I SALOME Steven Berkotl's minimalist 1920s' staging of Wilde's unguent play has had the pundits raving. Book now.
Gate Theatre. Dublin. Royal Lyceum Theatre (Festival) 225 5756.14.17,18.19 Aug 7.30pm.15.16Aug 6.30pm. 17. 19 Aug 2.30pm. £4.50-£8.
Simon Bayly selects this week’s highlights from the large world theatre contingent. Previews belo ' and overleaf.
I DIMINOS/LA NIT Vibrant street spectacle troupe irom Barcelona playing two shows. one inside and one out. promise ‘a heathen ieast'.
Els Comedients (Festival), George Heriot's School Grounds (Dimonis) 225 5756.13.17 Aug 9.30pm. £5. Royal Lyceum Theatre (La Nil) 225 5756. 15Aug 6.30pm.17 Aug 9.30pm. 24.50420.
I PO0R Li S A New Russian company. 0n tlikitskikh. unknown outside the USSR. likely to surprise with their dark adaptation of the Karamasln novella. Traverse Theatre (Fringe Venue 15). 15—20 Aug. 2.45pm; 22-27 Aug. 5pm; 29 Aug-2 Sept. noon.
I THE PERFECT PARTY New play from American Fringe First winners. returning for the 14th year. Festival Theatre 080 (Fringe Venue 102) 15. 17. 22, 24. 29. 31 Aug. 4pm. £3 (£2).
I KAGEKYIO Innovative company trom Japan promise a richly rewarding combination of music. dance and language in their retelling ol a the tragic tale by Chikamatzu, the Japanese Shakespeare. Lasenkan Theatre Company. Mandela Theatre atthe Vlee Red 0ar(Frlnge Venue 79)2291003. 14-26 Aug 5pm. 23 Aug-2 Sept 0.30pm. £3.00 (£2.00).
I 80 WHERE TO? Black South African company much liked in in 1907 move beyond agitprop with a new play revolving around three pregnant teenagers. Sablkwa Players. Assembly Rooms (Fringe Venue 3) 226 2420. 11 Aug-2 Sept 4pm. £5.00 (£4.00).
I STAR J08 Accomplished Parisian mime-based theatre with an intelligence that puts them a notch or two above similar groups retum ailerthelr '07 success with a surreal look at the Euro-yuppie. TheAtre de La Mie de Pain. Assembly Rooms (Fringe Venue 3) 226 2428. 11-19 Aug 10pm. 20 Aug 3.45pm. £5.50 (£4.50).
Theatre from Japan has been one of the great Festival successes in recent years. Simon Bayly looks at three modern companies who draw inspiration from centuries of unbroken theatrical traditions.
‘It didn‘t seem to cause any problems on Japan Airlines, but British Airways weren't at all sure what they were dealing with,‘ says Mary Lou Prince, musing on the problems of bringing a 7-foot long bass koto (a Japanese instrument) halfway around the world. Californian-born Prince is composer for the Omicho Theate Company. one of three Japanese groups appearing at the Festival. No Ninagawa extravaganza or death-defying Butoh dancers this year, but Omicho, the Lasenkan Company and the Yokohama Boat Theatre offer a triple opportunity to see a uniquely imaginative kind of
theatre that synthesizes music, dance. storytelling and visual elements to an extent rarely seen anywhere else in the world.
Directors and dramatists from Brecht to Brook have all found inspiration in traditional Japanese theatres and for many they still open doors to new ideas. Based outside of the Tokyo sprawl in Kanazawa, Omicho number several Americans in their ranks alongside Japanese members. Their show ‘Just Between The Three Of Us’ is based on the case of two twins found abandoned in London who spoke in unison with identical voice patterns. with one of the twins played by a puppet manipulated by an on-stage puppeteer dressed in black, as in the traditional Bunraku puppet theatre. Prince emphasizes the multiple layers of J apanese-style performance: ‘What’s so fascinating is the triangle between musicians, actors and story-teller. There’s no central star or
single centre ofattention.‘
Meanwhile ', The Lasenkan Company from near Osaka have won much acclaim at home for their series of performances of the works of Chikamatsu. the 17th century Japanese master playwright, which they present in a traditional playhouse erected on disused factory sites. ‘Many Japanese theatres are inﬂuenced by European and American styles but it was not a g00d way to express our feelings.’ Currently rehearsing in London parks, they bring his Kagekiyo. ‘a tale of
honour, revenge and love’ inspired again by Noh and Bunraku, which also features Japanese classical music. songs and dance.
Last but definitely not least, The International Festival hosts the Yokohama Boat Company. who perform at home on a ship anchored in the Nakamura River, with a mask play entitled Oguri Hangan. Terute Hime. 10 years in the making, this spectacular retelling of a medieval epic mixes Japanese and Indonesian theatrical and musical traditions in what promises to be a riot of melodramatic imagination.
Though all contemporary theatres. all three groups share a common aim in trying to marry the Japanese virtues ofcontinuity and tradition with a more radical blurring of styles and forms. Don’t worry about your sketchy command ofJapanese — these theatres are drawing on beautifully eloquent visual and aural vocabularies, beside which language barriers seem strangely
I Just The Three Of Us (Fringe) Omicho Theatre Company, The Netherbow Centre (Venue 30), 21 Aug—2 Sept, (not Sun) 9pm.
I Kageklyo (Fringe) Lasenkan Theatre Company. Mandela Theatre (Venue 79) 14—26 Aug, 5pm; 28 Aug—2 Sept 8.30pm.
I Oguri HanganJerute Hime (Festival) Yokohama BoatTheatre, St Bride’s Centre 21-26 Aug, 7.30pm
(Mats 24, 26 2.30pm).
THE BEST OF POLISH THEATRE
No. unfortunately not the greatest experimental hits live on stage — this selection of work from Poland is prerecorded. Nevertheless. it provides a rare opportunity to sample some of the most innovative and powerful theatre seen in Europe over the last 20 years. Obscure and difficult it may be at times. but the debt the theatre of Eumpe and America owes to Poland is enormous in terms of both ideas and ideals.
Janusz Marek. director of the Videotheque at the Marsaw Palace Of Science and Culture is currently
compiling a comprehensive video archive of work from some of the outstanding companies of the last twenty years. Janusz was in Scotland last year for the Third Eye Centre‘s Polish Realities season and returns to present six different programmes featuring work from many of the groups who have appeared at the Festival and Fringe. Amongst the selection are excerpts from performances directed by Andrze j Wajda.
After missing the Tadeusz Kantor (the ‘godfather' of alternative Polish theatre) retrospective season in Paris, those in the know won’t want to pass by a showing of his Let The Artists Die on 17 August.
I The Best 01 Polish Theatre (Fringe) . Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425.14—19 Aug. 12pm. £2 (£1 .50).
Despite recent inroads at institutions like the National Theatre. black actors are still being denied the opportunity to play classical roles and. perhaps more crucially. to train for them. Founded in 1983. London‘s Sass Theatre Company are currently trying to set up a training theatre specifically for black performers. In their search for new skills. part of their activities include exchange with ROSE
from Boston. USA. a black group who specialize in taking the Bard out to places he’s never been before. Peter Eyo. Sass’ UK director explains: ‘They train black actors to go out into reform schools. working with Shakespeare. They introduce the plays, the kids get interested. pick up the language and start improvising with things like rap — bringing something of their own to it.‘
Rather than the interesting possibility, say. of a rap Comedy of Errors, ROSE have chosen to bring over a new play. Smitty's Blues. based on the taped reminiscences of a black man journeying in the Deep South during the 505
and 605. Charting his turbulent 23-year marriage . it‘s directed by Decima Francis. who led a black ensemble in Noah ’3 Wife at the Traverse last year. ‘It's about a man whdihever became a hero in his own life. ofideals never realized and hopes that are still born' writes author Carol Hantman. Performed by ROSE members. you can expect a committed and powerful set of performances from actors whose work is rooted in the dynamic world of urban black American culture. (Simon Bayly)
I Smitty's Blues (Fringe) Sass Theatre Company. Richard Demarco Gallery (Venue 22) 557 0707, l4—l9th Aug. 12.30pm. £3.50 (£2.50).
The druidy druids ofthe Dublin theatre junket are not renowned for their abilities in distinguishing the pretentious from the innovative; all that is not by O‘Casey. Shaw or a Derryman with his heart on his sleeve tending to be be termed with the former term of appreciation. Thus. the Gate Theatre‘s decision to invite Steven Berkoff to direct Wilde's Salomé could be said to have been asking for it. Yet the Gate are not ones to balk at the bark of a highly critical audience as anyone who saw their brilliant rc-intcrprclation of Juno and the Payka in International Festival in
The List ll— 17 August 1989 33