FESTIVAL THEATRE l
. NEW LAvs-
experimenting— the first show we did was a classic text by Slawomir Mrozek. yet last year‘s was AAA/IAAAAAAA . an anti-performance piece. ‘Our performances speak about travel; it is one of the tnost important thingsin life. Not travel from Edinburgh to London. but travel in the
mind and in learning. We are interested in the flight into the imagination. Travelling is a process. an end in itself. We don‘t fight for paradise here and now. but for the possibilities of discovery implicit in the voyage. This is one of the themes of Aquarium .‘
Aquarium. a montage of
a text by the exiled
surrealist Radovam Lusic.
is a show of pictures from the imagination. ‘lt isa performance where we explore the borderline between the child and the man. and ask why men are not like children.‘ says Borojevic. ‘We search for the moment when Childhood ends. \Ne do this through a combination of mime and music. so there is a minimum ofdialogue. We also hope to use shadows. The image of the journey is constantly in view. because we move from outside reality into an interior ofdreams and fantasy.‘
Daska also perform outside their Pleasance venue to unemployed peoplc.who might not normally get the chance to see their show. Yugoslav alternative theatre seems to be finding ways of breaking down the barriers between popular theatre for the community and experimental. performance-orientated work. (Nicola Robertson) IAquarium Daska. Pleasance. (venue 33). 556 6550. I3 Aug—3 Sept. (not 21.25. 29Aug). 8.30pm. £4 (£2.50). [Fr]
BY THE POOL/ HUGH MILLER
Writers with several plays on the Fringe tend to have names like Tom Stoppard or Samuel Beckett. Amongst them this year though is Glasgow Born Stewart Conn. with two very different plays. At the Netherbow is Hug/t Miller (1802-1856) . a monologue about the Victorian writer and thinker. and at the Lyceum is By the Pool. set in contemporary South Africa.
‘()ne recurring theme in the plays.‘ says (‘onn. ‘Is the man who‘s in the middle — he‘s tugged in both directions. between extremes.‘ For l lugh Miller. this was manifested in his struggle to reconcile religious fundamentalism with the new Victorian theories of evolution. a struggle which could well have led to his suicide. The moment that By the Pool pinpoints is where words give way to action and clever reasoning to passionate violence: a solution that (‘onn can't help feeling isinevitable as a result ofthe intolerable institution of apartheid in South Africa.
By the Pool is (‘onn's theatrical response to spending two months in South Africa in 1984 under the terms of a travel scholarship from the
$ T. ‘ s- W T i . I. I Lnglish Speaking Lnton. A
‘l was hesitant about going because 1 abhorred apartheid.‘ explains Conn. ‘I came back with every fibre of my being shattered by the extent to which I'd underestimated the abhorrence of the total monolithic killing effect of apartheid.‘ Four years on in the comfort of his lidinburgh study. Stewart (‘onn still shudders at the thought. But to turn his anger into a worthwhile force in theatrical terms was no straighforward task. ‘I think apartheid is such an obscene debasement of the human spirit that there is no achievement in w ritittg a play that only says that. If one only comes out having heard that apartheid is
ev il. I don’t think one has achieved anything in imaginative terms.’
So (‘onn shaped the play to encompass three couples from contrasting backgrounds who are spurred into action by an outsider. 'The characters are pirouetting on thin ice in the first scene and there are little things planted- omens. potential question marks. worry . and lwant the ice to stay there and the characters to do the dance. hit! us to know that maybe the ice is thawing. I want to prolong that wonderful feeling in the theatre of trepitlitiotts expectation.‘
To retain the play ‘s credibility. ('onnworked closely with the actors. draw ing on their real life experiences. and he has tried not to simplify the situation. ‘l'm not labelling any character as good or evil. There'sa danger of a political stance. however justified. hardening and becoming about issues and forgetting about people.’ Nonetheless. in a climate as extreme as South Africa. (‘onn has been forced to concede that any solution to the problem is highly unlikely toinvolve violence. 'That'san intuitive response. I haven't logically worked it out. It‘s truthful withinthc bounds of the stage. but it also has maybe just a tiny grain of validity asa response [0 what 1 observ ed in South Africa.‘
I By the Pool (‘o-I’roducers. Lyceum Studio (v entte 35). 22‘) (my)? I). I2 Aug 3 Sept (not Suns). l lam. £4 (£2.50): I Hugh Miller (1802—1856) Netherbow Arts ('entrc (venue 3“). 556057"). 15 Aug-3 Sept (not Suns) 8pm. £4 ( £3). [l-‘r|.
CONNECTIONS Set in his native Russia. Alexander Gelman‘sA .Ilan ll’irlt ('onnet‘tionx is a study of an already shaky marriage. when an external incident forces husband and wife to Confront each other.
.\'ot the sort of material that tnakes for knockabout comedy. perhaps. but Bill Paterson. playing opposite Marty (‘ruickshank. perceives it in an interesting light. ‘The blurb in the brochure tends to suggest that it'sa deeply searing psychological insight. but
it's also a kind ofblack farce. It‘s like Dario I-'o written by Arthur Miller.‘
It was this very visual farce element that made Paterson keen to put the play on stage when he first performed it in a radio version a couple ofyears ago. lt'salso been a fair while since Paterson last performed on stage; even longer since he last played the Fringe (inJohn Byrne's ll'riter'x ('ramp ); and remarkably. it will be his first time as a direct employee of the Traverse. ‘I remember the old Traverse building in the l.awnmarket .' he says. ‘When just to go in there gave you a sense of dangerV
Paterson is happy to return to the freedom and the immediate control that an actor has in live theatre. With a wide-ranging career. Paterson is amusingly off-hand about his approach to the different media. ‘With me. performing on stage is just the same old thing. except louderl'
"This play is totally unquirky.‘ explains Paterson. ‘But there's good scope for a sort of grotesquery. (‘ioing emotionally crazy and just letting it ripl' ( Mark Fisher).
I A Man With Connections Traverse Theatre. (irassntarket (venue l5). l2 Aug—3 Sept. times
vary. £6 (£3 at Traverse only). ll-'r|.
RADIO SING SING Since appearing as part of the now sadly defunct Midland (iroup at the 1985 Fringe. Simon Thorne and Philip MacKenzie have established Man Act as one of the more original companies working in the margins between scripted theatre and more physically orientated performance. ()ver the years. the two have developed an intimate
stage rapport which they invest with technical skill and a freely inventive imagination - previous productions have explored uncharted areas of masculinity with a sensitivity that is ultimately extremely moving.
Radio Sing Sing their new show is billed as a journey of sorts. ‘a stirring tale of adventure set in Papua New (iuinea in 1925' It synthesizes spoken text and story-line with formal choreography to produce what Philip Mackenzie describes as ‘probably the most accessible piece we've done.‘ He came up with the idea of two explorers on a pioneering expedition into the tropical jungle off the top of his head. But a tripto the Papua New (iuinea (‘onsulate while in Australia provided not only a historical background for the story but also the diaries and some 16mm film left by one of the first littropeans to penetrate into the country's interior in search of gold.
Working with writer (‘hris Broadribb and director Steve Shill. they developed the complete scenario of an Attstralian and an Englishman adventuring into the unknown. MacKen/ie describes the result as ‘a bit like (ienet'sThe Balcony: a man goes into a hotel. asks for Room 2-1-1.
. and the journey begins.‘ Setting off formal evening dress and I‘)2(ls' dance music against the ‘sing sing' — the primitive rituals of jungle life -- the production explores the analogy in the robust yet graceful visual language of the group's earlier work (Simon Bayley).
I Radio Sing Sing Man
Act . Theatre \Vorkshop (\"enue 20) 220 5425. I5 Aug—3 Sept. (ipm. £3 (£2.50). |t~‘r)
A late arrival on this year's I-‘ringe is ()l/iarev I)(’ I’t’r/tl. or Silt/rivals (i/ant't'. a production by Brazilian company Arte
The List l2— lb‘ August 1988