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Review Bucket List, Theatre Ad Infinitum, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

When we think of a Bucket List, it tends to be what we want to do before our final ending.

Full of ideas of endings, Bucket List at the Battersea Arts Centre takes on a fictional tale which is very much transferable to modern day.

Based in Mexico, we meet a little girl who goes through a traumatic short life. Basing it upon political issues between the USA and Mexico, we see many disastrous events from pollution of Mexico, to the corrupt ‘policia’ with suspicious deaths, rape and drug use. Milagros witnesses all these awful and terrible events and decides after finding out that she is dying, that those responsible must pay.

A small group of performers, all female, bring a strong cast to this stage. Ranging in ages, each of them present such interesting and energetic performances. The main cast double up on characters which are seamless and well- constructed – ranging from children to adults to different genders. To help with this, occasionally a prop or piece of costume is used but while this aesthetic is welcomed, it isn’t always necessary.

My only issue with this was with accents – throughout the production it was evident that the English native speakers were able to adopt a Mexican accent, but for whatever reason chose not to for some main characters and when changing to another accent, managed this with no issue. It was slightly confusing when this became a revelation as it felt slightly inconsistent.

What struck me however was the level and grace of the physical theatre involved. Much of the production used this technique to change places, to represent different events and feelings and it was fantastic. The performers had so much energy, were able to move seamlessly and almost seemingly with little effort and this as a performance itself was as intriguing as the narrative.

Live music and singing was also a great addition – a simple drum set and percussionist providing some of the background and a guitarist and phenomenal singer at times providing a singing narrative, becoming the corrupt characters in her androgynous style, made this production a little bit more special than it already was.

Bucket List is raw, exhilarating, intelligent and fantastic. And with the current political situation in America and Mexica, very poignant and modern.

https://www.bac.org.uk/content/42644/whats_on/whats_on/shows/bucket_list

F.E.A.R. by Mr & Mrs Clark, a review by Helen Joy

F.E.A.R.

An autobiographical tour of the constructed fear that society, religion and family place onto young shoulders.

Mr & Mrs Clark

There is someone in front of me who is bored, who doesn’t like it. There is much loud huffing and shrugging. But as far as I can tell, everyone else is in thrall to this captivating performance. Most of us are about the same age as Mr Clark and he is describing us. To a tee.

These are our fears too. Nostalgia and angst. Nuclear war and homemade bunkers. Overhead cables and safety belts. Clunk click. Superman y-fronts and God.

Being watched, getting a proper job, having sex, getting AIDS, getting a girl pregnant, not having children, having a mortgage, taking drugs and dancing. Hair, too much in the ears, too little on the head. Farting. Weeing. Keeping it in. Keeping it up.

God, this is so uncomfortable, so perfectly awkward as we confront the identities of our public information inspired youth and our middle age of worry.

It is inclusive – we want to bop about with him on his dance floor, we don’t want to admit to being the 1 in 3 who voted to keep immigrants out, we want to relax into our group hug. We remember terrorism then and now, we remember war, then and now. Why would you want to join the army? Get a proper job. Put your hand up if you have taken an AIDS test.

We all hide in our masks – our crocodile facade, we feel responsible for everything bad in the world and wonder constantly how we are still here, how we didn’t catch diseases from loo seats and get run over by trains. But we are being watched by God, by Jesus, by cameras, by the internet. Brilliant.

This is brilliant. It is funny, challenging, difficult, joyous, hard viewing. Mr C’s eye contact is hard to return. We feel guilty, the collective conscience of the ‘70s.

FEAR. And the really clever bit is its accessibility. Signed and spoken as part of the production, not something outside of it. This is most properly inclusive and even better for it.

Maybe we have learned something after all. It is these children who became the adults who changed our social makeup, who challenged the divisions between sexuality and race and class and ability, who invited everyone to join in, who broke the boundaries we inherited.

Perhaps FEAR is not always such a bad thing. I wonder what that man in front of me was really feeling.

 

4 stars

 

Project Details

Directed by: Agnieszka Blonska Performed by Gareth Clarkcroc

 

BSL Review (F.E.A.R) A Mr & Mrs Clark production at Chapter Arts Centre by Stephanie Back

Please find below a transcript of the BSL review of (F.E.A.R.) performed by Gareth Clark at Chapter Arts Centre.

Hello my name is Steph. I’m a member of Get The Chance and I am now going to review a performance called (F.E.A.R.) This was performed by an actor called Gareth Clark, focusing on his fears, in society and the differences in this growing up from child to adult.

I arrived at Chapter Arts Centre where the performance was happening. I had been here before so knew what it was like and where I was going so it felt quite relaxed. I went to the desk and asked to pick up my ticket; there was a bit of a communication break down because the lady did not understand me but I wrote it down and it was all okay.

I then went to find the performance space. It looked interesting with big red letters at the back spelling out the word fear. There was a man sat next to this in a crocodile mask, looked good and a bit scary!

I noticed from the start that Alastair,Sill who was audio describing the piece was sat in the audience a couple of seats across from me. I know from previous performances the AD has been hidden in a box behind the scenes and the blind or VIP audience members can access this though headsets. I appreciated that the audio describing was not hidden away and that (apart from the Deaf obviously!) all the audience had access to this.

At the start of the piece Tony Evans who was the BSL interpreter let us know he would be moving. I have been to many performances before where the interpreter is placed to the side of the stage and you have to look back and forth in order to access this. I thought this will be interesting to see how this works. It was really clear. And really easy to follow. It was clear it had been well planned and thought out. There was even a moment where Tony put his hand over Gareth’s mouth and it was nice to see this interaction between the character and the interpreter. This relationship worked really well and benefitted the performance. I felt more part and more included in the performance because of this.

The match between the interpreter and performer also worked really well. The age was similar, look was similar and the portrayal of emotion matched up much better. Because they grew up around the same time this similar experience they had added to the performance. If for example it had been a young woman interpreter the story would have come across much differently.

Seeing both the actor and interpreter on stage also highlighted that (F.E.A.R.) although experienced differently for each person, is the same as a concept overall. Added a sense of uniting it for all.

At the start, I found I didn’t believe the character portrayal of a child as much as I did the different ages shown throughout the rest of the performance. I am not sure why but it was perhaps because I couldn’t emphasise with the facial expressions or they seemed a little fake in reaction to the fear with the over put on smile.. Having said this from teenage upwards I felt like I could well and truly emphasise with this character. It was like there was this barrier that was destroyed in front of us. There was a sudden onslaught of his experiences and an honest, open dialogue that could make him seem vulnerable to the audience. He said that society told him that it was bad to have sex because he will get a person pregnant at 16 and life will be ruined. And then he asked; what do I do then about this aching in his balls with the natural urge to have sex. That felt so honest and open. And being told that by society is something that I was told too. From there I trusted him so much more because it felt like there were no secrets in that room. The fear was exposed.

After the performance I talked to the Interpreter and audio describer about the performance and they mentioned how access had not been an afterthought. It had been planned and budgeted into the performance. This is really rare. A lot of the time they are brought in last minute and told GO! But it was so clear that access had been thought about and it so much more a better performance because of this.

One thought to improve is that it was unclear at the start as to why the scene remained exactly the same with nobody moving for about two minutes. I understood afterwards from asking that this was due to allow time for the AD to set the scene. It would have been good to let the Deaf audience know beforehand that this would happen so it is not so confusing when nothing is happening for a while. I feel there could have also been more audience interaction, I know there was some but a bit more to encourage the audience to think more about their own fears perhaps.

To conclude. I really enjoyed the performance and really appreciate how much the access was thought about. I felt I could connect so much more to the piece because of this.

Thanks you for watching.

http://www.chapter.org/fear

Review The Understudy, Canal Cafe Theatre by Hannah Goslin

Images courtesy of Simon Annand

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Known as the American Season at the Canal Café Theatre, The Understudy written by Theresa Rebeck has been brought to the UK stage at the top of this busy pub theatre in Little Venice.

Taking a comical look at contemporary theatre, the story of The Understudy, while based in America and on the Broadway circuit, presents a story that is relatable to all performing arts professionals in the industry, within every country.

The story features three characters – a Hollywood film star, brought into this theatre production to up ratings, The Understudy to him who is a typical struggling actor trying to find his big break and our stage manager, a former performer who fell into the role when money got hard. Set in the round, we see the play unfold on the ‘stage’ of this theatre, an imaginary weed smoking enthusiastic lighting and sound technician who is only referred to and spoken to with no answer and a backstage area we never see, only for performers to exit through a curtain.

The performers are hilarious – bouncing off one another, they do well to build relationships in front of our eyes. Some interactions are to do with the production; some personal; some 6 years ago. This triangle of talent does well to be as dramatic as us performers can be, and to illustrate the irritation of the industry – the performances that make way of talent for the ‘star’ to bring in the cash. The dreams that are sometimes given up because you have to eat and pay bills. The performer who cannot stand Hollywood (mostly through bitterness of failed auditions) and wants to stay true to the essence of theatre. But somehow, they all are very similar.

The relationship between this three that we see unfold in front of our eyes is constantly intriguing. The performers evidently enjoying their performance and the themes which only helps bring understanding to the production and the humour. They are able to ‘ham up’ their performance to be satirical of the industry but without melodrama and without taking away some of the naturalism of the piece.

The Understudy is honest, comical and a brilliant play. A play within a play can sometimes be slightly dreary but with this production, it is seamless and abundant in irony.

Helen Joy, I am a 3rd Act Critic because……..

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access and respond to sport and cultural provision . 3rd Act Critic Helen Joy gives a personal response in the video and article below on her reasons for being a member of our team.

Hi ….. can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Crikey, here goes: after first degree in Geography and politics aeons ago, was self-employed as a graphic designer and printer in Cardiff. This went wrong. Very wrong. After a bankruptcy and divorce and the completion of Foundation Arts and Design, I then joined a contact centre answering calls for National Rail Enquiries and ended up working for this international contracts organisation for 12 years, eventually leading their off-shoring programme to India.

Some time later and for reasons various, I returned to South Wales, took a Masters in Fine Art at Cardiff Met Uni and started keeping pigs.

So what got you interested in the arts ?

Nothing got me interested in the Arts – I was always drawing, making and painting for as long as I can remember. But, like many of us, I followed other people’s dreams and not my own for much of my life. I dipped in and out of the Arts at points but it is only now that I feel able to justify spending so much more time as a fine artist, writer and illustrator. I also work as an artist-facilitator, specialising in art classes for older people.

How did you get involved with 3rd Act Critics

Through a community arts project run by A3, I met Guy O’Donnell and saw his work on encouraging young and old to become critics and reviewers in Wales, fulfilling a national need. This opportunity to start pulling together the skills I had acquired over the years with my love of all things arty was too good to miss.

It has given me the confidence to produce articles on smallholding, arts and life in general for publication. Through this, in part, I have had invitations to speak at events, collaborate on books and exhibit my own drawings.

Helen participating in a playwriting workshop at the Wales Millennium Centre

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision . You as a 3rd Act Critic are one of the groups Get the Chance supports. Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based critics?

I think that it is hard to break in to the Arts when older; and also as a Welsh person who doesn’t speak Welsh. Language can be used to exclude and deter. I also think that assumptions are made about people who appear to be privileged in some way and they too are disadvantaged. Prejudice is subtle.

 If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?

Older women. We are often treated as a bit of a joke, we seem to have comfortable lives and seen to have had our chances; we are the invisible glue of local communities, giving our time and expertise with humour and hope but with little acknowledgement or reward. It is assumed that we have incomes, partners and that we are in the Arts as a hobby, for play. We are the ones who will develop the young, mentor the adult and encourage the old. We do not qualify for much by way of support and yet we keep it all going.

What excites you about the arts in Wales? 

There is a lot going on; at last craft is seen as having a value almost on par with fine art. Ditto participatory and community art.

What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers? 

Training to produce radio where I hope to interview people about their lives, all great and none small.

Check out 3rd Act Critic Helen Joy’s reviews for Get the Chance at the link below

Get The Chance

 

 

 

 

Review Fire in the Machine, Sounds Like Chaos, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Fire in the Machine is a production from the company Sounds Like Chaos, which features original work with performers aged 16-21 in South East London.

A loud and bright show, Fire in the Machine is a show featuring upbeat music, scheduled but unusual acts, in a form of a different and new Cabaret show than what we are used to. Some is spoken word, some is song, and some is pure chaos.

At this age range, I remember doing my GCSE and A Level drama productions, some of which didn’t look nearly as professional as this production – the usual make what you can, basic lighting and sound systems and A LOT of doubling your time to not only be a performer, but a director, a sound and light technician and prop/set maker. However with the use of BAC, the initiative is given a great space and access to the professional theatre additions which really helps in the confidence in these clearly passionate young people.

Just like my school days, there is evidently some who you can see potential and others who haven’t quite got that far – but this does not take away from the humour, the confidence and the commitment shown in what they have created. At times, just like their name, is organised chaos, providing laughter and a sense of uncertainty, others are thoughtful and bring to home the difficulty our future has, not just to us older persons, but also the struggle young people are facing – perhaps a lot due to our impact .

Fire in the Machine is well worth a watch – there is something wholesome and positive from experiencing this show, seeing the passion, the energy and interest that these young people have in the arts world – making me think that performance art/fringe theatre/original creations/whatever you wish to define it as, will proceed to go up and up.

https://www.bac.org.uk/content/42635/whats_on/whats_on/shows/fire_in_the_machine

 

Criw Celf A2:Connect working with artes mundi, Bedwyr Williams and Gareth Clark

Earlier this year our director Guy O’Donnell met with  Tom Goddard, Project Producer at Criw Celf, A2:Connect to discuss their work.  Criw Celf is is a visual arts project for ‘More Able & Talented’ young artists at secondary school. Tom discussed the current Criw Celf project which is linked to artes mundi. Tom had invited Welsh Artist Bedwyr Williams to work with the young people and they were also able to take a tour of Artes Mundi as well as taking part in workshops to produce art work of their own. This article gives us an update of their progress. The original article can be found at the link below.

An interview with Tom Goddard Project Producer at Criw Celf, A2:Connect

“Hi Tom, would it be possible to give our readers some information on what happened during the recent workshop at NMW?”

“Yes, it went really well thanks! Each of the group have now embarked on their own self initiated project. Through working and getting to know Bedwyr each of them began to consider a position or a problem that they wanted to tackle, investigate or even solve through the creative process. It all sounds a bit over the top when put like that when really it’s about refocussing on them as individuals instead of being given a theme that’s been thrown at groups of young people for over 20 years.”

“What came out of this process was questions, questions about why things are the way they are as well as what they are passionate about; whether those things are absurd, annoying or interesting.”

Criw Celf members feedback

The workshop opened my eyes to the many different ideas of art, the January workshop I thoroughly enjoyed although it was slightly less independent than the February one. This is why this time I preferred it because it was a more hands on experience, as we developed our ideas and played on what we thought they could be presented as we each decided and are going to show them in an exhibition.”

Amber

“It was good fun, met some new people, look forward to carrying on with future activities, interesting people in the class.”

Llyr

“I thoroughly enjoyed the workshops this week as we experimented with a range of different materials and techniques. I tried pinhole photography for the first time which was interesting and an experience.”

Rubi

“In February they’ll be working with two artists with questioning at the heart of their practices, Tiffany Oben and Lisa Saunders. The workshops at Llanover Hall will continue to focus on creating a studio environment where the self led work is supported through the sharing and discussion of context, specific artists, influences and relevant thoughts, people and theory.

During the three February half term workshops they will complete their tour of Artes Mundi seeing the work of Nastio Mosquito and Lamia Joreige at Chapter and they’ll all be learning how to make, take and develop pinhole photographs inspired by Lamia Joreige’s work. On the final day we’ll be going to a workshop led by Mr & Mrs Clark in Chapter’s Theatre then seeing a performance of their one man show F.E.A.R. I saw it last year at Experimentica and was struck by its honesty and power after meeting and getting to know the group I felt it would be exciting for them to see something this bold.”

Criw Celf participating in a workshop with Gareth Clark from Mr & Mrs Clark at Chapter Arts Centre.

“What plans are there for the development of the project.”

“In March once the project work is nearing completion and even while some of it is still very much in progress!, Criw Celf will be working with a curator and a technician to design, build and curate their own exhibition in the centre of town. The idea is that Criw Celf will learn how to do it themselves, the groups average age is 15 so I think it’s really important to demystify all this stuff early on, to get hands on and to have a go yourself. All of these adults might work really hard but none of them do something these young people couldn’t do, if they put their minds to it and I’d like to think that Criw Celf would probably do it better too. I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of Cardiff Council and that’s meant I have been able to secure a building to house the exhibition for the whole of the month of March so if you’re in town do pop in and check out the exhibition.”

Criw Celf Exhibition opening – 2.30pm on Sat 4 March
Venue: 11 High Street, Cardiff City Centre

Exhibition open
Thurs, Fri & Sat throughout March 12 – 4pm
9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 March

 

Review DenMARKED, Conrad Murray, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Raw. Interesting. Emotional. With a dash of music in the form of looping, beat box. All from one man.

DenMARKED is what can only be described as brilliance. Taken biographically, this one man show from Conrad Murray hits the emotional pedal, pulls the heart strings, but also gives you the giggles. From times of being beaten by his father, his life of constantly being put down and fear of going no where but to rock bottom, however coming out the other side with the help of Shakespeare, music and the arts, we feel as if we are on a roller coaster with him; being able to tell his story is a triumph in itself but to express and tell the tale with such confidence, such theatricality and reflectiveness brings all the different elements to this hour or so long monologue, keeping us interested and the growing sense of friendship with Murray.

Basic use of lighting, pre-recorded narrative titles are used well, not taking away anything from this man, his story, his guitar and loop machine. The music itself is incredible – if this guy was not talented enough with how he has created theatre and ‘performed’ it in such a fantastic way, he continues to shine through the great ‘beats’ he makes on the spot – a CD I would love to own.

DenMARKED parallels parts of Murray’s life with the story of Hamlet, using key quotes to add that little something extra to his message.

With all these elements, this is a clever production and one of a kind – some can do spoken word; some can beat box and use this as a story telling technique; and of course some act. Conrad Murray does all of these, and more, bringing a polished, honest and brave production to the Battersea stage.

https://www.bac.org.uk/content/42636/whats_on/whats_on/shows/denmarked

Top Tunes with Kully Thiarai Artistic Director, National Theatre Wales

Portrait photographs by Jon Pountney

Top Tunes is a new feature for Get the Chance in collaboration with Outpost Coffee and Vinyl http://www.outpostrecords.co.uk

The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently got the chance to chat to Kully Thiarai, Artistic Director, National Theatre Wales.

Hi Kully great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

“Hi I’m currently Artistic Director of National Theatre Wales and based in Cardiff. I grew up in Smethwick, near Birmingham and got into theatre quite by accident. I have over the years worked independently as a Theatre Director and also run organisations large and small –some with theatre buildings and others like National Theatre Wales whose work can happen anywhere.”

This chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to? 

“I’ve not listened to much recently. I’ve just bought the new XX album and looking forward to seeing them in Cardiff very soon. I’ve mostly been listening to Bowie recently– his greatest hits and Black Star. I was lucky enough to see Lazarus in London– the new work he made before he died and it made me want to listen to some of his older music as well as Black Star.”

Have you had the chance to catch up with any Welsh or Wales based singers or bands?

“I’ve always enjoyed Super Furry Animals and Catatonia and would obsessively play the Manics albums but I have a lot to catch up on the more recent Welsh scene. Swn Festival is of course a great event and it certainly helped me hook into some Welsh musical talent that I wasn’t aware of.”

We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, so we want to ask you to list 5 records/albums which have personal resonance to you and why. 

“I’m struggling to list only 5 – but here are few that come to mind for very different reasons.”

“U2 – lots of albums that I love but ‘War’ which featured ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ was my introduction to the band and I still think it’s a wonderful anthem and rebel song. There are loads of other U2 songs that I play a lot but I could be here for hours naming them.”

“I can’t name one single album as such but I loved the Jam and then The Style Council and now all things Paul Weller. ‘A Town called Malice’ is one of my favourite songs – it somehow captured the times I grew up in. ‘Brand New Start’ is heartbreaking but I always hear it as a song to help pick yourself up when your down and ‘Why Walk When You Can Run’ just celebrates the joy of being young and full of life.”

“Tina Turner because I had to include a great woman singer who was feisty, extraordinary and such an entertainer, but I can’t name an album – she’s simply the best!”

 “Parallel Lines Blondie – I remember one of my Maths teacher at school being completely obsessed with Blondie and he used to try and sing her songs. She was such an iconic figure and the music felt so different from other things I was hearing at the time.”

“Monsoon Wedding soundtrack – I really enjoyed the film and the diversity of music from classical Indian tunes to contemporary compositions was really fun. It has a joyful quality and hooks into my Indian culture I suppose.”

Just to put you on the spot could you choose one track from the five listed above and tell us why you have chosen this?

“It’s really difficult to choose one but…..There is a beautiful song on the Monsoon Wedding Soundtrack called Aaj Mausam Bada Beimann Hai (Today the Weather Plays Tricks on Me) by Mohammed Rafi which always makes me smile. It’s playing as a young wedding planner is creating a heart of marigolds on the lawn as the rain is falling to show the maid of the house his feelings for her.”

 

 

 

 

 

Review Live Before you Die, Battersea Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Since coming to the same venue to see Hairspeace last year, I have noticed that there is little (or in my opinion not enough) of performance arts with honesty, in a sort of presentation style.

Walking into Live Before you Die, I was not expecting it to have this theme. But it’s a theme I’m beginning to love.

Live Before you Die is a performance art come presentation of Byron Vincent and Dave McGinn’s journey to fix Byron. With a long standing illness of Bi Polar disorder, this truthful, at times shocking, at others hilarious and brave performance looks into Byron’s disorder, Dave’s friendship and attempts to help and all the crazy, interesting and scary events through this journey.

From meeting American self help professionals, to a stint in Vegas, and a missed show at the Edinburgh fringe, this pair tell their story while bouncing off one another. There’s no fancy tricks, no crazy light and sound moments intervening, no progressive dance; simply two men, in a sort of ‘Pointless’ set up (I’ve got to admit, it was a younger and more interesting similarity to the game show) and video clips of the tale.

This may sound boring – who sees a show that is so minimalist? But do not be fooled – coming from such honesty is definite intrigue and to add all these atmospheric theatrical additions would only ruin what they are achieving. To try and explain such a diverse and complicated illness is hard enough, but to be open and bring your highs, lows and confessions to 40 or so complete strangers takes guts and counteracts the stigma around mental health in a way that I have never seen before or doubt anyone has tried to do.

We are made to feel like friends; we laugh and joke with them, and this relaxed performance isn’t just what we need but we also sense that for Byron and Dave, this is something they need too.

Finishing with a hug from Byron at the end, there’s no certainty of what is next for this pair, but we can be sure their friendship, talent for performance art and more antics are definitely going to continue in abundance. And we hope, positive progression for Byron.

https://www.bac.org.uk/content/42637/whats_on/whats_on/shows/live_before_you_die