On theatre that has something to say, and does so very bluntly

Two pieces of wonderful theatre in this post- The Invisible Hand at The Tricycle and Refugees Welcome at the Southwark Playhouse. They were two, very different pieces of theatre.

The Invisible Hand is a proper play, one in two acts and one that lasts approximately 115 minutes. It was easy to follow and although difficult to watch at points was fairly predictable, the white male American was accused of bringing ‘dirty’ capitalism to Pakistan and the group that kidnap him (although their ideology is to use any money to help the people) and they use him to make money. The plot shows how the money he makes for them turns them thirsty for money, even crazed by it at points and it was fairly obvious the play was a criticism on what money can do to people and how it can twist their ideals- but when you are still looking at a predominantly white, middle class, British audience (one gentleman comes to mind who had a stomach the size of a large beach-ball) you feel the play is only having so much of an impact in terms of relatability.

Refugees Welcome however was a mix of poetry, comedy and scenes from plays that are centred around the refugee crisis. One section you were laughing, the next you were close to tears. The audience was noticeably more diverse, as was the means of tackling the subject. But the latter was simply because of the nature of the performance. However, the message was just as blunt as the previous one- We are all humans on an insignificant plant and we lose nothing by helping others.

This technique of being blunt with your message doesn’t hurt- it gets your point across and that’s important, especially with Refugees Welcome where the point was to raise money for a very pressing topic. And so here’s to being blunt- long may it continue

-Kim

A short, public thanks to Jamie Lloyd

A short, public thanks to Jamie Lloyd.

 

Dear Jamie Lloyd. Thank you for listening to me. In the post show discussion on Monday the 14th of May 2016, in Trafalgar Studios One, I questioned you (from the perspective of an Applied Theatre student) about your production of Jean Genet’s The Maids and how it is accessible and transferable outside of the west end stage. You asked me what I thought – the audience laughed, until I responded with my opinion. I think it’s totally do-able. The themes – relationships, power, sex – would work perfectly as an Applied theatre show. Take it into a prison – into a school – into a management training facility. People can learn from it. Put a decent workshop alongside it and bam. Theatre for people who wouldn’t necessarily see quality productions like this. Community panto is great, but this could show people how much more the theatre is capable of. You thanked ATG for the £15 tickets – those are the tickets that allowed us students to come and see it. But what I am most grateful for is your acknowledgement that a play can be so much more than just a play – and you obviously thought about the words that came out of a 19 year old geordies gob.

 

Cheers mate, I really loved the show.

 

 

Dr Faustus and Audiences

Thursday 12th May.

Duke of York’s Theatre.

This comes to you in two points.

Point one:

Because we are poor students we rarely pay over £20 for a ticket, and if we do we must really really want to see that show. For example I paid £25 each for two tickets to tickets to see Miss Saigon as a present for my mum. The seats then were  rubbish, most of the stage being obscured by a safety bar, that although beautiful, wasn’t what we’d paid to see.

For Dr Faustus Kirsty and I were sat, once again, in the Gods. Right up high, however a lot of the action in the play took part in a part of the stage that we couldn’t see, and not just us but the entire half of the top circle were leaning over to see the stage- not pleasant and not great for your back. These theatres were built for showing off the fact that you were going to the theatre, not really to watch the show. This is a disappointing fact when Kit Harrington is writhing about the stage mostly undressed. Why are we paying for seats This is something that so often happens. The action is played to the best seats in the house and people that pay less are left feeling lesser.

Point two:

Some shows are funny and that’s okay to laugh, and sometimes you might find things funny that others don’t and that’s okay to laugh- but what’s not okay is to whisper and giggle when two men kiss, or act in a sexual way towards each other. Especially when you don’t react the same way to a man and a woman acting sexually. I struggle with this partly I think because I’m British, and talking in the theatre- especially in a quiet moment, that pisses me off more than a grey day. The other reason I got annoyed is because you’re just making everyone uncomfortable by displaying your ignorance and uncomfortableness around a subject that is wildly accepted by society now.

In conclusion of these two points I find myself conflicting my own views, stuck between wanting more people in the theatre- and wanting those people to be respectful of where they are and the type of theatre they are going to see.

Dear White… People?

Thursday 21st April 2016, the Embassy Theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, 7pm.

I walked into the reception and then through the dark wood doors

And I then experienced something I had never experienced in my life before. I was in a colour minority. And that’s a good place to start when describing what this night was like.

The first thing of the night was This TED Talk. It really set the tone for the evening, developing the idea that trying to pretend that it didn’t matter that people are different races. Because they are, and using peoples differences (be that race, gender, sexualtiy or class) can be hugely beneficial for companies that need to solve problems.

This was followed by a short welcome by my amazing, driven classmate Steven Kavuma who had organised the entire event. In this introduction he talked about his decision to call the event ‘Dear White People’ after the satirical movie of the same title. Some people (mostly white in my experience) were offended by the title and felt like it was an attack on them personally. Steven justified his use of the title by stating he needed to cause a stir- and cause a stir that night did.

The testimonies that were spoken were horrifying, shocking me into the realisation that the institution that I love for being accepting and broad minded wasn’t quite so. As a white woman at Central I found it hard to swallow, a real wake up call. But the spirit in the room was encouraging, anger never rearing its head for long before it turned into solid determination to change the industry they either work in or are going to work in- but they weren’t just talking like I’ve heard talk before. It wasn’t ‘The industry needs more diversity’ or ‘Their needs to be more grassroots’, it was specifics- ‘Drama schools need a more ethnically diverse faculty to encourage a diverse student body’ and ‘outreach programmes should take place both in areas with higher diversity, and should be cheaper.’

This kind of talk is the talk that is needed. Talk not asking people to change things, but actually telling the people what they need to do to solve the problem, putting the ball in their court so to speak.

Your shot big guys.

With People, Going Places, and Seeing Things

 

 

It’s a joint thing. Kirsty and Kim like to go to see plays. And some musicals. Maybe its just a hobby – or maybe its because we’re both doing a degree surrounding plays. Either way, we see a lot. The first we saw together was a musical – Matilda the Musical at the Cambridge theatre in London’s West End. We’d worked a long day 2 weeks prior – dressed in nearly nothing (some cheap rip off of a traditional German dress) serving pitches of mass-produced beer for £20 a pitcher. We were knackered, could barely feel our feet and by our second break were ready to give up. So, to keep us going we decided, when our payslips came through, to spend that money on a night out – I had a voucher for a free bottle of wine with dinner at a mainstream Italian restaurant and we went to a ticket booth on Leister Square – thinking we’d struck a bargain with £35 tickets to the hit show. Looking back we could have easily got those tickets (at the back row of the theatre) so so so much cheaper, but we’d only been in London for a month and didn’t know any better. The show – well it blew our minds. There was a transformative set, top-notch lighting and a child lead whose life was already 1000% more sorted than mine – all elements which sent us home singing, literally. And that’s where it all began – after Matilda it was Wonder.Land at the National (Olivier), Nell Gwynn at the Lyric, Waste at the National (Lyttleton), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time at the Gielgud, Reasons to be Happy at the Hampstead and most recently, People, Places and Things at the Wyndhams Theatre. I say most recently, last night we went and saw Mrs Henderson Presents at the Noel Coward Theatre, round the back of the Wyndhams – as a joint birthday night out (our birthdays are 24 hours separate, so two days of fun are completely allowed).

People, Places and Things is what I want to talk about. A title which gives nothing away. Turns out, the play is about drug and alcohol addiction. It’s been given rave reviews by all who’ve seen it, our tickets cost £17 each. We were in the Upper Circle – a very Upper Upper circle – that theatre is bloody steep. I was tired and annoyed – another mainstream Italian’s denied me student discount – something I don’t generally respond well to, and the bloke sat in front of me would not stop wriggling. Meaning I had to continuously move. Which sent my little temper through the roof. But the play – the play was really what knocked me for six. It scared me, it shocked me – and it left me with a metaphorical taste in my mouth, which I had never tasted before. Never before had I left the theatre feeling dis-satisfied. Disappointed and disinterested, yes, but dissatisfaction was a new one. And that was because of the ending. The play that had picked me up and thrown me around gave me an ending which, although logical, didn’t feel quite right. It left so much to the imagination. So much I thought this a criticism, but its also the thing that made it so powerful and provocative. Its been over a week now, and not one day has gone by when I haven’t thought about it, reconsidered the ending, tried to piece together what happened, piece by piece. By combining abstract and naturalistic storylines, it really created something that has the potential to change which audiences view what theatre for good.

But what is too much? Was the play too much? Without doubt the theatre industry needs to change – in the sense that more politically and socially mobile theatre needs to be shown. But it’s still nice to see something for purely entertainment purposes, sometimes. and after all, thats what musical theatre training is for. These performers work like machines to be able to do the splits, fan kicks and belting high notes that is required in auditions, which seems to have lost its place in modern theatre. Not that I’m critiquing modern theatre – particularly modern musical theatre – but it seems to be ignoring a huge skill set held by these people who are fresh from training, with dance, singing and acting experience. Triple threat is slowly becoming Double Threat – which to be frankly honest just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Performers need technique, which comes from triple threat training.

The end. for now. IMG_4850