Wednesday, 28 January 2009

scoops: dollops / slices

Having only explored / played / read / thought / laughed (a lot) these past 4 Wednesday evenings throughout the month of January - 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th (v. neat) - the company has, so far, established 9 'frames' of work. Or: scenes, moments, pieces, ideas - whatever - no matter...

But the preferable term of reference was established this evening as: scoops.

The exciting thing about the 'scoops' is that they are both 'dollops' and 'slices' in the same moment. The scoop defines each frame and will allow for shaping into a slice or leaving as a dollop - between now and April.

The scoops are:

  • The Library
  • The Smoke
  • The edge of-
  • The Wax Children
  • The Poetics of Space
  • The Hamlet
  • The Chicken & Egg
  • The Playground
  • The Confession
  • The Outsider
There are actually 10 scoops, at present, but officially only 9.

9 was more preferable...

Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space (1958) was a starting point for the project / the piece / the 'big' scoop:

"Outside and inside form a dialectic of division, the obvious geometry of which blinds us as soon as we bring it into play in metaphorical domains. It has the sharpness of the dialectis of yes and no, which decides everything...

Philosophers, when confronted with outside and inside, think in terms of being and non-being. Thus profound metaphysics is rooted in an implicit geometry which - whether we will or no - confers spatiality upon thought; if a metaphysician could not draw, what would he think? Open and closed, for him, are thoughts. They are metaphors that he attaches to everything, even to his systems...

"This side" and "beyond" are faint repetitions of the dialectics of inside and outside: everything takes form, even infinity. We seek to determine being and, in so doing, transcend all situations, to give a situation of all situations."

And so: there is an exploration of notions of the following 9:

  • outside / inside
  • yes / no
  • positive / negative
  • being / non-being
  • open / closed
  • this side / beyond
  • here / there
  • concrete / vast
  • dollop / slice
A delicious 4 weeks, 9 scoops and being...

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Holocaust Memorial Day


We are smoke, invisible ash in your hair,
dust on your skin, we outstare you from photos
mute; you have to work to unravel our stories,
exhume our communities, now graves. We are mist,
your lost people, but some of us never lived nor died,
the children never born to sisters, uncles, aunts
war-torn from this family book. We are memory
- a bowl, a wedding ring, a child’s boot, all looted
but remain while we have no physical shape.
We are the past, we wrap you in provocative arms:
letters flung from cattle trucks shunting to Auschwitz
flutter like leaves; diary fragments bud underground;
a poem unfurls in a field of teeth; here 836,255 dresses
are stored in a heap, each with a story of how it
arrived. We are the missing tribe in your dreams
of feasts. We are the empty chairs, the family
trees ending suddenly, in silence. We are sighs,
a horror on the map, vomit on the tracks,
pulled through these postcard-pretty towns
to Dachau, Belzec, Belsen, Treblinka
wrapped in a prayer shawl, a rug, a mountain
of blankets, knowing we are not coming back.
We are shadows, raus, get out, schnell! We
flicker at the edges, almost glimpsed in these
grey thoughts on grey days. We are light, we
echo in this family likeness, these repercussions
through time, a ripple, history will repeat,
no, will repeat, no! We are history, a ghetto,
a factory, a labour camp, a mine; we are
ghosts, we are your missing people, we have arrived.

by Jacqueline Mézec

'Missing' was commissioned by the Holocaust Memorial Day Organising Committee (Jersey) to be read each year at the annual ceremony.

At the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony in Jersey there were several readings, including an extract from:

The Inaugural Address
President Barack Hussein Obama
Tuesday 20 January 2009

"... For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it... "



Sunday, 25 January 2009

inside: mind / body / spirit

Image: Aspasia Kralli as Teiresius

Theatre of Silence / Ex-Machina (Athens)
Seeking Oedipus (2008)
London International Mime Festival 09
  • inside / outside
  • the politics of family
  • taboos
  • the mind

National Theatre: Olivier
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour
by Tom Stoppard and André Previn (1977/2009)
[a play for actors and orchestra] with the SOUTHbank SINFONIA
  • inside / outside
  • the politics of thought
  • incarceration
  • the body
See Mark Espiner's pointer towards the range of review opinions:


“If you don’t eat for a long time you start to smell of acetone, which is the stuff girls use for taking the paint off their fingernails. When the body runs out of protein and carbohydrate it starts to metabolise its own fat, and acetone is the waste product. To put this another
way, a girl removing her nail-varnish smells of starvation.

After two months you could have moved nail-varnish with my urine…”

Image: 'Tre Donne' by Koloman Moser (1914)

Inside Intelligence
Three Women by Sylvia Plath (1962)
Jermyn Street Theatre
  • inside /outside
  • the politics of birth
  • voice poetics
  • the word
Extract from: Three Women
"Who is he, this blue, furious boy,
Shiny and strange, as if he had hurtled from a star?
He is looking so angrily!
He flew into the room, a shriek at his heel.
The blue color pales. He is human after all.
A red lotus opens in its bowl of blood;
They are stitching me up with silk, as if I were a material."
Some interesting links:

Photo: Alastair Muir

Donmar West End: Wyndham's Theatre
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
  • inside / outside
  • the politics of identity
  • melancholy
  • love and death
The most fun, and perceptively-pitched, review out there:

Photo: priya dave

Hayward Gallery
Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms
7 October 2008 - 18 January 2009
  • inside / outside
  • the politics of space
  • the room
  • a voice

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Le Ballon Rouge (1956)

In relation to OUTSIDE / INSIDE, Albert Lamorisse's 1956 multi-award-winning film offers up the following ideas and influences:
  • fantastical journeys
  • magic-realism
  • the carefree
  • symbolised dreams
  • social outcasts
  • entrapment
  • cruelty and destruction
  • fierce mobs
  • war and post-war ideologies
  • peace ideology 
  • cluster ballooning
  • freedom and space
  • earthbound and airbound
Philip Kennicott's review in The Washington Post on 23 November 2007 provides a critical development and counter-point to all other reviews. Review extract:
"... Lamorisse's Paris is basically photographer Eugene Atget's glistening and empty city peopled by characters straight out of the old "Madeline" children's books. It doesn't exist, it didn't exist in 1956, and it probably never existed, except in carefully constructed French fantasies. And Lamorisse's vision of peasant life in the South of France, in the Camargue, never existed either. These films take place in a world of lies.

Innocent lies? Not necessarily. "The Red Balloon" may be the most seamless fusion of capitalism and Christianity ever put on film. A young boy invests in a red balloon, the love of which places him on the outside of society. The balloon is hunted down and killed on a barren hilltop -- think Calvary -- by a mob of cruel boys. The ending, a bizarre emotional sucker punch, is straight out of the New Testament.

Thus is investment rewarded -- with Christian transcendence or, at least, an old-fashioned Assumption..."

So does the medium of film and theatre; the novel and poems; the song and composition; the painting and installation; the television and radio; the news and blogging; et al: falsely, subconsciously, quite consciously... sensationalise, romanticise, stereotype, distort, deceive, re-enforce... the politics, the event, the story, the images, the words, the happening?



But maybe not in a red balloon...

Monday, 12 January 2009

outside / inside

A sound formed as we
stood outside of it and

we heard everything    we feel


silence threaded
through the centre
of a note    droning

this day was a dive through membranes

or through light—

the very boundary
that bounds
around— a girl soft as trapped light crying
there’s more inside me than nouns

a border poured from sound
her fingers lit the very edge of it
how did we
find our—

selves inside
her? inside this


inside the word    stretched
across the edge of

the edge of—


Sunday, 4 January 2009

Friday 4 January 2019 ...

Having seen 29 of our 60 performances, and having said our farewells this afternoon at the children's party, I am reminded of our starting point in conceiving a staging of Beauty and Beast - Outsiders:
  • The Beast
  • Cyrano de Bergerac
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • The Invisible Man
  • King Kong
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • Superheroes
Over 16,400 people have seen the show over the past 6 weeks and the 60 performances, and it is incredible that the vast, vast majority enjoyed the fact that it operated on many, many levels and that it was 'sophisticated', 'intelligent', 'layered' - not my words.

Theatres can be dark, noisy places and some 2-3 year olds may have been too scared - the Beast is a scary being - but how can any performance appeal to all 2-99 year olds alike?

"...this incredible piece of theatre...' said Julie Watterston in her review (see 'our stage review' link on the post dated 29 December 2008) and, in retrospect, for a Christmas show (which isn't a pantomime) it is: it was.

Perhaps the most challenging production to date, logistically, but the one with some of the most artistic rewards.

I was asked, by a young person, after the final performance in the foyer today: "Did you make it?" I was actually confused for a moment, and so the question had to be repeated - "Did you make it?" - because I didn't know whether there was a genuine contemporary awareness of 'this making process' or whether there was a beautiful child-like understanding of 'the making of things'. It was both; it was inspiring...

On the connected theme of  'outsiders', this leads into L'Etranger (1942) by Albert Camus which I began reading, in a translation by Jospeh Laredo (1982), yesterday, for the next project.

There is something very funny - psychologically - though haunting about the following as Meursault is called to stand vigil over his dead mother. Meursault is talking about how the Caretaker at his mother's 'home' greets him:
"Then he shook my hand and held it for so long that I didn't quite know how to take it back again."
As I read this, cups were dropped on the tea shop floor, shattering concentration but creating an exhileratingly, dramatic sound that somehow lent itself to the outside/inside motif. Tea was spilt and splashed everywhere - and silence fell upon the splintering sound.

A 10-year-reunion has been planned for the Beauty and Beast Company at South Hill Park on Friday 4 January 2019; it will be great for everyone to touch base at that time and tell their stories...

So, to the next story, and more on Camus perhaps, in:

Outside / Inside ...

Thursday, 1 January 2009

'Seeing' in the New Year?

Extracts from:
John Berger's Ways of Seeing 
(Penguin: London, 1972) - 37 years ago!

"Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak."

"But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight..."

"The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe..."

"We only see what we look at. To look is an act of choice..."

"We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves..."

"An image is a sight which has been recreated or reproduced. It is an appearance, or set of appearances, which has been detached from the place and time in which it first made its appearance and preserved..."

"The visual arts have always existed within a certain preserve; originally this preserve was magical or sacred. But it was also physical: it was the place, the cave, the building, in which, or for which, the work was made. The experience of art, which at first was the experience of ritual, was set apart from the rest of life - precisely in order to be able to exercise power over it...."

"For the first time ever, images of art have become ephemeral, ubiquitous, insubstantial, available, valueless, free. They surround us in the same way as a language surrounds us. They have entered the mainstream of life over which they no longer, in themselves, have power..."

"The art of the past no longer exists as it once did. Its authority is lost. In its place there is a language of images. What matters now is who uses that language for what purpose..."

"A people or a class which is cut off from its own past is far less free to choose and to act as a people or class than one that has been able to situate itself in history..."

"Capitalism survives by forcing the majority, whom it exploits, to define their own interests as narrowly as possible. This was once achieved by extensive deprivation. Today in the developed countries it is being achieved by imposing a false standard of what is and what is not desirable."