phoebe Bourke - Pastries Simon Cox - Sweating Stacey Norris - Nubes Peter Holmes - Penis Becki Bryan - Ben Lander Rebekka Taylor - John Lennon Martyn Andrew - Vodka Sophie Shaw - A Ruler Jess Maweson - Sofas Anna Himali Howard - Solar Recharging Flower Gray - Hibernating Tom Lovett - Facebook and Ice cream Keri Dearmer - Biscuits Lani Isaacs - Peanut butter Ben Stephen - Flames Grace Emins - A huge cup of tea :) (+ biscuits for brownie points) Dan Hutton - A massive belly laugh Pete Stormont - Bottle of Bailey's Liu Silver - a lively and passionate dance routine Rebecca Johnson - Ben Lander Mike Franzkowiak - Watching Charlton Olivia Ivens - 15cm Katherine Tate - Chocolate Isolde Godfrey - Red Bull and Pasta Mary Osborn - Isolde Godfrey
Mark "MJ" Julz - Sausage Rolls and Marlboros Sam House - Gaffer tape Grace Stead - Alcohol Niamh Conway - Wit Amber Hine - Electrical tape Cat Hobart - Dressing as a tin foil fish Cocin Paxiow - Leaky Roof Alex Tweddle - Dressing as a tin foil fish Ben Crawford - Ben Lander Claudia Marinaro - Diet coke Eleanor Blower - Chocolate and Jesus Rachel Clutterbuck - A nice pint of Strongbow Zoe McNamara - Love Diana Winpenny - Stacey, Zoe, Tate, Pete, Rachel, esp. when they aren't knobs. Jen Willey - Vodka Dean Ankat - Vodka and Diet coke Christy McL - Amaretto and coke Dave Laruing - Vodka and Power Tools Adrian Spring - Weetabix Danny Pisser - Hope Sam Powell - Writing too much [Ed.] Will Bourdillon - Generally forgetting that whatever I need to cope with is happening Gabby Peters - Food Nadia Pyramid - Posing for medical research Cheryl Govan - Cats and wine A big thank you, as always, to everyone who came last night and typed, proofed, layed-out, made tea, sang songs, made jokes and generally contributed to the lovely atmosphere. We love you. Tonight's proof readers were Sam Powell, Adrian Spring, Richard Mawbray, Daniel Prasser, Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart, Cheryl Gwan, Jude Bach, and Jon Brittain. An even bigger thank you to them, and remember blame them for any errors you spot in today's issue. This of course includes factual mistakes and opinions you disagree with.
Published on Apr 7, 2010