i A Soldier's'l‘alc isa Russian folktale
about how the devil attempts to win
the soul of a soldier by getting him to
. exchange the thing he loves most — ' his old fiddle — for the boundless
. wealth and fatne of a book that tells
the future. The piece was written by Igor Stravinsky. who. in 1918. found
himself in Switzerland cut off by the Great War and Bolshevik
Revolution from his estates and income. With a young family to
support. he decided to collaborate
with a Swiss writer. (IF. Ramuz. and devise a theatrical piece. using the simplest of resources. intending it to be like a popular travelling fairground show. to tour around the local villages.
I asked David McVicar. guest
director of'l‘heatre 'l'heatrical — a company made up of past and present students of Glasgow's Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama — how he had interpreted the play. bearing in mind it is over 70 years old.
‘I am not trying to interpret it. I‘m trying to respond to it. My response obviously comes from someone whose experiences of life have been in the last halfof the 20th century. as has the rest of the cast. But we’re not trying to deliberately interpret it or update it. It's there.‘
I wondered. however. how the company had approached the formal traditions of the play. for example. the conventions of having the musicians separate from the action and wearing dinner suits and dickie bows. ‘lt‘s true that it has been claimed by very static concert performances. and has been made very formalised. which deviates from the original intentions behind writing it. which was as a truly accessible popular entertainment. And that‘s certainly something we've tried to latch on to.
l‘ve also tried to express the eclecticism of the music. because Stravinsky is borrowing many popular dance styles from the beginning of the century. Waltz. ragtime. polka. all sorts of inﬂuences
from Russian folk music. and also from black Jazz music are there in the score. It-was a kind ofmusical collage all filtered through his very distinctive imagination.‘
The structure ofthc original text and music of the play remains unchanged; there are four characters: the soldier. the narrator. the princess and the devil. Everyone is united in telling the story. For example there are seven instrumentalists: clarinet. bassoon. cornet. trombone. violin — representing the soldier. double-bass and percussion — representing the devil.
Theatrical‘s production includes passages of the purely musical. melodrama. spoken speech over musical background. dance and mime. David McViear identified the principal theme of the play as one which cropped up again and again throughout Stravinsky's works. ‘It has a very simple humanitarian message. which is that life must progress all the time. you can‘t seek to go back over one's life. you can‘t relive past experiences. you must
learn from experience and travel on.‘
I A Soldier's Tale (Fringe) Theatre Theatrical. Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49). 225 9893. 19—31 Aug (not 25). 12.35 pm. £3.75 (£2.50).
; Jester minute
If your kids think museums and history
are boring and only for fuddy-duddies, then Jester’s Children’s Theatre is here
. to prove otherwise. The company was ‘ set up when Greater London Arts
approached Peter Guilterto help them with attendance problems at some of
‘They were having problems drawing attention to the museums, and were wanting to attract school groups,’ he says. ‘They often had only two visitors a day and they were usually over 70 years old.‘ Striking up a sponsorship deal with the National Theatre, Quilter borrowed and then dressed his actors in exquisite costumes from the appropriate period, and devised an educational drama package to interest the schools.
‘The groups were met by the actors in character, and taken on a guided tour of the building, and were finally led to a room in which an informed and entertaining drama took place.‘ The GLA was suitably impressed and commissioned three more projects. Jester’s philosophy has evolved from i this work and in this, theirtirst i excursion out of the museums and into the theatre, they aim to present ‘historical periods in an action-packed
and humorous way, so children learn while enjoying themselves.’
The two plays, A Clean Sweep! focusing on the Victorian period, and
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot, in which i
a time-machine visits the Tudors and Stuarts, are drawn from the national curriculum and are brimming with information, characters and stories from the time being explored. The shows are selling well, particularly ‘Sweep’, so booking is advisable. Masked theatre of the Trestle variety appears in Priceless, a brain-tickling
Jester Children‘s Theatre
comic strip inspired comedy for all the family. Set inside the brain of Albert, we learn how the controllers send and receive messages to the body, until one day their smooth operation is disrupted by the Virus Brothers and Albert's behaviour becomes increasingly unpredictable.
‘The key,’ says Peter Joucla, the director, ‘is making the mask work for the actor, put a mask on and you can look like you’ve got a funny face on — but the secret is to use the body so that the mask appears to change its expression, because it has an ambiguity about it’.
If you have never seen a show that uses full face masks, mime, and music
then you are in tor a unique visual treat.
A Clean Sweep! (Fringe) Jester’s Children’s Theatre, Edinburgh Playhouse Studio (Venue 59), 556 0461, until 31 Aug (not 18, 25), 11am, £3.50 (£3).
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot (Fringe) Jester‘s Children‘s Theatre, Pilmeny Community Centre, 554 0953, until 31 Aug (not 18, 25), 11am, £3.50 (£3). Priceless (Fringe) Acts, Gilded Balloon Theatre (Venue 38), 226 2151, 18- 24 Aug, 11.30am, £4 (£3).
Michael Balfour picks out live shows worth getting up early tor. . IASoldier‘s Tale A Faustian Russian folk-tale.integrating i musicians and performers inadramaticretellingof Siravinsky's ; music-theatre play. i Presented by studentsand i graduates of the Royal 1 Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. A Soldier's 'I'ale (Fringe)
Theatre ’l‘heatrieal. Bedlam Theatre ( Venue 49). 225 9893, 19-31Aug ; (not25). 12.35pm. £3. 75 (£2.50). 1
I Magic Bob and MrBoom Three new cabaret shows for kids. from these genuinely entertaining oerformers.
Magic Bob (Fringe) Theatre Workshop (Venue 20). 2265425. [5-18/illg. 11am. [2.25.
Magic Bob Visits Mr Boom (Fringe) 'I‘heatre Workshop ( Venue 20). 226 5425. [9—22.31Aug. 11am. [2. 75. Zoom to the Moon with M r Boom (Fringe)
Theatre Workshop (Venue 20). 220 5425, 22 -25 Aug. Ham, [2. 75.
I Lady Macsescu Uncompromising and well-researched historicalx political story of Romanian leaders that draws parallels with the characters of Macbeth. Lady M aeseseu (Fringe) A rtts International. I’leasanee ( Venue 33). 556 6550. 20—26 A ug.
l I .3()am. £3. 5!) ( £2 .50) M on— Thurs. £5 . 50 ( £3 . 5 0) f Fri—Sun.
i I 0" the Wall The pros Iand cons of DIY. with ttalking saws. mice. puppets and live music. all ‘wrapped up in peeling wallpaper and slapstick fun ofthc Laurel and yilardy variety. For younger children.
;()ffthe Wall (Fringe) ()ilv -(‘art. (.‘luny Festival
( entre ( Venue 53 ). 452 9620, 20—24 A ug. 1] ant and 2pm. [3 (f2 ).
I Boald Dahl‘s Revolting Rhymes A well handled i adaption of Dahl‘s f brilliantly twisted versions of traditional fairytalcs. Roald [)ahl 's Ret-olting Rhymes (Fringe) ( 'ustard factory Theatre ( 'o. l (ire'vfriars K irk House I
( Venue 28), 1.? --24 A ug into! [9). l()..i()am.1.4
morning are apparently busy with entertainment for kids ofall ages. You know it’s good toryou
The List 16— 22 August l‘)‘)l 23