Griffin on film

Below Mark Fisher talks to Annie Griffin about cinematic sex fantasies, while over the next twelve pages we preview and review the most exciting events in the last week of Mayfest, followed by a complete day by day diary.

Film projection is suddenly all the rage in the theatre. Yolande Snaith extended the performing area with film sequences in her recent dance show at Edinburgh‘s Assembly Rooms, while Forkbeard Fantasy's Invasion of the Bloopies made witty and brilliantly integrated use of home movies in the first week of Mayfest. Now in Skylark, Annie Griffin’s new company, Pirate Productions, features no less than five 16mm black and white celluloid sequences.


Continuing an investigation halfserious. half tongue-in-cheek into the nature offantasy. which she initiated in the Country and Western-inspired Almost Persuaded and the operatic Ariadne, Annie Griffin now turns her attention to the collective dreamworld of Hollywood. ‘In Skylark the playing on stage is like

a movie,‘ she says. ‘The style is the heightened

realism that you have in films where nothing is unnecessary every cigarette is significant. People never say what they mean. but you always know

i exactlywhat they mean.‘

From thisfilm noir-influenced setting emerge real films which form the fantasies of the two stage characters. Griffin‘s character fantasises about

having a husband and children. for example. so

she returned to her native America with a professional film crew, cinematographer and editor, to shoot idyllic images of her niece and nephew. This was planned after an initial period of

f rehearsal and followed up by further rehearsal

with the completed films to ensure that the stage

j rhythm matches that ofthe screen.

‘We have a film projector in the lighting box,‘ she says. ‘and it‘s great there's twenty feet of black between each film, so that's ten seconds, and when the audience hears the projector starting up again. it's very evocative. it's like you‘re in a cinema. Sometimes you sit down in the middle of the day or in the office and you have a little fantasy maybe it‘s a sex fantasy and it‘s just like

Annie Griffin takes her seat in the stalls

watching a movie in your head for a little while. Because of movies. the way we fantasise is different. Iguess the question I‘m always interested in is whether that‘s a good thing.‘ But wary oftheatre that makes claims to be

‘important‘, Griffin is at pains to emphasise the playful aspect ofher work. She argues that humour is a fine tool for drawing an audience into the heart ofa performance instead ofit looking on coldly from an emotional distance. ‘A lot ofmy work sits on the edge ofbeing completely ridiculous.‘ she says. ‘and sometimes it falls into being ridiculous. Glasgow audiences were the only ones who understood that Ariadne was playing with that. The London critics just said “Oh, well it’s ridiculous." A lot ofthe stuff you think about during the day eating too many sweets the triviality of one's own areas ofconcern is an important element. [don’t like work that says “this is really important and you should see this. This is high art.“

As well as extending the play‘s field ofvision and being able to ask questions about the influence of cinema. there is one other advantage in using so much film. ‘You don‘t have somebody deciding to do it differently.‘ says Griffin. ‘lt's very satisfying having people respond to the films every night and knowing that the moments and the timing are just . how you want them.‘

E Skylark, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, Fri 1 7—Sun 19 May.

The List 17—30May 1991 17