Theatre and Culture from Scotland, starring The List's Theatre Editor, his performance persona and occasional guest stars. Experimental writings, cod-academic critiques and all his opinions, stolen or original.
Monday, 29 October 2012
Arts Poker: What we saw last week...
Welcome to the first weekly Vile Arts Poker Contest. The rules are simple, because I am making them up as we go along,and fixing them so I win. Today's competitors are Gareth K Vile and Eric Karoulla - reigning champion and young pretender. Welcome Eric.
Why thank you for having me, Gareth. I'm not entirely sure about this competition, sir.
The rules are that you get to pick three arts events that you have seen in the past month. And we pit them against each other, to see who saw the best stuff and has the best taste.
Ooh, sounds like fun! However, you are a judge and a competitor, so how is this fair? Best taste is subjective - going back to your favourite argument about radical subjectivity - but isn't it always about what we can get tickets to?
Don't mention that. Anyway, you can go first. Tell me about something you've seen, and give a quick, spirited description...
Sonata For A Man and A Boy was quite exciting! Not only the exploration of the relationship between a music teacher and a student, but also an examination of what it is to be an adult - in this case, a grown man - and what it is to be a child.
Saw that at the Macrobert, in Stirling. I think it's heading to the Traverse next month.
Okay, so did this have music in it? The sonata suggests that there would be some... and what did you like about it, apart from it mirroring our friendship - with me as the music teacher, of course.
Yes, there was live music - the two played solos and duets on the cello. It was quite fascinating to see how they went from two separate instruments, to playing on the same one, when their 'voices' were in harmony with each other.
So what was it all about? And how did the music reflect the story?
Well, the narrative started off with a grown man - played by Greg Sinclair - playing with wooden figurines, and asking "Are you ready?". This phrase was used multiple times for various things, like the beginning of the 'class'. The story itself didn't really develop as a linear evolution - it essentially showed moments where a man behaves more like a boy, and a boy behaves more like a man. At some point, the boy puts on the man's blazer and takes over the role of teacher.
As for the music, it was a sonata played over and over again - like a practice tune at a music lesson. It helped the story move along mainly through the role reversal, since both of them prove equally capable of playing the intricate melody.
Well, as far as music and performance goes, I'm raising you Marc Brew's Fusional Fragments... Brew's superb choreography allied with Dame Evelyn Glennie. The dancers took their cues from Glennie's wild live drumming - she paced the stage like a wild, matriarchal deity, provoking heads to nod in the audience and casting Brew's ballet-influenced movements as an atavistic, tribal ecstasy.
For music, I will put in PSB - Public Service Broadcasting - who played in Nice 'n' Sleazy's last week. They were phenomenal. They didn't even speak! All and any sound was produced from either the synthesizer they had, or the assortment of instruments - including a banjo - they had brought along.
Meanwhile, they didn't really have to perform anything aside from the music, since they had brought with them clips of films that matched to their War Room EP. Dark music, but it really sat well with its theme!
Also, do you actually know what 'atavistic' means, Vile?
It means a biological throwback - like the slight tail I have at the base of my spine. That's why i don't like performances that last more than an hour - it hurts if I sit on it...
If we are going pure music, I raise you Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers. Nearly three hours of loud, fast and rocking Japanese drumming. from the first professional Taiko group in the UK. They had their teacher over, so we got a few sips from the source - he pulled out this drum that was wired up to sound like a bass guitar, and got into a serious improvisation jam with his student.
That covers both of your shows I think - a student/teacher relationship played out in performance of music, some seriously heavy beats... and they explained a little about the music, too. Mugenkyo are beautifully tough, too: there is something almost military about their precision,and melodramatic in the way they switch drums and bang hell out of the beats. When the percussion starts to find a melody, it's astounding... I was transported to another place... tribal energy strikes again...
Meanwhile, I got to the Frock On Frock Off Sunday Bizarre, at the glue factory, which involved plenty of live art interaction, as well as screenings of three short films by Lock Up Your Daughters. It was quite a fun day, with varying tones, ranging from Foxy's (of Foxy & Husk) emotive miming to a chat about consent with Harry Giles. Also, present was Ian Nulty with his Sauna persona!
Prior to the Olympiad, there was a Query Queery discussion, which allowed us to debate what it was to be a member of the LGBTQ society and whether or not the Q was relevant.
I think you do win, and I regret missing that:Tranny and Roseannah were great fun on our show last week, and although I caught one night of the cabaret - with great acts - I had the feeling that it was part of a broader agenda.
It seems as if Frock Frock Off was uniting queer sexuality with what I would call "queer performance" - not in any sexual sense, but just in the sense of being other. It's an ambition project, and sending a day on it would be far more profitable than just one evening - when I reviewed the show, I felt that it was pointing to something. Whereas you went to the source.
Well, looks like I can't win even when I make up the rules. Your prize is... a delicious baked potato I made in the microwave.