Friday, May 30, 2014

On the Move

Next week, my monologue End of Species has been invited to the Ignite Festival Exeter, and the Cardiff International Festival of Performance. Hopefully there will be an opportunity to write on some of these events, and some from the London International Festival of Theatre on the way back to Berlin.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Berlin Biennale

Together with Sonja Hornung, I was a guest writer for the Berlin Biennale on 27th May.

We penned this dialogue over at ArtSlant.

Theatertreffen round-up

My Theatertreffen round-up was published over at A Younger Theatre.

It feels like the event has reached some kind of precipice - it will be interesting to see which way it goes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Theatertreffen: Die letzten Zeugen (The Final Witnesses)

Only in Germany.

This was my thought for most of the duration of Die letzten Zeugen - a 2.5 hour long performance about the Holocaust, followed by 1.5 hours of forums with the survivors. Only in Germany, I thought, would this be on a stage and called theatre. Anywhere else, it's a lecture.

Actually, this play, performed in Berlin as part of the jury-selected section of Theatertreffen, is not German - it's Austrian. The stories of seven Holocaust survivors from Vienna, sent to the camps at Auschwitz and Dachau, are told by actors, while the survivors sit in the background listening (again) to their stories. Director Matthias Hartmann has placed emphasis squarely on the stories themselves, removing almost anything that might be considered direction, save for a solitary writer sitting centre-stage who transcribes as the actors speak. There's an oddly formal process, too, for when the actor's story finished and they exit the stage, escorted by the actor who voiced them.

Anywhere else, and on any other topic, such earnestness would be considered parody. Here, it serves as a kind of respectfully light touch, privileging  the dignity of the survivors over the audience's comfort or attention span. The moments are not crafted, but given the full stage, save for some supporting projections, to breathe.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Theatertreffen - There Has Possibly Been An Incident

EDIT - On account of the depth of other critical writing about this show, I have written fairly dialectical criticism here. For a more in-depth description of the nuts and bolts of the play I recommend Catherine Love's review over at Exeunt here.


Are we living in a time when the ability to stand out from the crowd has been demonised? If so, are we left with just conformity?

Today, reality, as structured by language, is built on a combination of xenophobia (particularly anti-muslim sentiment), a nihilistic catastrophe fetish played and replayed by the media, embedded twins of patriarchy and capitalism, and of course, our old friend distraction, which deters the pursuit of these things. The most powerful narratives of our time exploit these for political gain. They are, mostly, sites of fear and oppression, and key generators of conformity. Today, the individual is so tied to the institution it is difficult to gain enough distance to look at it, and what it is doing.

There Has Possibly Been An Incident, performed as part of one of Germany's largest theatre institutions, Theatertreffen, addresses this reality and tries to find the language to shatter it.

We enter the theatre to a rock track too loud over the PA and performers busy at work setting up the stage with tape and microphones. Already there's a sense that we're going to work. The actors sit and begin to read, throwing their finished pages away as though language itself is dying as it is spoken. There is a bomb under this show - it's gun-to-the-head theatre.