WORLD THEATRE IN EDINBURGH
The title World Theatre Season suggests gravitas, splendour and a great sense of occasion — all of which are present in Frank Dunlop’s inspired and awesome gathering of drama for the fortieth Edinburgh Festival. It is a showcase of fine
; theatre not only from throughout the world, but also in its many guises, paying tribute to its range — the
magical, the spectacular. the
? ethically powerful, the i experimental, the formally
beautiful, the classical, the outrageously funny and the bizarre.
From Johannesburg. Market Theatre bring Born in the RSA by Barney Simon and Asinamali by Mbongeni Ngema. two contrasting pieces of theatre that address the same situation - the desperate one in South Africa. Market Theatre have been visitors to the Fringe in the past (their sister company. Earth Players are on the Fringe this year at the Traverse Theatre with Bopha.’) and it is good to see them being brought to the Festival itself. and also playing at The Dome.
Two masters of their craft, best
known to most of us as film
The Flying itaromazovsw
4 The List 8 - 21 August
luminaries, bring stark and powerful plays by three groundbreaking writers. Ingmar Bergman’s productions of Henrik Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman and Strindberg‘s Miss Julie (by the Bavarian State Theatre and the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm respectively) offer the chane to see one great master working on another, while from Poland comes a production by the celebrated Andrzej Wajda of Dostoievsky’s harrowing, psychogical novel about the criminal mind, Crime and Punishment adapted for the stage.
Moving South, the grand dame of ‘ Spanish theatre, Nuria Espert performs Lorca’s Yerma while the Compania de Jose Luis Gomez present his Blood Wedding - a double celebration of the great Spanish writer in the fiftieth anniversary of his death in the Spanish Civil War.
Last year the hit of the Festival was the breathtakingly beautiful production of Macbeth by Toho Company from Japan. This year they return with an interpretation of the Greek tragedy Medea which
promises to be equally spectacular. Meanwhile from China, another sort ofspectacle -— the circus: the Chinese Magical Circus present one of their most ancient arts.
Also making a welcome return this year are the Flying Karamazov
V «5",; ' TE," .3915. .v
1,».71 ' ‘ -.
Brothers. If you didn’t see them last year, make sure you do this time. Wildly ﬂamboyant jugglers, they take your breath away and are fulsomely witty with it. Last year they (almost) juggled with kittens — will it be crocodiles this year? Their show is, aptly for the year of RLS, entitled Juggle and Hyde. And if they aren’t zany enough for you, two other companies vie for first place. Theatre de la Salamandre perform in nonsense language and are visually bizarre , while The Wooster Group (see below) are positively off the wall.
t, Bergman's John Gabriel Borkman
On the home front the celebration of art and culture looks back to the ﬂourishing period of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment with a production of Douglas by John Home and The Gentle Shepherd Allan Ramsay’s ballad-opera. Quite how Harry Lauder ﬁts into the picture I’m not sure, but there he is, brought to the quick by Jimmy Logan in Lauder and since he is, in one sense, a Scottish institution, well, so be it. Rikki Fulton is back in A Wee Touch oi Class, an adaptation of Moliere‘s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Rikki Fulton is very funny, but there’s more of him than Moliere. Well worth a visit is Hogg: The Shepherd Justified a delightful, funny and illuminating portrayal of the so-called ‘Ettrick Shepherd’, written by Frederic Mohr and performed by Donald Douglas, if you don’t go out feeling drouthy, then you haven’t yet caught the real spirit of the Festival. . All Festival events and venues appear in the free Official Festival brochure, widely available.
THE FUTURE OF AN ARTFORM
The Wooster Group is the name of America’s foremost contemporary theatre ensemble. For the past ten years they have been giving the most radical performances the American stage has ever seen. They are unlike anything yet produced in Britain. This year’s World Theatre Season at the Edinburgh International Festival sees their British debut with a performance entitled ‘The Road To Immortality (Part Two)’.
The group’s Edinburgh appearance and subsequent British tour (London and Cardiff) has been
organised by Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff and one of the co-ordinators, Neil Wallace, talked to The List about their work. ‘Really, you can’t describe what they do in conventional terms,’ he explained, ‘because they leave behind the usual notions of story and character. I just know that some of the genteel Edinburgh critics are going to call it performance art, but I wuld emphasise that it’s not. The best thing you can say about The Wooster Group’s work is what Theater Communications Review said, that “what audiences are looking at is the future of an artform”.
‘I mean, you can attempt to describe it; the performance
, combines random readings from the
Leary generation of the late Sixties in the US, peOple like Ginsberg, Burroughs, Kerouac, with some quite extraordinarily frenetic material dealing with the Salem witch hunts of the 17th century, which incidentally had to be rewritten after a lawsuit from Arthur Miller. They also use two video monitors, as well as forming a rock group on stage and playing two numbers, with The Velvet Underground on the soundtrack too. Again I would have to stress that it’s something to be experienced rather than talked about. They are working in the politics of ecstasy, in the search for higher consciousness, in hysteria and interrogation.’
The Wooster Grouo
Wallace, however, was cagey about the reaction the show might arouse in Edinburgh. ‘Well, they played the prestigious Adelaide Festival and there were a lot of walkouts. Personally, I think that’s a good sign, for it shows that they really are years ahead of their time. All credit to Frank Dunlop for booking them, it shows a certain vision on his part, but I think people who haven’t seen any kind of radical work before may find them hard to take. Put it this way, in my job I see maybe 200 shows a year: I’ve seen this performance five times and it still provides the most hair-raising, shocking moments I've experienced in the theatre.’ The Road to (mortality (Part Two), The Wooster Group, Churchill Theatre, Morningside Road. 12—18 Aug, 8pm. £5.50 (£4). [EIF]