Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Prometheus Bound, Greenwood Theatre 1430 8 February

February 8, 2017

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At the end:  chorus–Prometheus–Io

Prometheus Bound certainly made an interesting choice for this year’s KCL Greek Play in Greek.  One question is whether it actually is a play or merely a scene-setting for following parts of a trilogy.  Nothing much happens apart from various characters coming to sympathise with or talk sense into Prometheus and him referring to the injustices he has suffered and the dark secret he knows.

I remember a production at the Soho Theatre where the clientele were expected to be satisfied by a combination of the manly heaving of the hero’s bare breast and chains.  Lots of chains.  But here it wasn’t quite like that.  We had a female Prometheus, and Oceanus, and whichever it is of Force and Violence that doesn’t actually say anything.

More generally, I’m afraid that there was no sign of a solution to the severe problems posed by staging this piece.  It started off with projections of various modern figures, especially Donald Trump, and you could see how Prometheus might be a kind of Nelson Mandela in captivity, but his captors needed him more than he needed them.  Or Trotsky perhaps, who thought he had the earth-shaking prophecy and was a prisoner to his own well-founded fears. But nothing came of this possible line of thought.

Rather than being chained to a cliff with a wedge through her chest, our Prometheus had to top of a table to call her own.  For some reason sound effects and lianas suggested that this was in the jungle somewhere.  Loud sound effects meant you couldn’t hear what was being said, though the Greek verse sounded to be spoken competently enough.  At the end, Prometheus’s final defiance got lost in underwhelming stroboscopic effects..

On the positive side, the entrance of the chorus was effective, as were some of their choreographed moves.  Likewise for Io’s entry and exit, though I’m afraid she did rather remind me of the domovoy from Morphine.  And indeed there were similar surtitling issues, with lots of text appearing some time after the event.

If you ask what I would have done–well, have a much larger chorus and have them sing and dance.  In fact, have them on stage the whole time and have them  hold up the surtitles on placards, to give the idea of a debate of some importance not people  coming on stage and exchanging words about mouldy mythology…But making something out of Prometheus Bound would be difficult with the best performers and technical resources in the world…

 

 

 

 

 

Morphine, Etcetera Theatre 7 February

February 8, 2017

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Picture from Anna Denshina’s Twitter feed

So let’s think–what problems might there be with staging Bulgakov’s ‘Morphine’, about a country doctor who falls victim to…err…morphine? Well, putting a non-dramatic work on the stage is always problematic–if the author had wanted to write a play he’d have done things differently. And especially in a case like the present, where the original text is in the first person and reflects the hero’s diseased apprehension of reality more than actual happenings between people. The latter is where you need to have things in a play. Here we also have some more objective narration from ‘Notes of a young doctor’ brought in to set the scene as well.

That said, the show combined the Russian tradition of having music in lots of places where you don’t want it with the English one of having characters shuffle on, deliver their lines through a mask of embarrassment, and then shuffle of again. The cast members showed various levels of comfort with appearing on stage and the Russian language…that said, I thought that Anna Danshina put in a good and affecting performance as the love interest called Anna.

There were also sutitling issues–the surtitles contained a lot of text at one go and tended to catch up after the event.  But I suspect the proportion of the audience who neither knew Russian nor the storyline of ‘Morphine’ was rather small…

Daily Mail: Enemies of the People

November 5, 2016

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She’s quite right of course–‘Enemies of the Public’ in English is either calqued from Russian or a translation of Ibsen’s En folkefiendeThere is ‘public enemy’ in English but that means something rather different. In French Revolutionary parlance,  ennemi du peuple is (or was) possible, but rather less likely than ennemi public.  I  don’t even know what народный враг would mean in Russian, since народный is strictly positive in its connotations…

‘And the Lord said…’ (Boris Khersonsky)

July 28, 2016

And the Lord said:  Katsap, where is Khokhol thy brother?
And Katsap answered: I am not his keeper Lord
And the Lord said: You sat to eat together
You sang his songs, you put him to the sword!

And Katsap said: Khokhol is himself at fault,
He is a traitor, greedy, he nibbled all the fruit,
He has artillery in the yard and a gun in the vault
And he puts my first-born right into dispute.

And the Lord said: Not first-born, but born to hate!
Forgetting, Katsap, that the Lord is father to you.
For I will say to Peter, who stands at Heaven’s gate
I will say to Peter, not to open to you.

And the Lord said: Turk, where is thy brother, Khach?
And the Turk answered: Am I his keeper, Lord?
And the Lord said: You thought I would not catch
Weeping from the ground, would not hear, not reward.

And the Lord said: Kraut, where is thy brother, Yid?
And Kraut said, I am not his keeper, nay.
And the Lord said: His blood is yelling what you did,
For vengeance is mine, and I will repay.

И сказал Господь: “Кацап, где брат твой, Хохол?”
Ответил Кацап: “Не знаю, я не сторож Хохлу!”
И сказал Господь: “Ты с ним садился за стол,
ты пел его песни и ты толкаешь его во мглу!”

И ответил Кацап: “Хохол – он сам виноват.
Он – предатель, он жадина, он яблоки все надкусил,
у него в огороде пушка, а в шкафу автомат,
он старшему брату, мне, противится что есть сил!”

И сказал Господь: “Ты не старший, ты страшный брат!
Ты забыл, Кацап, что Отец твой – Бог.
Вот скажу Петру, что стоит возле райских врат,
вот скажу Петру, он не пустит тебя на порог.

И сказал Господь: “Турок, где брат твой, Хач?”
И ответил турок “Не знаю! Я не сторож Хачу!”.
И сказал Господь: “От земли возносится плач!
Ты думал, что я не услышу, что я смолчу?”

И сказал Господь: “Фриц, где же брат твой, Жид?”.
И ответил Фриц: “Не знаю, я не сторож Жидам!”
И сказал Господь “Кровь Жида за тебя говорит.
Ибо Мое есть отмщение и Аз воздам.”

An enigmatic pipe fitting

July 25, 2016

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At first I thought the problem was just that this thing (whatever it might be) had  come off the soil pipe (as I suppose it is) at the back of the house.

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But it turned out to be split.  In fact, the whole point of the iron thing in the middle was to rust and make it split.

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Since neither Wickes nor B&Q nor two hardware stores in Lewisham had anything at all similar, it was a case of bodging up a job with plumbers’ putty:

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Further investigation shows no sign of such a thing on the Internet. Maybe it doesn’t exist. Certainly the self-splitting pipe fitting doresn’t sound like such a good idea…

Barber Shop, Thomas Lane SE6

July 20, 2016

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We present the opening times for this barber’s in Catford, since there doesn’t seem to be any reliable information on the Internet. It was certainly open at 0915 today…and I got a haircut…

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Immanuel Kant’s account of beauty

May 17, 2015

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We have been asked to explain Kant’s account of beauty, so here goes.

Kant starts off from the idea that the sensation of beauty is both subjective and universal.  It is subjective because it belongs to the subject (perceiver) rather than the object.  In particular, there are no rules that will make the object beautiful to us if we do not perceive it to be so.  It is universal because the statement ‘X is beautiful’ carries the implication ‘I like X and you ought to like X’.  This is different from the normal situation of liking ice-cream for instance where there is no insistence that anyone else should like it.

So how can something–a kind of pleasure–be both subjective and universal.  In Kant’s thought, pleasure is seen as springing from meeting some need (like hunger for instance).  So what need are we talking about here?  Kant suggests that it is the need for understanding.  But beauty is not about understanding as such–Kant gives the example of an innkeeper’s son in a bush imitating a nightingale, which song ceases to be beautiful once he is found out.  Instead it is the promise of understanding that beauty provides.

So that explains how the sensation of beauty can be both subjective and universal.  By analogy with hunger, there is no particular difficulty with saying that the catalogue of things that are beautiful will be different in different times and places, since what will satisfy your hunger (which is surely something real) will depend on what you are used to and what you’ve eaten recently.

Ingenious, or what?

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