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Adaptation, Participation, Risk-taking: Creative Interventions In Contemporary Performance

Translator and theatre scholar Dr. Jozefina Komporaly reflects on a day of exchange between the worlds of research, practice, and immersive theatre, with adaptation and interactivity at its core. This article aims to highlight converges and confluences between professional performance practice, academia, and the general public, drawing on an event that situated the day-to-day work of theatre practitioners, aspects of performance criticism, and the notion of work in progress side by side. The venue, however, was not the familiar territory of a break-out space or rehearsal room regularly used by theatre professionals, but the Theatre @ Wimbledon College of Arts, University of...

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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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“Nightfall” at The Bridge Theatre

Playwright Barney Norris is as prolific as he is talented. Barely out of his twenties, he has written a series of excellent plays—the award-winning Visitors, follow-ups Eventide and While We’re Here—as well as a couple of novels and lots of poetry. After collaborating in setting up a theatre company, Up In Arms, he now works as a prestigious resident playwright at Keble College, Oxford, and has still found time to write a study of the dramas of veteran playwright Peter Gill. Named as one of the 1000 most influential Londoners by the Evening Standard, his latest play, Nightfall, has just opened at the very high-profile...

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“Calderland–A People’s Opera” Celebrating Yorkshire Community’s Response To Floods Wins Top Award

A “folk opera” which celebrates the response of the local community in Calder Valley to the devastating Boxing Day floods which hit the Yorkshire region in 2015 has won a prestigious classical music award. Calderland–A People’s Opera, performed by a choir of 200 adults and children with the help of a cast of thousands, won the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for Learning and Participation. Opera that “changes lives” The work, with a “compelling narrative and sophisticated musical language” hailed the resilience, recovery, and reinvention of the Calder Valley community following the floods and involved thousands of participants in workshops,...

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“Mood Music” at The Old Vic

Playwright Joe Penhall and the music biz? Well, they have history. When he was writing the book for Sunny Afternoon, his 2014 hit musical about the Kinks, he had a few run-ins with Ray Davies, the band’s lead singer. A couple of years ago The Stage newspaper quoted Penhall as saying that his initial “bromance” with Davies had “rotted into a cancerous feud,” and that the singer had wanted a writing credit for Penhall’s work. The pair have since patched up their differences, but I am sure that the emotional fuel of this conflict powers Penhall’s latest play, whose production at the...

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“Masterpieces” at The Finborough Theatre

Neil McPherson, the long-serving head of this London fringe theatre, has a brilliant record of succeeding where many other venues have failed—namely in reviving both modern postwar classics and restaging the forgotten plays of recent decades. And all on a shoestring. His current revival of Sarah Daniels’s 1983 feminist classic, Masterpieces, is his latest good idea. It’s a play that is often seen, in textbooks, as typical of a militant femintern style of theatre-making so, in the #MeToo moment, it now acquires a renewed relevance. But is it really such a good play? The first professional London production in 35 years, Masterpieces tells...

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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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London’s Fatberg Is Getting Its Own Musical

London’s fatberg–the giant mass of congealed fat and disposed items like nappies and sanitary towels–is getting its own musical. The infamous heap of waste–which was discovered in the sewers under Whitechapel and weighs an estimated 130 tons–will be the subject of a comedy horror called Flushing Fatbergs! The mass will even be animated The musical is being produced by playwright Tilly Lunken and actress Kate Sketchley, and aims to explore our relationship with waste. In this world, humans live in the sewers and use the fatberg as a source of energy–but it also threatens their entire existence. Lunken, 29, told...

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“Jack The Ripper” Opera Will Not Glorify Sexual Violence Against Women Says ENO

The English National Opera has promised that the world premiere of a new opera about Jack the Ripper will not glorify sexual violence against women. Jack The Ripper: The Women Of Whitechapel, tells the story of “a disadvantaged group of working-class women who are drawn together in their determination to survive the murderous terror that stalks London in 1888.” Jack the Ripper, who stalked the slum streets around Whitechapel preying on prostitutes, will not be depicted on stage in the opera, composed by Iain Bell with librettist Emma Jenkins. ‘Humanity’ of victims Bell said this was in order to...

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“Reasons To Be Graeae:” A Foreword From Mat Fraser

Mat Fraser is an English rock musician, actor, writer, and performance artist who performed with Graeae’s Reasons To Be Cheerful at the 2012 London Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony. Ahead of this month’s release of Reasons To Be Graeae: A Work In Progress, Mat shares the story of how the UK’s flagship disabled-led Theatre Company changed the course of his career. My mum invited me to a play called Ubu at the Ovalhouse Theatre, South London in 1994, by a disabled theatre company called Graeae. I had “come out” as a disabled person in 1992 at thirty years old; I yearned to do something aligned with my disability politics and love of...

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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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“Five Easy Pieces”: Milo Rau’s Extraordinary Work About Child Murderer

  It’s not often that a children’s theatre features a piece about a pedophile and child murderer in its repertoire. But on rare occasions when vision, intelligence, and courage align, this kind of programming can change lives. Last week, Swiss director Milo Rau’s piece made by the commission for Ghent’s Campo theatre and dealing with the Belgian child murderer Marc Dutroux was shown at London’s Unicorn theatre for two nights. No less than nine institutions from Europe and Singapore are listed as co-producers of this extraordinary theatrical experiment which has already been on tour for a couple of years....

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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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Angels (And Demons) Of History In EgoPo’s “Lydie Breeze” Trilogy

Jessica Rizzo sees the 10-hour, marathon performance of EgoPo Theater’s Lydie Breeze trilogy and says it’s worth spending the time with John Guare’s flawed Civil War-era characters, whose tragedies, loves, jealousies, and losses are humanly relatable. The sets get a shout out as bringing the action to life, as does the atmospheric music. and Guare’s vision, rooted in the past, seems oddly relevant today. The three play marathon is a monumental accomplishment, says Rizzo. The last performance is Sunday, May 6, 2018. Philadelphia’s EgoPo Classic Theater has given John Guare’s sprawling Lydie Breeze trilogy an excellent first production as a single,...

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Women Dancers In India and UK At A Glance

Katerina Valdivia Bruch was in India as a bangaloREsident at Natya & STEM Dance Kampni. During her stay in Bangalore, she was able to attend the BENCH India, a conference on gender inequalities in the performing arts, held on February 7, 2017, at Alliance Française de Bangalore, as part of the Attakalari India Biennial. What follows is a short survey on the current situation of women dancers in India and UK, the challenges they face in their practice and the projects and/or initiatives they are involved in. Tamsin Fitzgerald How did you start with The BENCH? What moved you to create this initiative? The...

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“Mayfly” at The Orange Tree Theatre

The Orange Tree Theatre is a champion of new writing. Under artistic director Paul Miller, the venue has put on plays by excellent new writers such as Alice Birch, Alistair McDowall, Elinor Cook, Brad Birch, Zoe Cooper, Deborah Bruce and Adam Barnard. Key to the encouraging of new voices is the Orange Tree Writers Collective, which helps playwrights develop their talents. One of its graduates is Joe White, whose debut, Mayfly, is a family play that although marketed as “ethereal” is actually much more rooted than that. It also expresses a deep sense of loss. And, with its title in mind, shows how some things can change in...

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“Instructions For Correct Assembly” at The Royal Court: New British Sci-Fi Theatre

There’s a whole universe which British theatre has yet to explore properly—it’s called the sci-fi imagination. Although this place is familiar from countless films and television series, it is more or less a stranger to our stages. With notable exceptions such as Alistair McDowall’s X and Philip Ridley’s Karagula, the imaginary worlds of humanoid robots and space travel and parallel universes are rare delights so it’s great to welcome Thomas Eccleshare’s new Royal Court play, Instructions For Correct Assembly, which in its satire at first offers an intriguing mix of Westworld and Stepford Wives. And stars Jane Horrocks. Harry and his wife Max (Horrocks) live...

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Arrows And Traps: A Charming Rendition Of Chekhov’s “Three Sisters”

“To Moscow, to Moscow…” The renowned lament in Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters still manages to conjure up some of the most fundamental issues that plague our quotidian lives today. Ross McGregor’s new version of this great classic evokes the Chekhovian existential essence that troubles the Prozorov sisters: Irina, Masha, and Olga respectively. But, it’s not all too dreary, however, as the Arrow & Traps’ interpretation generates a wonderful snapshot of life in provincial Russia in a time gone by. The performers act graciously and at times manage to genuinely capture elements of the Russian mentality and soul. This is most apparent when...

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“Quiz” at Noël Coward Theatre: Towards Participatory Theatre

It’s been a golden week for James Graham, British theatre’s wonder boy. After winning an Olivier award for his comedy, Labour Of Love, he now has another show in the West End, this time a transfer from the Chichester Theatre, where it premiered last November. Always interested in historical stories that say something about our present preoccupations, this time his subject is the “coughing major” scandal that in 2001 affected ITV’s hit show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. And, like some of his other plays, Privacy and The Vote, this new one has an element of audience participation. Its subject, after all, is...

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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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