Communicado, English Shakespeare Company, Shared Experience and Feet First Dance Festival.
LISTINGS: THEATRE 51 CABARET 53 DANCE 54
As the second Feet First dance festival kicks offin Edinburgh. Jo Roe steps out with choreographers Lindsay John and Yolande Snaith. Spurred on by the success of last year’s l-‘eet First festival. The 'l'raverse have organised a second programme of new dance. (‘omprised solely of British companies. the festival contains a healthy
portion of Scottish dance.
()ne of Scotland’s most singular dance voices. Lindsay John. has choreographed apiece for Laini (‘hrismas to be performed both in (ilasgow and Edinburgh this month. Both dancers have sought
out experience in Japan to enrich their
understanding of the radical Japanese dance form Butoh. which has exerted a powerful influence on their work. (iivcn this mutual reference point John was happy to act as the outside eye for ('hrismas. rather than taking the stage himself.
‘I have drawn out ideas that she has initiated.‘ he explains. “I don’t view dance as separate from life.‘ . John continues. ‘l)ance comes from everyday things — falling down in a gutter. running for a train.‘ Butoh. he stresses. contains the paradoxical ‘ life-giving and destructive forces of nature. which are echoed in their untitled piece of work.
Also on the programme this year is a piece choreographed by one of Britain's brightest new dance voices. Yolande Snaith. Formed for Dance Quorum. (our! By T/it’ 'I’ule was inspired by a meditation on the passing of time by Victorian essayist l lazlitt. (‘omparing this new work. for five
people. to her recent productions. Snaith notes a difference of approach. ‘Before this piece l’ve i done things that project out into the audience. Because there were only two of us. it may have been something to do with a need to fill the space. . In this piece the audience is being drawn in. It is as
if you are peering into another world. like one of those bubble things which contain a scene in
In common with Snaith's last work. (our! By The Tale involves complicated costume and A ~ symbolism. ‘l'm playing with a sense of history. mixing up times.‘ she continues. ‘I work associatively. using alot ofobjects. 'l’he choreography continually weaves these elements
In a very different vein are the more populist Jiving Lindy l loppers. Incorporating a range of thoroughly researched jazz dance styles into their repertoire. the company have even visited the
original Lindy l loppers in Harlem. 'l‘heir highly energetic dance form was originally developed for competition. incorporating numerous athletic stunts to gain attention and points.
Also worth noting from the first halfof Feet First
Yolande Snaith‘s Court in the Tale
is dance duo Mark Murphy and Sue ('ox. who havt: gained recognition for their energetic dance style.
2 (‘laire Russ dancing in (iurden Party In The
Hot/rouse and an interesting double bill
comprising Scottish dancers Rosina Bonsu and Alan (irieg. (Jo Roe)
. l///n'ij/ormrmccs area! (he Traversr and Assembly Rt wms‘. Edinburgh 9—2/ April.
People laugh at those old radio actors who used to dress in period costume to broadcast, say, a Shakespeare play. American Connexion, you suspect, might not entirely agree. When i visited them in rehearsal for 'Night Mother, director Gregg Ward and performers Donna Orlando and Pene Herman-Smith were busy mapping out their characters’ house beyond the one-room set that the audience sees. Marsha Norman's Pulitzer Prize-winning play lrom 1983 is an intensely emotional showdown
between a mother and daughter, which Ward praises tor being ‘beautitully written, poetical in a kind oi down-to-earth way’. It’s very much from the ‘American naturalism' school, where the emphasis is on a strong storyline and characters, ‘ordinary' settings, and high doses of emotion — not a million miles from the movies.
Orlando is keen to emphasise that such theatre is open to ideas too. ‘People get an opportunity to look at issues that may occur in their own lives,’ she says, ‘but lrom a different perspective-very complex, highly charged issues thatthey can’t usually look at objectively.’
It the locus on detail no audience will ever see can seem obsessive, Ward
O .. . _,\. ..... all!“ L ‘
American Connexion in Night Mother
stresses the need to get the intimacy oi the mother-daughter relationship absolutely right. ‘llyou’re an actorand you believe what you’re doing,‘ he says, ‘we as an audience will accept it.
The reason we approach a play like this with so much improvisation, so much background, is so that we can create a shared experience that doesn’t come lrom the head, but comes from actually doing these things.’
It's hard work, but eventually the ease and confidence gained can make the actual performance much easier. ‘Come opening night, the actors can take all the intellectual improvisation background work they’ve done, throw it right in the bin and live the play. l’ll say relax, go out and have a good time . . (Ken Cockburn)
‘Night Mother is at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Thurs 16—Sun 21 Apr, and then on tour.
The List 5 — 18 April 199143