Category Archives: Comment

On Midsummer Mischief, Part Three – Places Other

*Published on Exeunt*

I miss The Other Place.

Now, that’s a strange thing to say considering I have never actually set foot in any building called The Other Place, in Stratford or otherwise. But, like everyone who has any sort of connection with the RSC, its presence has always been keenly felt during my years visiting the company.

First, a bit of history. Continue reading On Midsummer Mischief, Part Three – Places Other

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On Midsummer Mischief, Part Two – Feminism(s)

*Published on Exeunt*

“I’ve fucking cracked it…”

At the beginning of one scene in Alice Birch’s Revolt. She said. Revolt again, an actor begins to try to articulate her newfound theory on the world and its problems. She starts to speak, but is immediately interrupted by someone else. Throughout the next ten minutes, as a dizzy spectacle of sketches happens around her, she struggles to put her ideas into words. Then, just as everything seems to be dropping off a cliff of insanity, she speaks one of the most startling, poetic and honest feminist critiques I’ve heard.

This theme of language and its pitfalls runs throughout Birch’s piece (and, to varying degrees, throughout the other three plays in the Midsummer Mischief season), as the play attempts to come to terms with the way our structures of speech and writing reinforce and perpetuate sexism. Continue reading On Midsummer Mischief, Part Two – Feminism(s)

On Midsummer Mischief, Part One – Collaboration

There’s a bit of a revolution going on at the RSC.

Those are words I never thought I’d write.

I use that qualifier “bit of” for a reason, because this is not a whole-scale, violent insurgency. Erica Whyman’s Midsummer Mischief season is a lot more subtle than that. But for the first time in my RSC-going experience, it feels like there’s a counter to the mainstage fare in Stratford, working in tandem with and in opposition to the prevailing ideology. Continue reading On Midsummer Mischief, Part One – Collaboration

“Let The Right One In”, “Under The Skin”, and Scotland

April Fool’s Day is a joke. It seems the only people who even care about the whole sorry charade are those working in the media, and even then they do so with a listlessness and lack of conviction. This year, however, was one of the worst I remember. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of stories this year took aim at the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence, with everyone from The Daily Mail to The Guardian joining in on the ‘fun’. What’s so sad about this, however, is that it is demonstrative of the lack of genuine debate in England about this huge, important thing which is looming and which could bring with it massive changes in identity, economy and government. The plethora of April Fool’s stories about the notion of Scottish independence highlight the extent to which our media view it as just that: a joke. Continue reading “Let The Right One In”, “Under The Skin”, and Scotland

NT:Live and Kicking

One of the most interesting sessions I attended at Devoted and Disgruntled last month was a provocation by Tassos Stevens of Coney: “Can technology in theatre ever be playful?” Inevitably, National Theatre Live came up, but the focus was slightly different to the usual debates about streamed theatre’s effect on the theatrical ecology. Instead, we spoke about its effect on an audience and the way in which it effects the theatrical experience.

All of these thoughts were bubbling through my head when I sat down to watch the Donmar’s Coriolanus at my local theatre last week. It was my eighth NT:Live experience, only three of those visits had been to streams of productions I hadn’t yet seen Continue reading NT:Live and Kicking

Between Darkness and Light

*Originally written with Catherine Love for Exeunt*

Dan: About halfway through this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Andrew Haydon tweeted the following:

“I’m writing a piece about critiques versus hope in theatre. Who prefers what?”

Now, this is clearly a false dichotomy and as far as I can tell the vast majority of responders – including myself – suggested that, ideally, we’d like both. Nonetheless, the question sets up an interesting argument: are the two compatible, and, if we had to choose only one, which would we prefer?

It’s a question which seems to have been asked by many of the artists I saw at the festival this year, and as far as I’m concerned most seemed to plump for the latter. We’ll obviously go into more detail, but just as a quick run down, Wot? No Fish?There Has Possibly Been an IncidentThe Bloody Great Border Ballad Project, How To Occupy an Oil Rig, The Islanders, The Events, Bonanzawhat happens to the hope at the end of the evening and even L’apres-midi d’un foehn all dealt with hope in some way, either implicitly or explicitly.  Continue reading Between Darkness and Light

“The Bloody Great Border Ballad Project” – A Conversation

*Originally written with Catherine Love for Exeunt*

Dan: In the opening address to audiences of The Bloody Great Border Ballad ProjectLorne Campbell attempts to convey his own internal struggle when considering the question of the referendum of Scottish independence next year. He initially began as leaning towards being anti-independence, but after talking to other artists and friends, he realised it wasn’t as simple as he thought, causing him to enter a state of confusion about the whole thing. Now, a few months down the line, as this massive, knotty, crazy idea gains traction, he realises he is just as confused. But it’s “a higher quality of confusion”.

And, to me, this is what makes The Bloody Great Border Ballad Project so special, inhabiting a position far more interesting and exciting than Tim Price’s I’m With the Band. Continue reading “The Bloody Great Border Ballad Project” – A Conversation