Thursday, June 19, 2014

The logic of 'cutting small'

The rationale behind cutting support for small arts organisations and upholding larger, more unwieldy institutions has never seemed logical to me. It doesn't work in the world outside of the arts, where small business is seen as having an important role to play in employment and general well-being of a society. Why governments feel it's necessary to apply a different logic to the arts mystifies me, apart from the natioanlistic motivation of having 'flagship' arts organisations which are seen as important to uphold at (least) an appearance of culture.

Of course, the logic of cutting arts can always itself be challenged.

The mobility and versatility of the International Performance Festival Cardiff seemed from the outset its strong point, with curator/director James Tyson generating a program that was able to focus on internationality and mobility whilst staying small. Not only does this have only a fraction of the cost of a national theatre, the gifts it gives are not necessarily less fruitful.

Full interview with James published over at A Younger Theatre, available here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

LIFT: Super Premium Soft Double Vanilla Rich

 I was a brief, unofficial guest of the London International Festival of Theatre, which runs 3-19 June at various locations.


It was a shock to find that this show, brought to the festival by chelfitsch, Japan, had left me with nothing, perhaps even less than nothing.

After all, the elements are there. Super Premium Soft Double Vanilla Rich is a stylised, absurd piece of - I'm going to call it 'movement theatre' - that takes a convenience store as its central metaphor for human existence. The absurdity of convenience stores, and employment of them to illuminate the human being's capacity to willingly succumb to dehumanisation, has been pointed out in material as diverse as Kevin Smith's Clerks and Andres Gursky's 99 Cent. The material elements of this dehumanisation are obvious and plenty - neon lights, brightly coloured packaging setting up a power relationship with the spectator, the various control mechanisms in place which seem to coercively determine habit without ever rendering itself visible - the entire functioning of language in this space - like a form of new-age propaganda.