Meeting Place: two laced
‘I am bored with theatre.‘ pronounces Polish actor and director Zophia Kalinska. ‘I don‘t like this cold speculation. I try to find emotions, strong feelings. I am not even ashamed of using a kind of hysteria, because some women are hysterics, so why not show them as they really are? They are naked. not so nice and not so beautiful. I work with women. because I think they are able to find something new. They are keen to go into a kind oftrance, but I want to use this to explore all sides of women's psyche.‘
By her own admission, this passionate, uncompromising approach to theatre has led in the past to broodineg tragic meditations on the female soul. but with The Sale ofDemonic Women. Kalinska has adopted an altogether lighter tone. ‘I want to make fun,‘ she says gaily. ‘Women are considered to be very serious and tragic. but in this performance we laugh at ourselves.‘
Kalinska, who after working for twenty years with the legendary Tadeusz Kantor now runs Poland‘s only all-women theatre company. has based this production for Nottingham’s Meeting Ground Theatre Company on writings by 8.1. Witkiewicz, the playwright widely regarded as the original absurdist. Without changing his words. Kalinska subverts hisfemmefatale stereotypes — the cabaret singer. the eternal mother, the eternal bride — and establishes connections between these and female archetypes like Medea and Salome. ‘l‘m trying to find a different side to these women he characterised,‘ she explains.
Despite the pressures of touring, Kalinska demands that her actors stretch themselves ever further each time they perform. Improvising within a structure. each performance
attempts to extend the limitations of theatre. ‘Every night I am a bit nervous,‘ she says, ‘because it is not the kind ofperformance that is successful every night. I don‘t want actors to feel very safe. I like to take risks, I don't like to feel protected.‘ (Mark Fisher)
The Sale ofthe Demonic Women is at the Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, Tue II—Wed 12 Dec, and Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh. Fri 14 Dec.
When Stephen Mulrine translated A Man With Connections tor the Traverse, Edinburgh, three Edinburgh Festivals ago, the play’s Russian author, Alexander Gelman presented him with a copy oi his collected works. inspired by one play, The Bench, Mulrine set about translating it ior his own amusement. All this time later, it has surlaced back at the Traverse as that curiosity, a straight play at Christmas.
‘One oi the things I like about Gelman,’ says Muirine, ‘is that he's a superb theatre craftsman. He's in the Arthur Miller mode oi constructors. He’s an onion skin writer, there’s a core truth embedded in the play and it’s a matter oi peeling oil layer alter layer. At each point you think you know where you are and then there’s a coup de theatre and your assumptions are immediately overturned and the play changes again.’
Like A Man With Connections, The
Sitting it out: The Bench
aren’t interested in lacts. They’re interested in larger concerns. The woman's response is, bugger the iacts, you don’t love me, that's what this whole thing’s about. They always want to open the argument out and the men are trying to pin it down.’
In Soviet society this is exacerbated by severe male chauvinlsm and hampering economic pressures so, despite a colloquial Glasgow translation, Mulrine has been carelul not to transpose the setting away from
Bench is a two-hander between a Soviet man and woman and, while engaging itsell with the alien uncomlortable iabric at Eastern Bloc lile, it studies the diiierent perspectives ot men and women. ‘liis men argue rather in the way I would argue,’ says Muirine, ‘which is irom what they perceive as solid premises - this is a tact, this Is an absolute, water-tight, brass-bound, copper-bottomed lact. And the women
the USSR. Gelman’s approach does, however, suit the Scottish penchant tor black humour. ‘lt’s a lairly grim tale, but enlivened by absurdity,’ says Mulrine. ‘Gelman’s characters are just a bit absurd. I’ve no time lor conventional comedies, bull like plays that have got grim scenarios enlivened by black comedy.‘ (Mark Fisher)
The Bench is at the Traverse Theatre,
Edinburgh, Fri 7—Sun 23 Dec.
Steve Shill and Graeme Miller change the wires
The Year They Changed The Wires is the latest collaboration between ex-lmpact Theatre members Steve Shill and Graeme Miller. While Shill describes Impact as ‘heavily antl-narrative’, he sees himseli now as a ‘lully-lledged story-teller’, but one using ‘the lull resources at experimental theatre on the design side’. This he contrasts with Miller’s ‘lncantalory’ approach, more concerned with ‘shamanlstic elements, the idea ol mass hypnosis by pertormance.’
This relationship is to some extent
what’s being dramatised in the new
piece. ‘It’s set on the edge oi a
lavender tleld in the South at France,’
says Shill, ‘which has a Beckettian quality, because it's slightly lacking in
detail’. Shill plays a hard-up lilm
directortrying to persuade Miller's
equally penurious novelist that the latter’s screenplay, describing
memories evoked by the scent ol
lavender, is completely uncinematic.
Faced with an overnight deadline, the
novelist unhapplly and lrantically
rewrites it according to the director's lormulaic rules on ‘classic narrative structure' — rules which, it turns out, the play is also lollowing to the letter.
‘Ourwriting strategy.’ says Shill, ‘is to create two opposing voices who will pivot around each other and be able to argue around a central issue. The issue here is whether to employ classic narrative structure, or just do what you ieel.’
Miller is composing ‘a distilled version ol a lilm score, which slides in underthe action on stage,’ and Shill believes ‘the experience ol watching the show is like seeing the movie,
’ though it’s narrated'. And like the best movies, there’s a happy ending. ‘lt ends in a lavenderiield,’ says Shill.
, ‘Beally that’s where the novelist
i always wanted to be, but now it’s all
. charged up with symbolism. The
classic narrative lorm releases the
essence oi the lavenderiield.’ (Ken
: The Year They Changed The Wires is at
'l the Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, 6-8 Dec.
THEATRE 59 CABARET 60 DANCE 61
ofthat.‘ : own radio show. a shot at
presenting l’ick ofrhe
Purcell Rooms, Brown is E alreadystartingto
, Edinburgh gig tiesin nicely with his first ever
f chancer.’ he admits. ‘1 just
don't they? I'm doing an
’ all" ’ g A.
Arnold Brown gets groovy ‘In the Edinburgh Fringe I got bad reviews from The List and 'I'heJewis/r Chronicle.‘ says Arnold Brown. ‘so that means my Scottish-Jewish identin is up the spout!‘
His show. he assures us. got much better after the first night. reaping many rave reviews, and in any case his forthcoming one-offgig in Edinburgh features the added attraction of pianist Rod Melvin. best known for co-writing the music for lan Dury's W/mtA ll'aste. ‘I met him about ten years ago when I was at the Comic Strip.‘ says Brown. ‘and i met him again strangely enough at the Labour Party conference. Is that a comment on life'."
Taking the lead from his
Perrier Award-w inning 1987 show with Jungr and Parker. Brown is collaborating with Melvin to mix a little atmosphere into the set. ‘The songsare more like fragments.‘ he says. ‘They top and tail one or two of my routines. I'm not changing the thrust of the act. but adding to the theatricality ofit all. Because I'm low key. the music adds punch and style. 1'” be singing. almost talking. You know the way Rex llarrison did Talk To The Animals"? I'm going to do a hip version
After two series ofhis
Week and an imminent ten-day run in London's
diversify. Indeed his
after dinner speech. ‘l'm a complete and utter
go where the money is. Most socialists have to.
after dinner speech at the B (it 0 conference. l'm going to give the impression that i‘m a mini-celebrity. l'll drop names ofpeople i know .‘ (Mark Fisher)
Arnold Brown is air/re Counting House. Edinburgh. Fri 7Dec.
The List 7 — 20 December 1990 55