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David Porter » Entries tagged with "commedia dell’Arte"

The Happening Was the Progenitor of Performance Art

  Installations, Events, Happenings, Environments were favoured by 1950/60s art and drama students: just kids having a laugh, or claim to a serious artform? The term ‘happening’, as in ‘what’s happening, man?’ was a very 1960s one. In fact, it described a particular form of performance theatre arising from and fusing with visual arts. It’s not fully understood in contemporary performance circles, but The Happening was instrumental in paving the way for performance art to be an artform in its own right. It was an ‘event’ or ‘situation’ sometimes billed as ‘art in random places’ (empty shops, old houses, warehouses, streets), with little linear narrative, but reliance on mixed art forms with the audience frequently involved, willingly or not. Scope for improvisation (much as Commedia dell’Arte actors did in the 16th … Read entire article »

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Protest Theatre Is Everywhere: Past, Present and Future

Protest by performance is as old as mankind. It seems that In an age of future conformity, there’ll always be protesters somewhere breaking boundaries. What artists in all genres choose to protest about/against, how they seek to effect change, is open to different interpretations, from geographical to racial, from historical to social and from environmental to economic. After the 1960s, Bob Dylan denied his songs were part of the protest movement (war, nuclear bomb, drugs, youth), yet clearly, songs like Maggie’s Farm, Blowin’ in the Wind, Hurricane, Oxford Town, With God On Our Side, for instance, convey messages strong enough to stir emotion against injustice and prejudice. That is just what protest theatre does, whether it be on stage, in song/dance, through paintings, movies or speeches declaimed like Martin Luther King’s 1963, … Read entire article »

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Hippodrome Circus, Yarmouth: Historic, Cultural, Showbiz Palace

A unique, custom-built circus at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK appeals equally to nostalgists, historians, and lovers of all-round family entertainment. ‘Hippodrome’ is from the Greek, meaning a stadium for horse/chariot racing, equivalent to the Roman circus. It was neither amphitheatre (sports, games), nor theatre as such. Over the years many British theatres and places of general entertainment were named Hippodrome. The one at Great Yarmouth is a circus. Standing just off the seafront, surrounded by the somewhat run-down faded glory of seaside entertainments and catering, the magnificent edifice of the Hippodrome rises up, proud and welcoming. The Theatres Trust calls it a “building of outstanding importance”, pointing out there are only two purpose-built permanent circuses in Britain (the other is Blackpool Tower Circus) still in full working order, and probably only four or … Read entire article »

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Stand-Up Comedy Is Alive, Well and Flourishing in the UK

Heard the one about stand-up enjoying a rebirth in Britain? Well, it’s no joke, it’s true. In hard times, people need laughter and comics are bringing it. 2010‘s Royal Variety Show saw more stand-up comedians on the bill than anyone can remember. This, along with shows devoted to the genre on British TV, rising popularity of cruise ship entertainment and the growth of corporate comedy, confirms that solo comics working crowds with gag after gag, are ever popular. Stand-up comedians, whether the natural clown in a classroom, at work or out for the night, or the jester who entertained the royal court in days gone by, telling people how foolish life is, are vital. Nonetheless, it’s a difficult performing art because everybody’s humour is unique. Humour is not only personal, it varies regionally … Read entire article »

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La Cuchina dell’Arte

Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 4 May 2006 La Cuchina dell’Arte If you love circus in all its forms, ancient and modern, this one is for your collection. It’s unique. Comedy without a safety net. The food-service industry without the hygiene. Set in a kitchen-cum-restaurant, a straight-man chef and his hapless sidekick in big shoes invite two members of the audience on stage and make them pizza. Inevitably it turns out to be a burnt offering. Directly inspired by vaudeville coming out of commedia dell’Arte, film makers and mimers, they cavort in magical physical nonsense. It takes real skill to clown, drop plates and spin plates while taking audience orders and spin dough till it flies through the air. But it takes a special skill to make it look easy. From the … Read entire article »

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