Posts Tagged ‘Theatro Technis’

Oh, Democracy! Theatro Technis 27 February

February 27, 2013

***

This was a musical adaptation of The Knights by Aristophanes, of which the original would have been pretty musical anyway.  There is a useful plot summary on Wikipedia–in brief, the People (Demos, an elderly householder) have been taken in by the Paphlagonian Slave (Athenian politician Cleon) and an even more shameless scoundrel–in the form of the Sausage Seller–is needed to save the day.

When I arrived, director George Eugeniou was telling someone that the previous evening’s first night had been something like a dress rehearsal; this was like being present at a workshop and only just managing to avoid taking part on occasions.  The audience were equal in number to the cast, and contained a certain number of claqueurs or at least people who hoped to appear in the show on a future occasion.

The idea of the production was that Europa was dominated by Paphlagoune, who had managed to hoodwink Demos (the people).  The advantage of this was that George Eugeniou could use actors who were not native English speakers without the usual incongruity, while the disadvantage was the lack of hatred and obscene innuendo directed at recognisable targets.   Indeed we Brits have the great advantage over our fellow Europeans that our leaders continue to engage in foreign wars out of cowardice and venality, a good Aristophanic theme that could not be used here.

I suppose it was all rather too genteel:  Marco Aponte was hardly shameless (more of your Italian diamond geezer) as the Sausage-Seller, while Jackie Skarvellis was a muted Cruella De Ville as Paphlagoune.  At least the fart jokes survived, and also provided the best of the song-and-dance numbers–in fact, I enjoyed those, even though the words could not always be distinguished.  And some of the bathetic contrast between fine words and the homely comforts  sufficient to win the heart of Demos worked as well.

Ellen Patterson impressed in the chorus–she could sing and dance, as well as looking pretty.

So why did I enjoy this?  I suppose it was the that workshop thing, the feeling We’re all in this together as someone once tried to claim.

See here for what I know of other Greek plays in London.

Later:  It took me 3 days to work out the Brexit joke (like Grexit–Greece leaving the Euro) and another two to decide it was daft since we’re not in the Euro.

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The Bacchae, Theatro Technis 02 March

March 3, 2012

**

This performance began with the brightly-dressed bacchants maenadising among the really quite lively crowd waiting to be let in, and then continued with dry ice, reasonably ecstatic dancing, and Dionysus entering as a rock god with an electric guitar.  Then it really didn’t go anywhere.  The new Ranjit Bolt translation into  bathetic rhyming couplets didn’t help and once it had made its initial impression the conceit of setting the play as in a music festival didn’t seem to be going anywhere either.  If we’re at a rock concert, then women running wild is just what you expect, not a horrifying inversion of the natural order of things, while authority undermined by a prinked and perfumed foreigner is also hardly shocking.  Which it should be.

I’m not sure that someone who didn’t already know the story would have been able to catch enough of the words to work out what was going on.  Some of the choruses where the chorus sang were actually quite effective, and the scene of Dionysus seducing Pentheus showed signs of promise.  But the thing seemed to plod along at an unvarying tempo–surely you want some kind of a slowing so that the audience can imagine with horror what will happen once Pentheus gets up Mount Cithaeron?  Or once Agave realises what she has done?

I’m afraid that what we got from Agave here was completely inadequate, as was the least impressive severed head I’ve ever seen.   It was also off-putting that Cadmus, grandfather of Pentheus,  was clearly even younger than the rest of the cast.  But I did think that given some more performances Jack Riddiford (Dionysus)  and Stuart Mortimer (Pentheus) might make something interesting of their roles.

This is really one for friends and family of the cast I think…See here for other Greek plays I know about in London.

Lads in Their Hundreds: Free and very very good

May 23, 2010

*****

Rehearsal picture from guardian.co.uk

The title of this caught my eye since I had recently grown more sympathetic to A. E. Housman, and I went along for my first visit to Theatro Technis accompanied by my cold and headache but without any very great expectations.

In the event I was deeply impressed–the performers were students from GSMD, and the show consisted of four female singers and six male ones (and two pianists) performing songs and poems on the subject of war.  The songs were arranged so that (for instance) everyone got a turn in the title number (Butterworth’s setting of Housman) and even those whose native language was  not English speakers bravely contributed to the poetry.

What I found most effective were the changes of mood when music-hall songs were interpolated for contrast; the segue from Is he an Aussie, is he, Lizzie? to And the band played Waltzing Matilda; and the return of The lads in their hundreds at the end, transformed from song to poem, followed by Butterworth’s setting of With rue my heart is laden.  The cast showed absolute commitment to communicating with their audience in every way possible and no praise could be too high for them of for Iain Burnside, who devised and directed the whole thing.

There’s an interesting interview with Burnside here, and I’ve scanned in a list of the numbers below, together with some credits:

LADS IN THEIR HUNDREDS

Glyn Maxwell from My grandfather at the Pool
Butterworth With Rue my heart is laden
Butterworth The lads in their hundreds
Somervell The street sounds to the Soldiers’ tread
Wilfred Owen The Send-off
Elgar War Song
Jessie Pope Socks
Darewski Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers
Britten Slaughter
Carl Sandburg Grass
lreland Her Song
Siegfried Sassoon from Death-Bed
lreland The Cost
Brian Elias Meet me in the Green Glen
Butterworth ls my team ploughing
Butterworth Think no more, lad
lvor Gurney First Time ln
Trad arr Hazell Ar Hyd y Nos
Lincoln Kirstein Snatch
lves He is there!
Edward Rushton Life’s an ocean crossing
Kerry Dinneen from Kurdish Blankets
Edward Rushton Agony
Jimmy Webb Galveston
Richard Swanson Baghdad Email
Bridge Journey’s End
lreland The Soldier’s Return
Flotsam and Jetsam ls he an Aussie, is he, Lizzie?
Eric Bogle And the Band played Waltzing Matilda
AE Housman The lads in their hundreds
Butterworth With Rue my heart is laden

LADS IN THEIR HUNDREDS

Devised and directed by Iain Burnside

Victoria Newlyn Movement
Emma Belli Designer
Giuseppe Belli Designer
Jarnes Southby Lighting Designer
Pamela Lidiard Producer

Nazan Fikret Soprano
Katie Grosset Mezzo-soprano
Aurelia Jonvaux Soprano
Anna Livermore Soprano

lan Beadle Tenor
Adam Crockatt Tenor
Osian Gwynn Baritone
Barney Rea Bass
Ashley Riches Baritone
Luke Tracey Tenor

Maite Aguirre Pianist
Patrick Leresche Pianist

Jack Chandler Technical support
Fernando Pinho Technical support
Molly Sayers Technical support

More Greek Drama in London 2010

May 3, 2010

Picture of Euripides

I’ve come across the following items in updating my bookmarks.

The White Bear in Kennington will be performing Euripides’ Hippolytus from 18 May to 13 June; details here.  Interestingly enough, the Blue Elephant in Camberwell, which is about a mile away, also did Hippolytus a year or so ago. And that was strangely reminiscent of a production of Mikhail Bulgakov’s ‘Heart of a Dog’ in the same venue (under a different name) fifteen years previously.  Maybe this means that compulsive celibacy is of urgent interest for us inhabitants of South London.

The Bridewell will be doing a kind-of-Medea from 29 August to 4 September; they certainly did a Japanesey Medea of it 3 or 4 years ago, and there may have been others in the interim.

The Young Vic are advertising a free Elektra from 23 June to 3 July; perhaps free Elektra  means that Anne Carson, who is supposed to be doing the translation, has disappeared into the Canadian backwoods with her fee.

Theatro Technis are advertising a series of workshops on Greek theatre (see left-hand column) from 13 June to 8 August.  But maybe that was last year!  I’ve now had an email from them saying:

The workshops have now finished. We are at present concetrating on the 5 plays on the Oedipus saga. We presented Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus ain April nd we are now auditioning for The Phoenician Women by Euripides to be performed at the end of June.