Pilot – a mixed bag

September 17, 2007 by

Pilot #12 went down well on Thursday night, the audience was almost full, and people seemed to be enjoying themselves on the whole.  The performances were, as ever, a mixed bag.  The number of applicants for this event, and the breadth, style, and level of maturity of the material both proposed and performed shows the need for events like this.  And also for several events like this, to allow for Pilot to show the slightly higher calibre of w-i-p, but for there to still be support and an event for work being made by artists fresh out of training (which would necessarily be ‘younger’).

My highlight was Edward Rapley’s performance (the company is called the Licensees).  It was incredibly bold and brave, stripped back and actually honest.  He threw a jug of water over the audience, and everyone was glad of it, and finished by "offering himself as a sacrifice" and jumping off the top of a ladder.  It was hilarious.  The funniest thing for me was that he was friends with my younger brother at school, and used to come round my house as a kid.  Small world.


Forced Entertainment Fest

May 9, 2007 by


I gorged myself on Forced Entertainment treats a few weeks ago, both showing as part of the Spill Festival in London.  First up was ‘Exquisite Pain’ from a text by Sophie Calle: over 2 hours of one woman telling the same story again and again – sounds painful – but actually very engaging.  Her story of being stood up in a hotel room in Delhi by her boyfriend, who’s woosed out of joining her with the excuse of an infected finger (really he’s started seeing someone else), is interspersed by other people’s stories of when they had suffered the most pain in their lives.  These are told by the male performer, there are only 2 performers on stage, and they both utilise the studied FE style of antiperformative, presentational delivery.  Fascinating and moving at times, I can still remember almost all the details from the woman’s story (well I did hear it about 40 times!)

Second was ‘And on the Thousandth Night’, a six hour durational performance.  I didn’t stay for the whole thing, but dipped in and out twice.  I think quite a lot of the audience did stay for the whole lot, and actually if I’d brought a picnic (like the performers onstage) I’d have been happy to sit through it in its entirety.  The 9 or so performers sit on chairs in a line at the front of stage wearing home-made cardboard crowns and makeshift red velvet robes.  They start stories, and are interrupted by another performer with "stop", who then start their own story, and the pattern continues.  They vary the pace, the subject matter, comic and tragic both get a look in.  Sometimes performers follow on from each other in subject matter, idea or character; sometimes they tell the same story but from a different perspective; sometimes they go doggedly back to a story they were trying to tell earlier.  By the final hour, they’d all cracked open a beer, and were at that slightly hysterical stage that you get to at the end of a party – 3am, tired, drunk but sobering up, having deep conversations interspersed with hysterical giggling.  There was a relaxed acknowledgment between performers and audience, and it felt like everyone was having a laugh together.  FE may now have spawned hundreds of copycat shows by graduates who’ve studied them at University, but it doesn’t make what they do any less engaging, clever, and downright dedicated.

IOU’s new performance ‘Waylaid’

April 2, 2007 by

We saw the first performance of this show in Halifax, we had to wear headphones, it was very white.  It all took place in a specially made white inflatable big top thing.  There was some crazy construction, including a man/beetle combo who appeared out of the bonnet of an upturned car – all a bit like some kind of bad, lucid, car crash induced dream (which I think was the idea).

Breathing Space

March 20, 2007 by

We jumped in the car and drove down to Bristol on Saturday 10th March, for Breathing Space, a day of what we affectionately call ‘Live Arse’ (Live Art). The event was a co-commission of Arnolfini’s,
which was the venue in Bristol we were headed for. It’s been recently refurbished, and is a great chunk of a building right on the dock side, with lots of very swish (if a little sterile) exhibition spaces. The staff were all very warm, helpful and smiley though, which made up for the clean whiteness of the place.

Here are the shows we caught:

Duncan Speakman – Sounds from Above the Ground
An audio walk around Bristol. In a group of 6 we follow a lone walker, who keeps his back to us, through the streets of the city. He speaks into a microphone, and we all pick up the radio signal on our headphones. Somehow he also mixes in soundscape, and repeats and mixes in live sounds. The story is intruiging, about him standing in the middle of the city and shouting last night, so that physical marks are left for us to find today. It doesn’t really go anywhere though, and to be honest I’m pretty distracted by the sunny weather, and all the artsy markets we’re walking through. I think we must look like a bunch of cyborgs: we’re all wearing earpieces, walking together without ever looking at each other or speaking to each other, and we all happen to be wearing smart suitish jackets.

Until Thursday – It’s a Question of Taste
This sounded a bit dire and totally inscrutable in the blurb on the flyer, but we booked anyway.
It took place in the theatre auditorium, and was actually rather wonderful. Clever, funny, political, silly, it was well performed and well received. It was presented in a lecture style, using a powerpoint presentation of occasional headings and loads of photos (mostly rubbish shots of horrible looking meals). The premise was that the 2 performers were contracted by a restaurant review website to visit New York and Brussels and write reviews on the food they ate there (hence the photos of meals). In actuality, this formed a small part of the show, with more of the emphasis on the pair’s relationship with each other, reflections on their travels, comment on America and its foreign policy, and a description of their visit to Ground Zero (which they both describe as "boring – there was nothing there, not even a candyfloss stall").
It inspired me and Jane to think that we might be able to use some of the material we collected from our Helsinki overground trip to make a show. We’d considered this before, but I hadn’t thought of using it as a jumping off point for making larger observations on ourselves/the countries we travelled through/politics etc.

Grace Surman
This was a video piece, animation. Quite surrealist.

Yara El-Sherbini – Pub Quiz
A themed quiz, with questions about other cultures, ethnic minorities, and their relationship with British culture.
Was a more interesting quiz than the ones I usually play (less about football and 80s one hit wonders), but didn’t seem to have anything particularly ‘performative’ about it. To be fair, we didn’t stay till the end, so maybe we missed something.

A good day overall. We really liked the Arnolfini, and were pleasantly surprised by the work we saw.

New activity! Professional development project posts


I’ve found a new reason to blog. As part of a programme of professional development for myself and Jane (as Artistic Directors of The Other Way Works) funded by Arts Council England, we’re off to see some theatre performances.

We’ll be travelling the country, and having one foray into europe, to see some hopefully inspiring performances.

I’ll be blogging about what we see here, and what I thought.