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From here is very little that is ordinary about a . . company that Peter Sellars. directorof dlrty mOVles the American National Theatre. has

of papers and make something that would mean as much as. no more or no less. what I‘ve

constructed in the performance space to wasted rock called‘the mostimportanttheatre downstairs.” The Wooster company in our €01”ny . - - inventinga If all thissounds like a formula for a kind of theatrical vocabulary that will become a neo-Dadaist free-for-all. nothing could be further Group recydes lingimfranca twenty years from now.’

from the truth. Behind their raunchy. hi-tecli

popular culture The Group emerged from the avant-garde . show-biz facades. Wooster Group pieces hav e an and art with hothouse ofmid-7()s New York. populated With almost classical sense offorni and repose. The irreverent glee figureslike Robert Wilson. Richard l~oreman and work of rehearsal is painstakingly meticulous.

. ' Meredith Monk. a city whose surreal contrasts weeks or even months of improvisation discarded SlmOn Bayly talks indeliblymarktheir style. Whilst withanother ifthings don‘tseem to be fallinginto place. Two to ELIZABETH New York company The Performance Group. years is the usual gestation period for a

LECOMPTE, Lecompte and actor Spalding Graylnow famous production. . .

, for his monologues such as .Sit'mmimg 10 Taking time seems to pay handsome dividends. dlreCtor Of the Cambodia)beganexploringimprovisation with Watching a Wooster performance islikc radical troupe. ‘found‘objects. personalassociationsand witnessingadynamicpublic event in full flow 7

° , h material brought in b)’ thC PCTiOfmeS (anything which is what most theatre has forgotten it is -- in midwvdy thrOUg from a rcdtent to recordings ofvaudeville all itsorganised disorder. The sets are littered

YGhCZITS'diS for a routines). Lecompte describesthe work asa with televisions.wires. microphones. papers and

new piece SCilfCh 'fo 21 Visual language that was not. . so forth. resembling the sprawl of a chaotic entitled .Brace necessarily psychologically real .relinquishing lecture-demonstration ratherthan a conventional

9 narrative or linear structure fora more musically stage setting,

Up . about the orientated sense ofform. Another constant feature in the work since 197*) aesthetics Of Since 1975 the Gmup has created eight has been the use ofclassic drama which the pieces -unk full-length productions: the two most recent radically deconstruct both literally and

J ' I..S.I). . . . (Just The High Points) . . . (which metaphorically: amongthem TS. liliot‘s The passed almost unnoticed through the 1986 Cocktail Party. Thornton Wilder‘s Our Town

Edinburgh FC-‘tiV’iill imd Frank Del/'5‘ The and. in LS. 1). Arthur Miller‘s The (‘rui'ih/e.

Temptation ()fSIAntmly Will be performed in Lecompte chooses material that both fascinates

Glasgow alongside the work-in-pmngSS over a and repulses her by and large these plays are ilie three-week period. perennial fodder for white. middle-class hiin Working like strangely undiscerning school productions -— and it is in confronting this biographers. the Group scavenges the junkyard ambivalent relationship towards the material tliai of American culture with a sublimely irreverent she seems most interested. disregrard for distictions between ‘high‘ and 'low‘ And what about the obvious foi‘malisi bent of art. Pornographic video, old comedy routines. the work'.’ ‘Politics filters in and out of the work hula dancing and forgotten trash pop have all because it is a dialogue.‘ Lecompte explains. featured in past productions. Books. records. ‘We‘re bringing our lives into the pieces as we go pre-recorded and ‘home-made‘ sound. music. along. things that surround us. that we see.‘ film and video. recordings of private interviews or Harmless as that may sound. the of public events are all thrown into the melting uncompromising desire to confront material at a pot to be broken down and reconstituted basic level has often led the Group onto the alongside improvised ‘action-texts‘ ofgesture. hotbed ofcontroversy. In Rome ] ((- 9. the Group (lame and language. juxtaposed the white. middle-class sentimentality

As the director of this process. Lecompte sees ofThornton Wilder’s Our Town (shot soap her jOb 215‘ akin 10 that OfIhC collage-maker. opera-style on video) with live re-ci‘eations of ‘These workers bring material to me and l sift and wildy anarchic vaudeville routines by the Nous Siphon through “3 She 53%. “isn‘t “1111501110 black comedian ‘Pigmeat‘ Markham. performed material is “better” than other material. I use it in blackface by the all-white cast, There followed when it links up to something very particular with a protracted dispute over the alleged racism of the me. when it extends my vision slightly. . . lcould piece which finally resulted in the Group losinga take three props here: the printing on the back of portion oftheir NYSCA grant. ‘Everybody‘s this picture. this book and whatever‘s in this pile heads were spinning.‘ remembers performer

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Elite list 28 September— ll October 1990