Dutch performance artist Peter Zegveld is not one fortravelling light. Not for him the change ofshirt and underwear and the personal hygiene set bought by a great aunt last Christmas. Zegveld hops onto planes with entire environments which he then constructs wherever he is performing.
In Contexts at The Third Eye Centre. he will build five distinct environments in which to perform his combination of music. projected images. drama and black humour. The audience moves through the different scenes with the artist as he utilises household objects in bizarre orchestrations.
‘The five scenes force me into a poetic story,‘ says Zegveld. ‘so if i am under a tree there will be a scene of nature or violence against nature. Every sphere is one story — five scenes with five tableaux. [don't know how the performance will develop because i haven't built the installations yet. but the moving sculpture will be the primary thing in the whole concept.‘
This moving sculpture does not melt into the surroundings like your average Henry Moore. lts dimensions are exactly the same as the room which accommodates it save for Silents on every side. Zegveld may defy categorisation. but his work certainly has more of a dark than a light feel to ii.
The main subject in my work is that there is a kind ofthreat.‘ he says. ‘a kind of power which is always trying to put us down— religion or parentsor anything that represses you. I use the materials of the performance including the noise (he refusesto call it music) and lights to create a threatening atmosphere.‘ (Philip Parr) ( ‘milexls. Third Eye ( 'enlre. (ilusgow.5--9Juri.
Over the next three weeks, the Traverse Theatre is presenting four plays, two at which are debut works and two by writers in the infancy of their careers. The presentation of the plays is the culmination of the ‘Spinning a Line’ writers’ development programme in which resident Traversers Andrew Farrell and Ben Twist have been working with two writers each since the early stages.
‘We are quietly coniident' says Twist with a smile. ‘Last year in the ‘Spinning a Line’ performances you got something oi a mixed bag in terms of style, contentand . . . er, quality. But with them being shown as double bills you were guaranteed at least one and a hall shit-hot plays. And it will be at least as good this year.’
With the writers being at such an early stage of their careers, l wondered if there was a danger of success being attributed more to the ‘development
processors’ than to the writers.
‘We get the first draft and then work with the writers to develop the piece,’ says Redmond, ‘but its the writers who do it, put it all together, make it work.’
‘We otter suggestions,’ adds Twist, ‘and these can be quite specific such as ‘that line doesn't quite work' or more general ideas about a certain character. But the important thing is to show the writers the development which a play goes through before it reaches the stage; to show them how much the actors, director and designers can contribute, and show them how much they can cut out of their original draft.’
With less Iucre available than elsewhere (certainly this year), I asked the directors if they were aggrieved at
T the accident of geography which places
The Traverse on the east rather than than the west coast.
‘The Traverse is committed to this type of work,’ asserts Twist. ‘lt’s very important that a writing theatre has an easy way in for the writers. All of the development work comes out of very tight budgets and we want to blow our own trumpet a bit to show how much we do. We work with the scripts for so long that it’s good to be able to present them at the end of it all. Our District Council is actually very sympathetic and I’m not sure that I’d like to be working in Glasgow right now. We’re lucky—we can use Glasgow as an experiment ground and take on board what works and rejectwhat doesn't.’ (Philip Parr) Spinning A Line, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 6—24 Jun.
A bone to pick
in 1981 John McGrath published A Good Night Out, a radical and inspiring text that laid out his beliefs on the way forward for left wing theatre. Ten years on, its sequel in spirit, The Bone Won’t Break, is published in a mainstream political climate even less generous towards any artistic enterprise that fails to conform to establishment values.
Based on a term’s lectures at Cambridge University, the book’s weakness lies in the same place as its very great strength. Looking at British culture in all its class-riddled complexity, McGrath blends astute political insight with his own direct experience of work (and lack of it) in the field of political theatre - primarily ' with 7:84 England and 7:84 Scotland. At its worst, this subjective approach presents McGrath as a defeated man with a chip on his shoulder and an easy conspiracy theory- although never quite as much as in the recent Scotland on Sunday extract in which, out of context, his arguments were weakened.
But at its best, the book looks beyond the narrow perspective of a director smarting from the pain of a bad review, and out towards a radical vision not just of working-class theatre, but of our society as a whole. it only for this
reason, The Bone Won’t Break demands to be read. McGrath
constantly challenges and provokes. l ;
You’ll find yourself shouting out in anger or applause as he takes us from a Marxist analysis of power distribution in the Bits through to an optimistic outline for the future of popular culture.
One interesting area worthy of further consideration, particularly in the light of the forthcoming debate about the need for a Scottish National Theatre, is McGrath’s joint opposition to the idea of "Centres of Excellence’ and support for the needs and identity of national and local cultures. Would the Scottish people be served best by one building in one city, mimicking the Royal National Theatre, or by a touring company responsive to the various needs of a multi-cultural nation? (Mark Fisher)
The Bone Won’t Break (Methuen £7.99) is published on 7 June. AdCAS Conference on New Proposals for a National Theatre for Scotland is on 2 June, Old Royal High School, Edinburgh.
Jo Roe talks to two choreographers ofthe London Contemporary Dance Theatre about the company’s eclectic choice ofmateriai.
London Contemporary Dance Theatre was formed in 1967 to expose Britain to modern dance. After meeting the influential American choreographer. Martha Graham, wealthy businessman Robert Howard invited long-time Graham associate Robert Cohan to direct a new dance school and company. LCDT have since produced an impressive list of dancers and choreographers.
Conducting residencies throughout the country. LCDT has always tried to encourage new talent. Jonathan Lunn.
50The List 1 — 14June 1990