Sergey Kuryshev: This Means Figuring Out Our Life And Presenting It On The Basis Of The Classic Text

Tonight is the opening night of Uncle Vanya at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, In anticipation of the Chekhov’s play being offered to the London audience, we approached the leading actor of the Maly Drama Theatre Sergey Kuryshev (in Life And Fate he played Viktor Shtrum). Sergey, you have been working in theatre for a long time, you are a People’s Artist of the Russian Federation. What is for you the essence of an actor’s profession?  Sergey: I think, first of all, it is equally vital and fascinating to become aware of what the author is offering to us: to fully understand...

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Cross-cultural Encounters In World Theatre: Bertolt Brecht, The “Alienation” Effect And Chinese Drama

The German playwright and drama theorist Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) is particularly famous for his theory of alienation as a technique of acting and as an “effect” on the audience. Brecht called them, respectively, Verfremdung and Verfremdungseffekt (or V-effekt); however, in lieu of “alienation,” a more appropriate term to render these words into English would be “estrangement,” for alienation is exactly what Brecht intended to prevent through his newly devised performance apparatus, also known as epic theatre. By replacing traditional character impersonation with third-person narration and by employing a series of other devices aimed at defamiliarizing the dramatic events, Brecht wanted the audience to avoid...

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Ella Hickson’s “The Writer” at The Almeida Theatre

Is there such a thing as female writing? In the 1980s, a group of women writers emerged who expressed their sense of lived experience through plays that challenged the tradition of linear drama by fracturing the time sequences of their stories. Examples include Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls and Charlotte Keatley’s My Mother Said I Never Should. In the past two decades, women playwrights have mainly stuck to linear narratives and social realism. But this may be changing: the recent work of Alice Birch or Elinor Cook or Nina Segal or Adura Onashile or Sophie Wu shows a willingness to experiment with form,...

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“Nine Night” at The National Theatre: The Play About Grief

The good news about so-called black drama on British stages is that it has broken out of its gangland violence ghetto and now talks about a whole variety of other subjects. Like loss. Like death. Like mourning. So London-born actress Natasha Gordon’s warmhearted play, Nine Night, now making its first appearance at the National Theatre, is as much about family, music, and mourning as it is about ethnicity or migration. Inspired by the ritual of Jamaican funerals, in which the final ninth night of a wake is the time that the deceased’s spirit must finally leave this world, the play looks...

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“Absolute Hell” at The National Theatre

Rodney Ackland must be the most well-known forgotten man in postwar British theatre. His legend goes like this: Absolute Hell was originally titled The Pink Room, and first staged in 1952 at the Lyric Hammersmith, where it got a critical mauling. The Sunday Times’s Harold Hobson said that the audience “had the impression of being present, if not at the death of talent, at least at its very serious illness.” Hurt by such criticism, Ackland fell silent for almost four decades. Then, as he struggled against leukemia in the 1980s, he rewrote the play. Produced by the Orange Tree Theatre in 1988, it...

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An Actor’s Guide To Playing God

Mugamudigal, a city-based theatre group, gives lovers of the medium a chance to learn the ancient art of therukoothu. “An entire street would transform into a stage. The actors, positioned at two ends, would call out to each other. The fight scenes would be fearful. They would be shooting arrows at each other,” Priyanka Ulaganathan, a young architect, still recalls those nights she sat transfixed by the therukoothu performances in her village of Nangavalli in Salem. The stories were mostly from the Mahabharata. But soon, the culture of her village changed. Disco dancers replaced the koothu artists and the memory of watching the men...

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“La Cerisaie”: Chekhov’s “Cherry Orchard” With New Secrets

La Cérisaie (The Cherry Tree/The Cherry Orchard) presented by the Belgian company TG STAN (i.e. Stop Thinking About Names). The Flemish TG Stan collective from Antwerp chose to perform their version of Chekhov’s last play (1903-04), as a comedy where the tragedy was reduced to moments of pure pathos as the actors free themselves from the constraints of Chekhov’s theatrical conventions. The enclosed space of a dying society has flung open the windows and let fresh air flood into the theatre to produce a counter-discourse that brought this performance beyond past readings of the play. This reading was at time intriguing but at...

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“Pressure” at The Park Theatre: New Play on D-Day

There are few things more British than talking about the weather. What makes this play about a meteorologist interesting, however, is its historical setting: the eve of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. Although stories from the Second World War are hardly a rarity in contemporary British culture, this one is fascinatingly original and arrives at the Park Theatre after a national tour, having originally been seen at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum and Chichester in 2014. Already on its way to the West End, it is a huge personal triumph for actor and writer David Haig, who stars in...

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“The Birthday Party”- A Classic That Never Grows Old

Toby Jones, Zoë Wanamaker, Stephen Mangan, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Peter Wight, and Pearl Mackie make good justice to Pinter’s possibly most intriguing and cryptic piece. The play opens with Meg (Zoë Wanamaker) and Pete (Peter Wright) sitting in the living room of their rundown seaside boarding house; engaged in futile conversation while having breakfast. Down the stairs comes Stanley (Toby Jones) the only boarder they have been having for years now. He is an unkempt, bespectacled, disheveled, ill-humored man in his thirties whose appearance in the scene quickly sets the tone of the play. The performance unfolds a determining twist when, after Pete leaves for work, Meg tells Stanley that two new guests will be arriving shortly in...

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Towards The Polski Theatre In The Underground

Protests against the new manager During the decade 2006–2016 the Polski Theatre in Wrocław became one of the leading Polish theatres. Thanks to cooperation with important theatre directors, such as Krystian Lupa, Ewelina Marciniak, Monika Pęcikiewicz, Monika Strzępka, Barbara Wysocka, Michał Borczuch, Krzysztof Garbaczewski, Jan Klata, Paweł Świątek, Łukasz Twarkowski, and Michał Zadara, most of the theatre’s artistic team was undergoing the process of maturing into professional emancipation and increased employee awareness. The first visible sign was the establishment of the trade union Workers’ Initiative, which most of the actors and others engaged in the artistic work joined. At...

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Theatre Against Non-Human Reality: A Few Sentences About the Theatre of the Eighth Day

The Theatre of the Eighth Day (Teatr Ósmego Dnia), from Poznań, has been a phenomenon of Polish independent theatre for 54 years. It is comparable to Jerzy Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre or Tadeusz Kantor’s Cricot 2 Theatre. Like each of these theatres, it determined the area of its artistic autonomy. It was founded in 1964 by students of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. As the students’ theatre of poetry, for the first few years it operated under the direction of Tomasz Szymański. They were closer to the legendary Rhapsodic Theatre of Mieczysław Kotlarczyk from the years of wartime occupation than...

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Poland and The World of the Bad Change: The Theatre of the Eighth Day’s “And They Pitched a Tent Among Us”

For the last three years, liberal, pro-European Poland has been experiencing an identity crisis. It seems that the demons have been brought to the forefront: religious obscurantism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and sexism. Cultural and intellectual openness has been replaced with populism and nationalism. The Theatre of the Eighth Day (Teatru Ósmego Dnia) does not remain indifferent to these processes. As in the days of communism, it takes the side of the open society. In the face of propaganda, a nationalistic-oriented vision of history, this theatre is the voice of conscience. A cry for reflection, a critical look at the civic...

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Contemporary Poland in “Paragraph 196 (Exercises on Terror)” by the Theatre of the Eighth Day

The Theatre of the Eighth Day’s Paragraph 196 (exercises on terror) (Paragraf 196 kk (ćwiczenia z terroru)) places the viewer in the mental centre of today’s Poland. Paragraph 196 as a socio-political diagnosis The title refers to a quite controversial paragraph of the Polish Criminal Code, detailing punishments for offending religious feelings. In Poland, artists were put on trial based on this paragraph. In Poland, criminal proceedings were imposed on artists based on this paragraph. One of the creators of the performance is Paweł Hajncel, a performer critical of the Catholic Church. His performances accompany religious processions. Hajncel appears...

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Living And Breathing History, Through Noh

Noh performer Hisa Uzawa has spent her life devoted to an art form that—with its slow and steady movements, sparse staging and ancient chanting—may at first seem staid. In her hands, however, the 650-year-old tradition becomes relentlessly contemporary. Uzawa was born into a noh family in 1949. Her father, Masashi, was a shite (lead actor) in the Kanze School and part of the Tessenkai Ensemble, and Uzawa grew up steeped in traditional music and arts. “When I first moved here, the house we had was much smaller,” she tells The Japan Times from her home in Shinagawa Ward. “I could hear...

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Legendary Russian Actor Oleg Tabakov Has Died. Why Was This Actor Loved by Everyone in Russia?

People’s Artist of the USSR, legendary Russian actor and director, Oleg Tabakov died on March 12, 2018, at the age of 82 years. “Oleg Tabakov, the great actor of a great era, died: the man loved by the whole country has gone,” journalist Dmitry Smirnov wrote, representing the voice of numerous admirers, colleagues and students, mourning the death of the master. Having been the head of one of the most significant Russian theatres for 18 years, the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre, Tabakov was one of the most important Soviet and Russian theatre and cinema actors for many generations of...

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Interpreting The Epics

The Tenkutittu and Badagutittu traditional theatre styles of coastal Karnataka come alive. The casual observer might well consider most traditional theatre forms of India to be monolithic institutions whose tenets have been passed down centuries. While the provenance or historicity of these forms are never called into question, the variations and nuanced diversity innate to a performance style is often glossed over by the pervasive exoticisation of our times. For instance, the catch-all Yakshagana, or the traditional theatre of coastal Karnataka, conjures up images of archetypal performances in all too familiar regalia that are scarcely indistinguishable from each other. Yet,...

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“The Actor’s Life for Me:” A Conversation With David Greenspan

David Greenspan keeps busy. Just two weeks after closing his monumental solo rendition of Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude with the Transport Group he began rehearsals for New Saloon’s production of Milo Cramer’s new play Cute Activist at the Bushwick Starr. Then he was off to Two River Theater in Redbank, New Jersey to star in his own adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey, in which he plays the “aged Harlequin” Uncle Pio, a charming, if disreputable, man of the theater described as resembling “a soiled pack of cards.” I recently met up with him at...

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The Gaze Of The Robot: Oriza Hirata’s Robot Theatre

Ten Years of Robot Theatre Directed by Oriza Hirata In Japan, the development of humanoid robots and their integration into human society has been in the forefront of research for decades. Robots are becoming a common sight in various settings. One of the biggest telecommunication companies introduced a social humanoid robot that is able to “read” the emotions from the facial expression and voice of its partner. This robot is now serial manufactured, welcoming customers at the shops, orienting foreigners at the airport arrival, as a preparation for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. For the graying generation, the everyday presence...

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Mind The Gap: Theatre Group For The Over 60s Helps Salisbury Playhouse Cater For All

One of the things Salisbury Playhouse tries to do is provide opportunities for everyone in the community to experience theatre and the pleasure that it brings. Our theatre group for the over 60s, Mind the Gap, supports our remit of putting the key priorities of our local authority Wiltshire Council at the heart of our work. To help Wiltshire Council fulfill its key priority of inclusivity, we aim to provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. Mind the Gap meets weekly at Salisbury Playhouse for a variety of theatre-based workshops. The group has been running for 10...

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