This Week 25th June 2017
This Week Sunday 25th June
What I Saw (half of) - Hir at Bush Theatre
(https://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/event/hir/) - Until 22nd July
I think I'm cursed to only see half of plays that have an interval. It's a bit of an in-joke with my fringe/devised/wanky theatre peers, who are used to performing and doing an hour of a show, an hour and a half at the most (unless it's special and is a 12-hour endurance piece) than of a play that has an interval.
I'm not having much luck with intervals at the moment (after peacing out during Kite Runner)
This time however it wasn't due to the quality of the play but the temperature of the sun, who bared down all day on the Bush Theatre during the hottest day of the year so far. Already hot theatres only get hotter when the stage lights come on and spending an hour or so in what is essentially a sweat box does be very good for actors. So the play was cancelled half way through (And shout out to the Bush Theatre who were professional and efficient in their apology and their offers for refunds etc)
Maybe this is a good example when it's better to have an interval?
It's got to be said that I was pretty bummed out to miss the second half as it was a very engrossing play. I didn't know what to expect from Hir and I will admit that I went mostly to see my buddy, Griffyn Gilligan (Max in Hir). It's always a gamble, supporting friends but this one paid off.
Astonishingly relevant, Hir explores a family where 'normal' gender expectations have been ruptured. Issac (Arthur Darvill) returns after a stint in a war zone, disgraced after taking drugs, to find his once brutal domineering father, debilitated by a stroke and emasculated with dresses and clown make-up, his mother empowered by her stubborn refusal not to clean their home and her and a sister (Max) that is now a brother and insists on the pronoun hir. A new vocabulary has been adopted, new thinking is being celebrated and it is all too much for Issac who is vomiting at the sound of a blender.
Hir embraces the vocabulary of a new Tumblr'd generation who are discovering the spectrum of gender and going about it with ferocity. I've been exposed to this on my trips around the internet but have never heard words I'm familiar (mostly pronouns and labels) or arguments out loud. It's something I'm interested in, finding my place as an ally to the LGBT+ community and wanting to be supportive of my friends. I have that cisgendered, white, hetero fear of saying the wrong thing. I wanted to come out of the show knowing a little bit better or maybe being inspired to find out more. How far do we go to embrace the unfamiliar?
I was keen to see how this would resolve, or not resolve in that matter, in this particular family with their various levels of acceptance and anger.
I was also promised a feather boa.
I'm going to try and see it again and I would encourage anyone to give the whole thing again.
This was a wee performance and film showing at the Hove Museum that will probably never happen again but reminded me of the power of puppetry. I was invited by Touched Theatre as a Brighton puppeteer, to come make up an audience for their group of young people they have been working with over the last year. They didn't really need me, as there was a good group of loved ones to applaud and cheer them on.
Madtopia was a series of puppet films, ranging from lip syncing karaoke to short stories.
There were nerves abound but you wouldn't have noticed as each teenager presented their film and brought out their puppets to show everyone afterwards. There was that shy-pride that I think we all remember having when we were young.
It was wonderful to see these kids play using their puppets, to be made brave and emboldened by puppetry to explore not the most obvious of performance styles with a lot of bravery.
Hove Musum & Art Gallery have a cracking local puppeteer exhibition (The Art of Puppetry: Making Magic in the Museum)which is also VERY worth going to if you're about town. Spend a good 30 mins having a good look and there are making events during the weekend as well so don't miss out)
What I’ve Read
Self - Help For Your Nerves is the kind of book that I would usually reject just from looking at the book cover, promising a cure for your nerves. Blah. But you know what they say. Recommended to me by a good friend (who also I have been pleasantly surprised at its contents. Written in the 60's by Dr Claire Weekes it reads ahead of its time and is one of the first books to not put the source of anxiety in the mind. Never have I read a book that has grounded 'nervous' illness in.. well the physical nerves of the body. Never have I read a book that has tackled almost exclusively the bodily sensations and physical symptoms of anxiety and depression which is the shit I've been trying to deal with.
Not quite an inspiration in an artistic sense (but who knows really when you work autobiographically) but I'm finding the phrases and the biological theory being lodged into my vocabulary. I'm finding myself chatting easily about nerves and nerves systems and it is opening up a channel of empathy for myself and others which are centred around the physical and tangible rather than the ephemera of the mind.
Worth a read to get your head round nervous breakdowns with breathtaking clarity. And that shit is real.
What I'm Doing
Reading. Reading. Reading. Just bloody reading. Got a good deal of research to do after a paper abstract of mine was accepted for a conference in August. Will bring more as things get confirmed etc Now I've got to write the bloody thing. Hopefully it sounds just as good as I thought it would do in my head.
Also returned to the On-Soap studio to record another episode of Another Anxiety Attack which you can read more about in this blog
Looking Forward To -
Focus Group - TOOT and Ovalhouse @ The Old Market
Hir (Second Half maybe)
Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman