Bik and white
‘Teatr Blik’s attitude is that you see the performance, you don’t understand it all as you’re watching it, but afterwards as you think and talk about it, you can start placing bits of it.‘
Paul Bogen is Teatr Blik’s manager outside their native Poland and he’s well aware of the clash ofcultures when they play away from home. But being earnest young Eastern Europeans, they’re not inclined to compromise. ‘Their work is a long process,’ he continues, ‘and they don’t think the audience process should be just the 90 minutes either.’
Already 18 months in the making, The Last Dance will need as long again before Teatr Blik regard it as complete. ‘The show started before Solidarity came to power,‘ Bogen explains, ’and it was developed over- that period as well. They start with improvisations, then develop characters and keep changing it in quite a laborious way. They believe that what has happened in Poland since the war has ruined the country and that all those people suffered during the war for practically nothing.’
The piece consists of a series of indirectly related scenes which explore the history and contemporary culture of Poland. Taking up issues surrounding the church, anti-semitism, Nazi collaboration and Auschwitz, it moves forward to examine the major problems of emigration (or ﬂying in Polish slang) and the limitations of the West. Performed without words, their narrative theatre uses slow, measured movements to express political ideas, with the kind of heavy, romantic expressionism associated with Eastern Europe.
But while they may find little in common with our sense of slapstick humour, Teatr Blik have their own style of typically avante-garde,
anarchist wit. ’In Poland everything has to go through the state censor,’ explains Bogen. ‘They realised that it is a lot harder to censor an action than a word. So they used to put things in the show specifically for the state censor to ban — something really obvious like burning a red flag. The censor would say ’no you can’t do that,’ and miss the thing they wanted to keep in. It’s witty, but it had a point.’ (Mark Fisher) Theatre Blik are at Paisley Arts Centre, 14 Feb, and Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh, 16—] 7Feb.
Bosmary Butcher has been hailed as one oi the most innovative tigures on the British dance scene. Having lived and worked in New York in the late Sixties and early Seventies, alongside the likes oI Trisha Brown, she was exposed to the then radical notion that any term ot ordinary movement could be considered aesthetically pleasing, whether it be tying one’s shoelaces or relieving one’s bowels. As a result, her work has been a liberating inlluence in Britain, partly through her desire to produce natural movement, tree of allectation and, curiously enough, through her wondertully cool style which translates movement intellectually rather than emotionally. l-ier gentle voice takes me back a good twelve years to a series of dance
classes I had taken with a dashing young woman who seemed a goddess to us awkward, serious teenagers. One ol the Iirst things i notice about Butcher twelve years on is that her speech is littered with visual art metaphors. ‘I wanted to make a piece over along period at time,’ she croons, ’to take it lrom a sketch or drawing right through to a structure. I divided it into three parts, d1, d2 and 30, so that I could create my own environment like a building. The second part introduces light in two dimensions, not just on the ﬂoor but upwards as well. The third part is when the light and the structure are put together and several levels are introduced.
‘I think I see the work visually as a whole, as a landscape. I choreograph because that’s the craft l have, but actually it it could be expressed through paint or sculpture, or it I had the skills, then those mediums would suit me better.’
’ like to achieve a plateau where human talliblllty doesn’t enter into the matter. ‘What happens is that when people perlorm ideas that have been thought about they can’t help but show some ieeling or human idea. What I don’t do is push those ideas beyond what happens with the movement, all i concentrate on is the ideas that are right in design and space. It has never interested me, that dance should be expressive in an emotional way. Movement in itsell, placed against either an environment or other people, is my real interest, and in a way that is natural and tree lrom too much atlectation.’
Part three at the project will be pertormed at The Tramway. Intended as a culmination ol the ideas progressing through d1 and d2, the performance should be quite a spectacle, probably using split levels and glass. The linal product entitled 30, will have been constructed trom d1 in several stages, complimenting the architectural designs by Zaha Hadid who has been involved in the project trom the first stage. (Jo Roe) d1 can be seen at the Richard Demarco
Gallery on Wed 21 Feb, 7.30pm.
It is almost as though Buter woulr
V AMATEUR .
Trending the virgin boards
Amateur theatre does not enjoy the best Press. The butt ot innumerable comic gags and sketches, it is typically a housewife-ish, suburban and monied activity. Ideally, it is the Surbiton Ladies’ Flower Arranging Society, pertorming ’Favourite scenes Irom World WarTwo’. The reality, however, is somewhat ditierent. Amateur theatre in Scotland is an important source at recruitment, providing the prolessional scene with a continuous stream at new playwrights and actors.
Most amateur companies exist independently ol each other, surviving solely on the whims and lantasies at its participant members. Every year, however, the enthusiasts’ governing body, the Scottish Community Drama Association, organises a series oi knockout competitions. The opening at the district heats takes place this month, so The List decided to conduct a lew enquiries.
‘Most people expect something ridiculous when the idea at amateur
theatre is raised,’ explains SODA administrator Maggie Arnott, ‘but make no mistake about the seriousness with which these people pursue their hobby. The standard can lreguently rise to that of their prolessional counterparts, and the range is very comprehensive. We have around 200 companies on our books this year, and with a playwriting competition running concurrently, you can expect anything lrom Brecht to Brian Rix.’
As for the suburban stereotype, that doesn’t stand up to close inspection either. ‘Our groups come from allover Scotland, and rellect all walks ol lile. You can’t pigeonhole amateur actors, any more than you could do with any other lorm of activity. Most at them are simply too busy to become protessionally involved.
’lncidentally, the majority ol our members are men.’ (Philip Kingsley) SCDA One-Act Play Festivals take place across Scotland. See Listings tor details.
I Oxygen Project The consistently brilliant lunchtime theatre company. Oxygen House. is expanding its horizons to take on a large-scale community play in conjunction with Edinburgh‘s Netherbow Theatre. Readings and auditions for the play — Buchner’s Danton 's Death — will take place in March. lfyou’d like to get involved send your name. address and telephone number to the Netherbow Theatre. 43 High Street. Edinburgh EH1 lSR. stating your age. gender. previous experience and particular interest (acting/stage management/costume etc).
I Mistero Bulto (Methuen. £4.50). Ed Emery‘s translation of Dario Fo's dialect Italian comic tales. consciously sticks to standard English as opposed to the more earthy language likely to be used by Robbie Coltrane in Borderline’s production. It does this for the sake of reading and with the assumption that productions will alter it to suit local demands. To this end, editor Stuart Hood has added a sample adaptation into Scots which should give a taster of Borderline's production.
I Juno and the Paycock (Macmillan Education £5.50). Aimed at the school‘s market. this edition sometimes states the obvious in its foot-notes, but much of the explanatory introductory notes are genuinely interesting. Liberally illustrated with photographs of the Gate Theatre’s production, the
larger than average format makes it a smooth read and a useful companion to the new production at the Royal Lyceum.
I Shakespearean Concepts (Methuen £6.99). Published on 8 February, Simon Trussler’s book is a dictionary aimed at students ofShakespeare and his contemporaries. its 500 entries cover a selection of words that might cause you difficulty, but more commonly it delves into the meanings and context of concepts such as Purgatory, Prosody, Rhetoric and Vice. Dead handy for students ofany level.
48 The List 9- 22 February 1990