“Jubilee” at The Lyric Hammersmith: Adapting Punk Classic

The late Derek Jarman’s 1978 film Jubilee is a punk classic. I think he was in his Fellini phase, his vision peopled by freaks, dwarfs, and cracked actors. And punks of every description. Plus a few New Romantics. And a touch of Andy Warhol (as in film-maker). The film is theatrical, situationist, punky, camp, awkward, word-choked, and often as slow as a drop of sweat dribbling down your back on a hot day—basically a mess, but great if you see it as a late nighter. And stoned. If not, a touch embarrassing. Cringe-making. You just need to pick out the good bits like...

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“Memorial” Is A Shattering Excavation Of The Scars Of War Through Poetry, Dance, And Mind Blowing Score

Arthur Danto, in his Analytic Philosophy of History, calls the common noun “scar” a “past-referring term.” In this way, language acknowledges the passing of time, representing verbally what happens to us physically. The mystery of appearance and disappearance in the world–the cycle of life and death–is caught in the warp and weft of how we speak, the soul made manifest by the word. Memorial is a large-scale performance piece drenched in a sense of time passed. Based on Alice Oswald’s poetic exploration of the Iliad (the precise, and again temporally charged, descriptor is “excavation”), it brings together a transcendent...

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Discussion On The Greatest Theatrical Scandal Of 2017: “Klątwa” At The Powszechny Theatre In Warsaw

Kasia Lech (KL): How could we introduce Klątwa [The Curse] and its context to someone for whom the play, Polish theatre, and the Polish socio-political context are rather unknown? Agata Łuksza (AŁ): Undoubtedly Klątwa, directed by Olivier Frljić, caused in Poland the greatest theatrical scandal of 2017. It premiered at the Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw, a city-subsidized institution led by Paweł Łysak and Paweł Sztarbowski who coined their theatre “theatre which interferes.” So far, all of Frljić’s attempts to cooperate with Polish theatres have resulted in nationwide discussions about the borders of theatre art. Klątwa really struck a chord by...

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Contemporary “Electra” by DumbWise at The Bunker Theatre

Electra is the protagonist in two Ancient Greek tragedies, one by Sophocles and the other by Euripides. The story is typically bloody: as the daughter of King Agamemnon and his wife Clytemnestra, she wants to revenge the murder of her father by her mother. In her sights are both Clytemnestra and her mother’s new lover, Aegisthus. But unable to do the deed herself, Electra awaits the return of her long-lost brother Orestes, who everyone else says is dead. He isn’t, of course, and when he returns there is much spillage of blood. It is, after all, a revenge tragedy....

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I Wanted To Remove The Language Of Gender: Hindi Adaptation of Lorca’s “Yerma”

Mahesh Dattani explores the symbolism, futurism and surreal influences of Spanish dramatist Federico García Lorca by directing a Hindi adaption of Yerma. The Drama School Mumbai’s annual production, which showcases their current batch of 14 students, is a take on Federico García Lorca’s Yerma, rechristened Maati in this Hindi adaptation by Neha Sharma, directed by noted playwright Mahesh Dattani. In conversation with The Hindu, Dattani talks about the queer themes that he has explored in the play. Why did you select Yerma? Jehan (Maneckshaw) had suggested we do a classic this time. He was keen to do Karnad’s Taledanda, but I was really struck by Yerma. I had caught...

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“Y Tad” – Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru (A Welsh Translation of Florian Zeller’s “The Father”)

Terry Eagleton reminds us that in order for tragedy to occur, then the protagonist must be in search of their own complete individual identity of freedom [1]. That freedom, as I understand it, comes in multiple forms. Usually, if we begin in the Aristotelian sense, the harmatia (or, the tragic “flaw”) is that the character cannot be in control of the desired fate that (in ancient terms) the gods have set for them. In the case of Y Tad, that fate is out of the hands of Arwyn, the central protagonist of this story. As previously mentioned in my...

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Chris Goode’s “Jubilee” – The State of The (Punk) Nation

The idea here is both exquisitely complex and wonderfully simple. On the one hand, Chris Goode’s show, Jubilee, is marking the 40th anniversary of Derek Jarman’s alternative cinema classic, the dystopian, ultra postmodern homage to a particular moment in British history – the year 1977– the simultaneous celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s silver jubilee and the irrepressible, all-consuming advent of the counterculture of punk. On the other hand it is a state of the nation play. In many ways, Goode’s Jubilee is a re-enactment of Jarman’s. The plot of the film is followed very closely with all the cinematic...

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Molière’s “The School For Wives” At The City Garage Theatre, Santa Monica

Los Angeles can be a tricky theatre city to pin down.  Though we do have a theatre district it is not necessarily centrally located nor conveniently grouped into one clearly defined area. The Music Center, Center Theatre Group, and the Pantages can offer up some visually stunning and emotionally engaging work with large stages, large houses, large casts and operating large budgets, but one of the more enjoyable aspects of the theatre-going experience for this reviewer in this sprawling city is the fact that this spatial reality has motivated companies to carve out niches in sometimes unexpected places and the City...

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Rude Mechs’ Experiment With Dostoevsky’s “Brothers Karamazov”

Rude Mechs, an Austin-based ensemble in their twenty-first year of collective creation, recently appeared at the Yale Repertory Theatre. As is their wont, Rude Mechs’ production is a reshaping of a work whose ideas, characters, potential for humor, and updating appealed to the group. The consensus is de rigueur in the running of this company. Field Guide, commissioned by Yale, is an unusual adaptation of The Brothers Karamazov now in its third iteration. Its source is the Constance Garnett translation of Dostoyevsky’s novel which runs to more than a thousand pages while the play is eighty minutes long. It is striking that...

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“I Feel As If I’m Loosing My Leaves:” Translatability Of Theme Through Language In Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s Production Of Florian Zeller’s “Y Tad”

The universality of Florian Zeller’s undiminished modern masterpiece The Father has ceased to lose its translatability to a wider global audience. There aren’t many plays in the contemporary repertoire which have gauged the same excitement and fascination by audiences, scholars and theatre-makers alike. Here in September, the premiere of a recent Dutch translation by Jolijn Tevel reached the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam’s Leidseplein[i]. This month, Wales’ flagship Welsh language theatre company Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru will be the first company in Wales to present the inaugural Welsh translation by Geraint Løvgreen. The Play. The Father, premiered in Paris in 2015 (entitled Le...

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Reinterpreting The Tradition: A Contemporary Retelling Of Tang Xianzu’s “The Handan Dream” By The Guangzhou Dramatic Arts Centre

Conceived in 2016 in Guangzhou and previously performed in Beijing and St. Petersburg, the Guangzhou Dramatic Arts Centre’s production of The Handan Dream had its UK premiere at the Hackney Empire in London on January 25-27, 2018. Authored by the illustrious Ming-dynasty scholar and playwright Tang Xianzu—a contemporary of Shakespeare—The Handan Dream (Handan ji, 1601) is a classic Chinese-language play about an epiphanic dream, which upsets and brings a radically new perspective to the life of Lu Sheng, a young and frustrated scholar whose high aspirations for a successful career in the civil service have so far failed repeatedly. Surprisingly though,...

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Satoshi Miyagi Returns To The Japan Society With “Mugen Noh Othello”

New York City’s Japan Society closed out its 2017-18 Noh-Now series this past January with renowned director Satoshi Miyagi’s Mugen Noh Othello. I was fortunate to see this compelling noh-inspired piece, remounted by Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC), where Miyagi has served as the Artistic Director since 2007. Shifting focus from the Moor of Shakespeare’s tragedy to that of his ill-fated and “un-notable” wife, Desdemona, Mugen Noh Othello presents an innovative reimagining that keenly considers the tale from the point of view of Othello’s victims. Mugen Noh Othello is the third time Miyagi’s work has appeared at the Japan...

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See Naples And Die! Marco D’Amore’s “American Buffalo”

American Buffalo is the story of a failure. A foretold, almost desired conclusion, an inescapable fate which one cannot possibly hope to avoid. It’s a tale of slums, slang, and profanity, of stinking shops and torn clothes. It’s an apology of decay: three human beings and an unlikely plan bound to fail, which they cling on to with their fingernails and refuse to let go of! It’s the desire for payback, for life, even at the cost of someone else’s. —Marco D’Amore, director, actor and (partly) adapter for American Buffalo.   A play whose first nominal association could easily point to wild West myths...

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“The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time” Trades Deadpan For High-octane

The National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, currently playing at the Arts Centre Melbourne with MTC, is a lauded adaptation of Mark Haddon’s debut novel, of the same title. Haddon’s book was published to much acclaim in 2003. Its literary innovation is in part due to the author’s dead-pan characterization of the internal monologue of 15-year-old protagonist, Christopher Boone, whom the reader is led to assume is neurologically atypical. Publicity for the novel referred to the young protagonist, Christopher, as having Asperger’s Syndrome, something that in hindsight, the author “slightly regrets.” Rather,...

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Tom Rachman’s “Basket Of Deplorables”

Basket Of Deplorables By Tom Rachman at Gladstone Theatre. If the definition of satire is: “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues” Tom Rachman definitely hit the mark with his latest book Basket Of Deplorables. In this series of short stories, he explores the Trump era with an open eye, leaving no room for sympathy for the culture of his own time. Of course, his journalistic career made him a knowable observer of our reality.  Rachman worked as an editor at...

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“The Virgin Suicides” Dying In The Age Of Suicide

A Production of the Munich Kammerspiele winner of XIV Europe Prize Theatrical Realities, 2017 Inspired by the 1993 novel The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides and the 1999 film adaptation by Sofia Coppola, Susanne Kennedy’s production looks at the difficult issue of teenage suicide that has become a curse of today’s society. An exploration of the impossible journey through a near-death experience, the production is structured after the Tibetan Book Of The Dead. It follows the death voyage of the now deceased 13-year-old girl, Cecilia, from the highly religious Lisbon family in the US. To those familiar with the novel, Kennedy’s adaptation might appear...

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Clowning Around: An Unconventional “Heungbo-ssi” Misses the Mark

Audiences laughed throughout Ko Sun-woong’s new work Heungbo-ssi (written and directed by Ko Sun-woong, pansori music and libretto by Lee Zaram, National Theater of Korea Daloreum Theater, April 4–16, 2017). After his previous piece Madame Ong (premiered June 2016) succeeded domestically, it traveled to France, promoting Korean changgeuk—sometimes called Korean opera—abroad. Ko appreciates pansori and has experience directing musicals and operas. Still, it is remarkable that his two changgeuk productions have caused such a sensation since he does not fully understand the genre. Heungbo-ssi and Madame Ong are not original works; they are based respectively on one of the five...

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“A Special Day” by Ettore Scola-Pure Theatrical Plot

A Special Day is based on the 1977 film Una Giornata Particolare by Ettore Scola, starring Sophia Loren and Marcelo Mastroianni. It was adapted to the theater in 1983 by Scola himself and since then it has performed in different stages around the world. It is currently showing in Mexico City and touring around the country with great success, performed by Edith González and Luis Felipe Tovar. The action takes place on May 6, 1938, a celebration day for fascist Italy, which turns to the reception of Adolf Hitler on his first visit to Rome to meet Benito Mussolini. Almost...

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Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt” Gets A Cultural Twist When Director Yang Jung-ung Teams Up With Actor Kenji Urai

South Korean director Yang Jung-ung’s career has spanned several continents. From his theater work, with casts of numerous nationalities, to his role as artistic director for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, it’s clear he has long had the world in his sights. “I’ve always been drawn to experimental, intercultural directors such as the Italian Eugenio Barba, who is based in Denmark, Poland’s Italy-based pioneer Jerzy Grotowski and the great globe-trotting German modern dance icon Pina Bausch,” he says. Recently, though, the 48-year-old dramatist has been working out of a rehearsal studio at Setagaya Public Theatre in Tokyo, where he...

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Review: “Pawâkan Macbeth’s” Call For Reconciliation Spans Time, Language, And Place

Edmonton, Alberta. Connor Meeker reviews Pawâkan Macbeth: A Cree Tragedy, a co-production between Akpik Theatre and Theatre Prospero of Reneltta Arluk’s adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy: Adapting one of the Bard’s swiftest and punchiest plays, Theatre Prospero and Akpik Theatre’s Pawâkan Macbeth: A Cree Tragedy reimagines the Scottish Lord in Western Canada. Playwright Reneltta Arluk’s adaptation—or “takeover,” as she prefers to call it—skillfully interlaces a canonical Shakespearean tragedy with Indigenous myth and worldview, creating a poignant and darkly humorous production. Arluk sets the action in Plains Cree territory in the 1870s, before the signing of Treaty 6—a tumultuous time of conflict between First Nations warring...

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