Articles Comments

David Porter » Entries tagged with "theatre"

Forgotten

Forgotten by Stuff of Dreams Theatre Company at the Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 23 April 2016 and The Lowestoft Journal, 29 April 2016 Forgotten is a play about Suffolk poet and ‘self-improver’ George Crabbe, who told tales of the East Anglian coast and its people but who’s been neglected by history. His major poem Peter Grimes which runs through Crabbe’s creative mind and the play was reworked by Benjamin Britten in his more famous opera, yet it stands as his legacy of fine story-in-verse of the turbulent 1750s to early 1800s in England and beyond. Stuff of Dreams are a Norfolk-Suffolk based ensemble who offer platforms for new stage writing. Ray Rumsby’s study is a complex, tightly drawn reflection of Crabbe’s style of keenly observing poor people, capturing … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reviews

Oh What a Lovely War!

Oh What a Lovely War! Theatre Royal Youth Company at The Garage, Norwich Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 5 December 2014 The Garage is an ideal setting for this Youth Company and Joan Littlewood’s ironic classic a perfect vehicle in this WW1 centenary. That it shocks while it entertains is a testament equally to the devised material from 1963, looking back on 1914-18 through eyes that had experienced 1939-45 and to the skill of this young ensemble. Brechtian-style information slides drive home the futility of trench warfare with losses on a jaw dropping scale. The pierrot show format gives the humour full rein and original wartime songs make it a variety show with a compelling message. I’ll Make a Man of Any One of You, Hitchy-Koo, Goodbyee, Gassed Last Night, Kaiser Bill, They Were … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reviews

That Is All You Need to Know

That Is All You Need to Know Idle Motion at Norwich Playhouse Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 30 September 2014 With strong visual staging, young theatre group Idle Motion brought a tribute to the secrets of the wartime Code and Cipher unit at Bletchley Park to Norwich. Using physicality, clever projections to move events and multiroling, the cast explored the significance of the ground-breaking thinking which helped end the war. That Is All You Need to Know summed up the philosophy that ‘careless talk costs lives’ which stayed with many Bletchley workers for decades after. In our instant click-and-share world that seems astonishing. The considered and thoughtful piece told the story in Brecht-influenced docu-drama style of how code-breaking teams were put together, including Gordon Welchman whose book was later frowned upon by the security … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reviews

Love Left Hanging

Stuff of Dreams Theatre Company at St George’s Theatre, Gt Yarmouth Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 20 April 2013 The notorious Maria Marten barn murder at Polstead, Suffolk for which William Corder was hanged, still excites controversy, films and melodramas galore. However, this take by new and upcoming Stuff of Dreams Theatre offers the few facts and looks at the lies, deceptions and other likely culprits to ask the audience who it finds guilty. Policing was young in the early 19th century, forensics unborn. ‘It’s not what you see or are told, but what is branded in your mind’ persuades people now as then. Co-writer and Artistic Director Cordelia Spence weaves a clever narrative, moving from jury room to tragic village, with a puppet as a child, some powerful physical theatre and hanging … Read entire article »

Filed under: Reviews

All the World Can Act On the Smallest Stage in the World

Shakespeare said all the world’s a stage; all the men and women merely players. But today in Britain the smallest theatres prove that size isn’t everything.   Great Britain is blessed with a huge variety of very small theatres in all manner of unlikely, original places. Peter Brook wrote in The Empty Space (1968): ‘I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and that’s all that’s needed for an act of theatre’. Churches Make Theatre Many minute spaces are conversions from previous buildings, like Holy Trinity Halls, Wimbledon (Polka Children’s Theatre), old maltings (The Cut, Halesworth), former corn mill (Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Berkshire), Salvation Army Hall (The Theatre, Chipping Norton), armoury for the Border Light Horse Brigade (Wynd … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Puppets and Performers on Stage Together Creating Reality

Even when actors manipulate puppets in front of audiences, the puppet comes alive, absorbing, compelling, believable. It’s a powerful dramatic device. ‘Puppet’ has been a useful English language word for centuries. Some kind of political leader installed by a more powerful force is often referred to as ’puppet government’ or ‘puppet regime’. The term, broadened out, means simply anyone weaker controlled by somebody stronger: a puppet, pulled by strings at the behest of a controller. Some have it that ‘poppet’, meaning a term of affection for another, as in ‘pet’, ‘doll’ or ‘dear’, is from the same root. It is a representation of a person, a kind of surrogate human-being, which on stage can be extremely moving, unpleasant, sinister or comic. Puppets are, in fact, a very ancient theatrical form. Historic, Cultural Puppet … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

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 »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

Verbatim Theatre Speaks for Itself Loud and Clear

‘Verbatim’ is a kind of documentary theatre in which drama is made from the precise words spoken by people in evidence, witnessing or remembering. Verbatim originated in the USA in the 1930s’ Depression where a federally funded program, Living Newspaper Project, set actors sifting daily newspapers to create theatre to inform and motivate audiences. Owing something to Brecht, it later influenced Augusto Boal in Brazil and Joan Littlewood in Britain. In 1965, Peter Weiss in Germany wrote The Investigation which publishers Marion Boyars described as: ‘a dramatic reconstruction of the Frankfurt War Crimes trials, based on actual evidence’. Weiss edited extracts from testimonies ‘concerning Auschwitz and the atrocities enacted there’ into a dramatic document ‘that relies solely and completely on facts for its effectiveness’. There is no dramatic writing, no manipulation of facts/figures. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

British Theatre Is Not The Sole Terrain of the Middle Class

The debate about British theatre accessibility is old, but actually misses the point. Performing arts cross all class barriers & genres to survive and grow. A sketch in the 1960s’ British satirical TV series That Was The Week That Was, showed three comedians in height order, representing upper, middle and lower classes. The middle one looked up to the upper; down to the lower, who looked up to both. Some might argue little has changed, Britain, is still class-ridden. That class influences the arts in general and performance in particular, surprises few. Typical Audience Profile Mintel reported in October 2010 that British performing arts are the domain of the middle classes, despite schemes to make audiences more diverse. The National Theatre, among others, tried subsidised tickets for young people, but there is concern, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101

If UK Politics are Pure Theatre, Politicians are the Performers

  There are political performances, theatre as politics and the politics of theatre. But there is also politics as pure theatre, good value entertainment. Roll up, roll up for the greatest piece of taxpayer-funded performance theatre outside the West End or the three-ring circus. It’s the arena, the bear-pit that is the British House of Commons and other small stages in and without the village of Westminster, so beloved of politicos through the ages. Usually without the singing and dancing, such performance leads some people to wonder about the wisdom of both allowing and paying for public ‘torture’. In 1978 British parliamentary sketch writer Norman Shrapnel published The Performers: Politics as Theatre, in which he said: ‘Parliament as theatre is a conception some find distasteful …. even the most histrionic of our politicians … Read entire article »

Filed under: Articles at Suite 101