Saturday, 31 May 2014

Audio Anguish #34

There is a prize for the person who identifies the play. And the language it is in. And why I thought that it was a good idea to make an hour fifteen version of a script in a language I neither speak nor understand. 

Wanted: beautiful and intelligent companion, GSOH, interested in the arts to join intense and tarnished romantic for horror and pretentious conversation.
It must be time for me to start dating again. Andrew Campbell and Warcry productions are putting on Cleansed by Sarah Kane. Since Kane is my favourite dramatist, and Cleansed is possibly her most outrageous script, the choice of Sloans bar for venue fills me with a sense of dramatic irony and burgeoning romance. Cleansed, like much of Kane, abstracts the raw brutality into a vague environment – it could be a university, a clinic, a concentration camp. The students, the patients, the inmates rape, kill and love each other, become each other. And even though Kane commands language with supernatural skill, the nature of her scripts – terse, suggestive – allow directors to find their own path through the production, lending the experience a harsh, experimental edge.
It’s a bastard hour: her only script that I can’t read for pleasure. She goes further in her depiction of cruelty, picking up on Edward Bond’s viciousness and excising the failing hope that glimmers in Crave or4.48. While love is projected as the only hope, it can barely face down the repeated acts of violence that dominate the opening scenes. EvenBlasted, her first work that was roundly condemned, has an erotic itch – corrupted and sick, but alive. The desire in Cleansed is for the dead, for death, a ghastly vision of passion as dislocated body parts and tormented lust.
By setting the action in an institution, Kane’s savagery goes beyond personal and political intent, imagining human culture and civilisation as a mere machine for enforcing submission and stripping us of our agency, our hopes, our desires. She is relentlessly anti-humanist, diving into a metaphysical world where the fundamental nature of the human is examined and found bitter. It is intensely spiritual – not in the twee new age euphemism for optimistic and lacking rigour, but in the dark longing of God’s absence.
When a production is successful, as in Edinburgh University’s 4.48, the audience can leave the theatre uplifted with the thrill of having survived extremity. It’s a cliché that a play can force discussion and so intimacy and connection. Yet in Kane’s intensity, talking is the only solution. Her language is an infection, an inoculation. This, of course, makes it perfect for a first date. A ticket is available for anyone glamorous and brave enough to join me for an unflinching gawk at the horror and, even worse, a post-play discussion with the Performance Editor.

Enter Sarah and Gareth. They are shackled together. Naked, they recall the Rider Waite Tarot card of The Devil.

Sarah: Do you trust me?
Gareth: Yes. But why?
Sarah: You trust me because I write so well. You trust me because you recognise the things I describe.
Gareth: I don’t recognise this place.
Sarah: It’s a university.
Gareth: It looks like a concentration camp.
Sarah: What’s the difference?
Black out. Loud electronic music. Lights up, The Red Room. Grace is having sex with her brother, while a retarded boy, in a dress, swings from the ceiling on a pair of tights.
Black out. Loud electronic music. Lights up. Sarah and Gareth again.

Gareth: An hour and a half’s a bit long for this.
Sarah: Too weak to take it?
Gareth: It’s a good idea to read out the stage directions rather to act them. It saves the actors having to actually mutilate themselves.
Sarah: Why do you insist on considering Cleansed as a play? My pain transcends theatre. I am on the point of transforming the script into something like your beloved Live Art.
Gareth: You were consciously copying other authors. Edward Bond. Beckett. You even used Shakespeare to defend your stage directions. Just because you were clinically depressed didn’t mean that you weren’t literary.
Sarah: So how many stars are you going to give me?

Black out. Loud electronic music. Lights up, The White Room. Tinker and a gay male couple.

Tinker: I’m a doctor. I’m not a doctor. I hate women.
Gay Male Couple: We understand that sado-masochism is not a matter of whips and chains, but the deeper torments of the mind. One of us ends up dead, the other loses hands, feet and tongue.
Tinker: We are all symbols of internal and external expression. I might be God.

Black out. Sarah and Gareth.

Gareth: Do you remember when we met at The Scala cinema, In King’s Cross?
Sarah: They were showing Pasolini’s Salo. I was the only woman in the audience.
Gareth: And I was the only man not wearing a mackintosh and furtively touching himself.
Sarah: You were a boy.
Gareth: You could have stayed the next morning.
Sarah: How would it have been different?
Gareth: You might still be here.
Sarah: Because I needed you? And I’d be writing adaptations of classics for the NTS.
Sarah: Would you have died for me?
Gareth: I would have said that I would.
Sarah: From the man who lasted nine seconds when he was waterboarded.

Black out. Lights up. The chocolate room. The retarded boy is eating an entire box of chocolates to a loud, swirling soundtrack.


Black out. Lights up. Gareth and Sarah.

Gareth: Is it true that Tinker was named after a critic from The Daily Mail?
Sarah: These days, I’d write a witty acoustic song about it and put it on YouTube.
Gareth: We don’t do sincerity in the twenty-first century.
Sarah: That’s why you don’t have any good script-writers.
Gareth: You know, they were just boys. You needed an older lover, et c.
Sarah: I needed God. And He’s dead.
Gareth: This is your worst play.
Sarah: And so my most honest.
Gareth: It needs to be under-played.

Black out. Lights up. The Yellow room. Sounds of amputation, and screams. Grace is naked, with tits and cock.

Grace: (sings) All you love is need. All you love is need. Need, need: need is all you love.

Black out. Lights up. Gareth and Sarah.

Sarah: It’s not as bad as my version of Hippolytus.
Gareth: You hadn’t bothered to read the original.
Sarah: So what? I just fancied having a Greek hero wanking into a sock. You’d prefer a reverential version?
Gareth: I love everything you wrote, Sarah.
Sarah: Does that mean you are going to rape me?

Black out. Pause. Lights up. The stage is scattered with Tinker’s mad eyes, melted chocolate, piss, flames, feet, hands, half a tongue, blood which smells of tomato puree, the dead bodies of the cast. Gareth and Sarah again.

Gareth: They really went for it.
Sarah: I hate actors.
Gareth: Why else would you have written Cleansed?
Sarah: I do to actors what God did to me.
Gareth: Force them through a script that they can’t hope to escape?
Sarah: If God existed, that is what He did. But God is dead.
Gareth: You killed yourself because you had such a strong identification with God?
Sarah: I killed myself because... have you looked out the window lately?
Gareth: You killed yourself because you picked up a copy of Hello! Magazine in the STD waiting room?
Sarah: I saw what was coming. God is dead, and Jordan is sitting in His throne. If God is Love, then Love is dead. In the gap, there is need. Society weeds out the capable. Society destroys God.

Gareth: Sarah? It’s Easter.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Chamber Dancing

Two new initiatives for the West End Festival will also take place in connection with The Cottier Chamber Project. The first is the newly established dance programme, The Cottier Dance Project, which will be Glasgow's only professional dance festival. In this first year performances will include a new work by High Heart Dance Company and traditional music superstars Emily Smith, Jamie McClennan and band, and a showcase programme made up of short works by emerging choreographers who are formerly or currently members of Scottish Ballet and Scottish Dance Theatre. In partnership with Grosvenor cinema, there will also be screenings of several films featuring dance.

§  Glasgow’s only professional dance festival
§  Dance, new choreography and film
§  Showcase for Scottish-based choreographers

A new strand to the 2014 West End Festival’s programme is The Cottier Dance Project, a professional dance festival which will take place in Glasgow from 22nd-27th June 2014. It aims to champion Scottish-based choreographers and dancers, to provide a platform for new work and to forge new collaborations across the arts to create and develop original performance pieces.  As well as contemporary, commissioned work, we will be showing archival dance footage and arts film, to revisit great and inspirational work from the past.
Curator of the Cottier Dance Project , Freya Jeffs said, “We are delighted to be a new part of  the West End Festival, and to be bringing professional dance to the Cottier Theatre and St Silas Church.  All the live shows are less than one hour in length, making them perfect for unwinding after work or with the family.  It will be a week of short bursts of artistic excellence in Glasgow’s West End.”

The Cottier Dance Project opens with archive ballet footage shown in the glorious Grosvenor Cinema, followed by the iconic 1937 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film, Shall We Dance?, which will take us back to the golden age of musical cinema. There will be a live dance demonstration before the film to get everyone in the mood, and there is a complimentary drink with every ticket.

The live performances in Cottier’s Theatre include a collaboration between traditional Scottish music and contemporary dance, as well as a showcase of new choreography.  Footprints (Monday 23rd, Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th June at 6.30pm) is a new work by multi-award winning, traditional Scottish singer Emily Smith, musician Jamie McClennan and the dancers of High Heart Dance Company. The idea behind Footprints stems from the footprints left by Scotland on other cultures, and vice versa. The work explores, through music and contemporary movement, the identities of the performers who have all been influenced by Scottish culture.

The Cottier Dance Project will be involved with The Cottier Chamber Project’s family concert at St Silas Church at 11am on Saturday 14 June. Two dancers join host ensemble Daniel’s Beard in the premiere of a specially commissioned piece; a setting of Tennyson’s ‘The Lady of Shalott’, by composer Lenny Sayers, with narration by singer and BBC presenter Jamie MacDougall.

There are a further two live events in the programme which will be held at Cottier’s Theatre on Thursday 26 June and Friday 27 June at 8.30pm. Watch This Space is a showcase of five, new, short dance works, by independent artists and dancers from Scotland's national companies.

Help Wanted Again...

Do you live, work or play in Glasgow?

Maybe you visit it every so often?

Or you were born there?

Perhaps you saw a production by a Glasgow artist once, but you have never been north o' border...

But can you come up with a word or phrase that describes Glasgow performance?

At this stage, anything will do. Say whatever you like... the interesting bit comes after I have a few words to mess around.

Art in Shawlands - it is amazing to see the precinct full o' stuff

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Fiona Hyslop talks Made in Scotland

The Librarian @ Newsboy

Newsboy @ Tron

Gabriel Kuri 'All probability resolves into form'

Truman Capote Talk Show

From his unhappy childhood in the southern US to his drunken ramblings on talk shows, Capote is revealed as an artist aware of his weaknesses but unable to address them.



Truman Capote played many roles: socialite who betrayed confidences, literary superstar, Andy Warhol's idol and then acolyte and, finally, tragic alcoholic. Bob Kingdom's monologue presents all these personae, portraying an author haunted by his own genius.

Kingdom captures Capote's high-pitched voice and camp manner, generating sympathy for a man whose acid wit and brittle self-assurance destroyed friendships and made his terrible decline inevitable. From his unhappy childhood in the southern US to his drunken ramblings on talk shows, Capote is revealed as an artist aware of his weaknesses but unable to address them. His successes - 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' and the novel 'In Cold Blood' - are overshadowed by Capote's personality and social life.

Kingdom keeps the audience delighted through bitchy witticisms, and captivated by the misery of Capote's later addictions. Capote's story is recast as a moral warning against excess and a celebration of his peerless way with words.

Krapp's Last Tape and Footfalls.

The Citizens Theatre presents Dominic Hill's new production, two plays by Samuel Beckett: Krapp's Last Tape and Footfalls.
Dominic Hill's first season as artistic director at The Citizens has been a clear statement of intent. While he promises a few surprises in the next year, his 'trilogy' of serious scripts – Pinter's BetrayalKing Learand finally the Beckett double bill of Krapp's Last Tape and Footfalls – announced that Hill was not only playing to his strengths as an interpreter of texts but continuing the tradition that made The Citizens a producing powerhouse in the late twentieth century.
Hill is more than willing to challenge himself. "I felt we needed to say that we are about putting on the greatest writers in the world: and so – Pinter, Shakespeare, Beckett. My motive for becoming a director was reading plays as a student and saying, I want to see this! I still get that thrill when I read a good play."
Kay Gillie – who is taking on an unusual role in Footfalls (her character never comes on stage) – adds that there is a new energy in the building. "It is an amazing atmosphere and there is always so much going on," she says. "It really is a hive of creativity. You meet actors you have not seen for ages and get the chance to chat about different productions. It is a very stimulating place to be."
As the final production of the season, a Beckett double bill is a brave choice. By casting Gerard Murphy as the titular hero, Hill brings back an actor who made his name at The Citizens in the 1970s, deliberately recalling the theatre's glory days. And Beckett – a rare example of a modern playwright who is both popular and experimental – is well known enough for Hill's version to be compared to recent productions.
Gillie, fresh from The Steamie's successful tour directed by Tony Roper, admits "I am definitely a Beckett fan," having played "woman" in The Arches' production of Rockabye. And while Beckett is known as a writer, his use of theatre goes far beyond the script: the tactic of keeping one character off-stage, Gillie adds, "is part of a range of classic Beckett style elements. It is part of something larger. For me the role also still requires that connection with the live theatre audience. This is what makes Beckett so special."

LCMF 2014 26 May - 1 June Second Home, London

LCMF 2014
26 May - 1 June
Second Home, London

The second edition of the London Contemporary Music Festival (LCMF 2013), "the capital's most adventurous and ambitious festival of new music" (The Guardian), returns next Monday. LCMF 2014 ( will offer a week of multi-disciplinary events exploring the best new music and performances from around the world in Rohan Silva's extraordinary new space, Second Home.

Highlights include an exclusive presentation by artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, the UK premiere of two string quartets by Italy’s greatest living composer Salvatore Sciarrino, a night of Marxist Chillwave (in association with Verso books), the world premiere of a concerto for violin and computer by synth pioneer Peter Zinovieff, a rare Noh play presentation by an acclaimed young Japanese troupe, a recital by Warhol and Burroughs collaborator John Giorno and a performance by Gavin Bryars.

In association with Verso books and the Quietus, we also present a series of talks at Ace Hotel Shoreditch.

Jennifer Walshe will give a rendition of her own work i: same person/ii: not the same person (2007) that sees "a steady crescendo of electronic flutter" give way to "a torrent of half-whistling, half-salivating vocalism".


Opening in Shoreditch this autumn, Second Home will be the world's most innovative space for entrepreneurs and creative businesses.

Before construction work begins, the Second Home team have invited some friends to host a series of music, art and digital events in their empty building on Hanbury Street. For all Second Home press enquiries, please email:

Rohan Silva, co-founder of Second Home: “We're really pleased that LCMF are hosting their brilliant event in our empty Second Home building. Second Home is going to be a place where creative people and companies come together to do amazing things, and it's great that this is already starting to happen even before our construction work begins."

Second Home
68-80 Hanbury Street
E1 5JL

About LCMF

LCMF is a not-for-profit multi-disciplinary arts commissioning agency specialising in music and performance. The London Contemporary Music Festival 2014 will be their third festival in the past year, following last year's critically acclaimed London Contemporary Music Festival (July/Aug 2013) and our recent retrospective The Music of Bernard Parmegiani (March 2014). It is run by four curators: Aisha Orazbayeva, Sam Mackay, Igor Toronyi-Lalic and Lucy R

Monday, 26 May 2014

SWANS- part1

'Perhaps that's one reason why the group feel as potent now as ever, thirty years after first forming and at a time (like back then) when dividing lines are again being drawn across society to maintain a toxic status quo. That drive to create states of shared ecstasy feels like at least one small sonic riposte to austerity: Swans as a joyful collective fuck-you in the face of divide-and-rule politics.'
The Quietus (review of To Be Kind)

I divide the career of Swans into four distinct eras. The earliest stage is when they were important: from the first release through Cop, Time is Money to Children of God. This last album marked the change in emphasis. Up to this point, Swans had been about the noise, the violence, the brutally slow crawl. This was their important phase because they were pushing at the boundaries of music, testing what happened when musical forms were plunged into deep freeze. The audience got to experience extremes of volume. Gira painted a picture of a godless universe, filled with BDSM loving authority figures, and their willing victims. 

Children of God instituted and suggested phase two: the ecstatic Swans. Showing an interest in a more ambiguous relationship to power, and adding more of the lyrical light that female vocalist Jarboe offered, CoG had orchestration, and dabbled with dynamics in a more nuanced way. A brief major label interlude (The Burning World, which Gira abjures and does sound rather like one of producer Bill Laswell's world music appropriations) led to a pair of albums (White Light from the Mouth of Infinity and Love of Life) that applied a sophisticated musical vocabulary to Gira's energetic assaults on reality. The band displayed more of their influences - the Pink Floyd references are audible in the ambition and the shuddering grooves - and were less important in terms of exploding musical possibility. But there were listenable. 

The third era was what came after this, until the band split up, and then reformed. It represents the years that I stopped listening. The later Swans' albums seemed to be caught up in the band's past, never sure whether they wanted to be 'the important' band of the 1980s (which was less important now that Big Loud Bands were in the charts) or the second stage experimental psychedelic warriors. 

The final stage is after 2010, when Gira revived the band (or brand. It's just him and his friends, really). Given the ferocious work rate Gira has discovered, it is possible that the come-back will have its own stages. The quotation from The Quietus above sums up the joy being felt by many people at this return. 

It is a joy I find impossible to share.

Swans 2012 @ The Arches

Michael Gira's ambitions for this particular live incarnation of Swans are not modest: the set clocks in at around two hours and from the gentle opening – atmosphere drones backing Gira's affecting baritone – to the tumultuous finale, the band chase a shamanic ferocity. But they never quite achieve that ineffable ecstasy, offering moments of brutality (the revisiting of 1980s A Coward is concise terror), galloping joy (The Seer itself) and stretch where they struggle to rise above The Arches' difficult sound. 
Support Sir Richard Bishop is overshadowed by the expectation of Swans: his acoustic strumming follows the experimental Americana (folky but with eastern sounding motifs and a drone sensitivity) introduced by John Fahey in the 1960s. It connects to Swans' interest in folk instrumentation and the extended yet focused improvisation. In some ways, Swans' set is a more orchestrated version of Bishop's musical quest, replacing the precision of his picking with a layered majesty.
Swans, however, are at the mercy of The Arches' idiosyncratic acoustics. Some parts of the room reduce the crunch of the bass to a buzz – elsewhere, a treble hiss distracts from the full tilt attack of the guitars. Many of the more improvised passages reach a monotonous glory, an emphatic and almost spiritual energy, occasionally descending into self-indulgence. The precision of A Coward or the dynamic pulse of The Seer make it clear that this line-up can reach Gira's vision – tonight, an inconsistency creeps in, leaving them sporadically exciting.


Playwright, actor and 'amateur cosmologist' Rob Drummond has two new plays coming up – Quiz Show and The Riot Of Spring premiere in April and May this year. We caught up with him to talk about life, the universe and wrestling
When he isn't fighting muscled men or being shot at by audience members, Rob Drummond is a serious chap. "I don't understand people who aren't interested in big questions," he says. "I loathe talk of mortgages and tax returns – it bores me to tears. Yes, we have to deal with these things but please don't talk to me about them while I'm trying to live." Now that his hit from the Traverse's Fringe programme, Bullet Catch, is taking him to the USA, this intellectual drive has helped him to write two new pieces: Quiz Show for the Traverse and The Riot of Spring as part of the National Theatre of Scotland's Auteurs season. 

Since his previous successes – including the spectacular Wrestling, which had him rucking with Scotland's finest sports entertainment grapplers – have featured Drummond in a starring role, Quiz Show almost feels like a return to the classic format of scripted theatre. 

"I've never hidden my desire to be considered a serious playwright who writes, well, plays with characters and a plot and a fourth wall and all that," he admits. "With Quiz Show the format came first. I knew I wanted to take the structure, rules, atmosphere of a quiz show and use them to tell a story. I just didn't know what story." 

While the advertising hints at dark secrets and mysterious hosts who are offering greater prizes than a mere holiday in Benidorm, Quiz Show has that Drummond enthusiasm for big ideas. He explains that "the quest for truth was an obvious step. The story itself, you'll just need to wait and see." And although he claims that had he not been persuaded by an advisor of studies to study theatre at University, he could have easily become a writer for television or film, he enjoys the freedom of live performance. 

"Well it's immediate, that's appealing," he continues. "I can pretty much say or do what I want without delay and interference." Since he has frequently taken detours to discuss the vastness of the universe and existential despair (in Bullet Catch, nominally a study of the vaudeville trick), or childhood fantasies of macho violence (Wrestling, unsurprisingly), Drummond makes full use of theatre as a place of ideas and debate. It allows him to entertain his intellectual curiosity. 

"I don't care what colour your curtains are, I care that electrons behave differently when they are being filmed by a camera!" he insists. "What the fuck is that about? I don't understand people who are not curious, people who don't die a little inside when they realise they will probably go to their deaths knowing on balance next to nothing about the universe they exist in."


While Quiz Show plugs into contemporary society's anxiety about television, snatches its tired style and chucks it back refreshed and sparkling with ideas, The Riot of Spring goes back a century to the premiere of The Rite of Spring: a ballet that caused a huge fuss because of its startling originality. If Quiz Show throws down with truth, Riot hustles originality. One of the characters is an artist driven to insanity by his need to be original.

Drummond has made his mark by applying unexpected juxtapositions – fighting and personal monologues, or suicide and stage magic – but he is less worried about being unique. "I used to worry about it. What's the point in even doing this, it's all been done before. What's the point?" he says. "Even The Rite of Spring, which seemed to come from nowhere but Stravinsky's soul, had its sources."

"I don't worry so much about it now because I think there's something quite beautiful in the fact that originality cannot exist." He has found an alternative to originality, fortunately. "It's about honouring those who have gone before and taking their gifts and making them relevant to your situation, borrowing, adding, changing and then hopefully leaving enough for the next lot."

Drummond might be looking forwards to the future generations already, but he is still regarded as part of a new generation of theatre artists – the NTS Auteurs season has lined him up next to Kieran Hurley, another graduate of Glasgow University, Nic Green and Claire Cunningham: all performers who, while not necessarily sharing themes or even genres (Cunningham is most famous as a choreographer, for example), do have a common enthusiasm for new ideas and expressing a personal vision.

However, in presenting two works close together, Drummond has managed to both bridge the Edinburgh-Glasgow divide and the one between Live Art, traditionally more of a west coast matter, and The Script, supported in the identity of The Traverse as a theatre for 'new writing.' This eclecticism might come from that same restless energy that seems to have him in training for every other production he writes.

"I mentioned earlier that I wanted to be just a plain old playwright, and that's true," he reflects. "But I also want to be an actor. And a director. And a wrestler. And a magician. And a dancer. And a filmmaker. And an astronaut." Whether the next production will be Rob Drummond's
Gravitational Leap Of Faith, he refuses to stop asking questions and trying new things. "Why would anyone not want to do everything? We're only here for a short time, it's criminal not to try to get as much out of it as possible," he continues. "At the moment people seem to be allowing me to make this type of theatre and that's great, so for now, I'll do as much of that as I can. But I'm still also a playwright and a husband and a football fan and an amateur cosmologist." 

He is also an entertainer – willing to take a bullet to entertain during The Fringe or get beaten up by wrestlers. Quiz Show, although it is as much a thriller as a parody of celebrity culture, follows up on his interest in the way that popular culture can embody profound truths. He made Wrestling come on like classical mythology and Bullet Catch like a metaphor for free will. Yet for all of his investigations, he admits to a disappointment. 

"The insanity I experience when making a show is not to do with creating something new so much as creating something perfect," he concludes. "Which I will never achieve. And much like the realisation that I will die not knowing the secrets of the universe, that fact sucks."

Heart @ The Tron

Heart @ The Tron