Video v star,
In the early 708. John O’Keefe was living in his Volkswagen Camper in a parking lot outside a Californian mental institution. It was at a time when the idealism and experimentation of the 60s West Coast drug culture was still thriving and when abject poverty, at least for O'Keefe. didn‘t seem to be too much ofa barrier. It was to these days that the playwright‘s mind returned when he split up with his long-term partner a couple of years ago and which. combined with his contemporary love of video games, formed the basis of his performed story. Vid. ’Therapeutically it has been nice.’ says O‘Keefe. ‘because it reminds me that even days that are harsh and crazy and chaotic still have some real spirit in them.‘
O’Keefe says he was never a heavy drug user- no ’drug holidays' as he puts it - but that his intake of peyote and LSD in the 705 acted as a mind-expanding teacher. ‘I think they were used more as a psychic aid,’ he says. ‘I'm going to split my psyche out of this parking lot and I‘m going to put it all over the place and I’m going to put it back together.‘
Too wary of waking up in a drug-induced hallucination in the cynical culture oftoday, O‘Keefc has found an imaginative parallel in the .- world ofvideo technology. ’If you look at our daily dreams. we are
living in a very wild and weird place .'
he says. ‘They‘re not necessarily acceptable as dreams and hallucinations. but put into a video game then we have a frame of reference from which we can view the preposterous and the extreme. I want people to switch between the psychedelic nature of a video game and the nature of being alive day by day.’
Hence Vid runs two simultaneous strands: one. O‘Keefe‘s
autobiographical reflections and the ?
other, the enactment of a video game with its own set of rules laid out by the narrator. The dramatic tension is created as we try to fathom out how the two stories could possibly be related; tantalisingly. O‘Keefe assures me they are, but isn‘t about to give the game away. ‘I think that the essence of a play is to create an epiphany of some kind.‘ he says. ‘That special moment at the end of the play when you go. "oh".’ (Mark Fisher)
Vid, Centre for Contemporary A rrs, Glasgow, Tue 12—Thurs 14 May.
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Always lull oi surprises, Tramway has revealed yet another lace. In the waste ground behind the old Transport Museum there’s a boiler room; a spacious shed with sand lloor. corrugated rooi, walls with cracks big enough ior sunlight to come through and pigeons llying about in the raiters. It has the same hare brick walls that give the main building such charm and that same sense oi a iound space that seems to trigger the theatrical imagination.
it’s been used once beiore, as part oi Tam Dean Burn’s roving periormance oi Bobby Sands’s Trilogy just beiore Christmas, but Glasgow’s Clanjamirle is the ilrst company to produce a show lor it that's made-to-measure. The
World’s Edge is a devised periormance
created by company stalwarts Emma Davie and Jules Corey-Richmond in collaboration with periormers irom the Americas, originally drawn together by a classliled advert in The List (you know it makes sense).
Using live video, Super 8 lootage, dance, percussion (llamas toenails are included in the kit) and a specially commissioned score, the piece takes a look at the legacy at Columbus and our historical and contemporary relationship with the ‘New World’. It also looks at Hollywood musicals. inllatabie skeletons, the nature oi pain and whatever else seems appropriate at the time. ‘The piece is composed out at Iayers,’ explains Davie. ‘li you look under one layer you should be able to see right down to the bottom, but sometimes only the suriace will be apparent. Some people might come out and say, yes it’s about Columbus in a broad sense, and others might say it’s about pain. We’re trying to go irom the particular to the universal and backto the particular.’
Text plays its part, but true to the company’s periormance art roots, the show explores its theme with many diiierent techniques. ‘It comes out in the music and the dance and the myths,’ says Gorey-Richmond. ‘A short piece oi music says a lot. Sometimes we might just see two people learning a dance and it’s just the joy oithat. But other times it’s not like that at all.’ (Mark Fisher)
The World's Edge, Tramway, Glasgow, Tue 12 and Fri 15—Fri 22 May.
Anyone iamiliar with Robert Mapplethorpe’s later body at work will know that US black, gay society is not a laughing matter; wincing yes, laughing, no. So what are three San Franciscans— Eric Gupton (composer), Bernard Branner (choreographer) and Brian Freeman (director) -doing I turning their sexuality and status into g one big joke? Getting a message ' across seems to be the answer. Pomo Airo Homos (Postmodern Airican American Homosexuals, actually) don’tonly weartheirsexuality on their sleeves, they brazen it out and parade it on stage. Their latest shows, ‘Fierce Love’ and ‘Dark Fruit’, receiving their British premieres this Maytest, use the old revue iormula oi songs and sketches, but their content is anything but traditional: backroom studs, camp queens and rent-boy- buying businessmen are all targeted. While receiving plaudits irom
journals as culturally and geographically diverse as the San Francisco Examiner and the Village Voice, the show was banned irom
1991 ’s National Black Theatre Festival. Also, as part oi his bid tor the
Republican nomination, Pat Buchanan used a video oi this ‘pornographic iilth’ 3 to condemn George Bush’s arts iunding i programme (oi which the Pomos are
E minor recipients). Anyone on Pat
Buchanan’s hitllst can’t be all bad.
The group aims as much at members ‘ oi their own society as at their oppressors- a reshreshing change irom the tub-thumping attitude oi many companies-with-a-message, who see lault in everybody but themselves. As
' Freeman has said, ‘A lot oi black gay
men get very nervous that we’re going
i to raise their issues—that we’re going to trash black men who go out with ; white men, ortrash black men who go
out with black men, or trash whatever they are. And we do, one by one, hit everybody.’ (Philip Parr)
Fierce Love, CCA, Glasgow, Thurs 21—Sat 23 May. Dark Fruit, CCA, Glasgow, Sat 23 May. i
‘1 do believe that one of the main things in theatre is the relationship between people on stage.‘ begins People Show veteran Mark Long. He goes on to describe their latest show. in which he‘s the only performer. as ‘a kind of unnatural state of affairs'. But keeping him company is versatile technician Chahine Vavroyan. whose ‘presence pervades the show as much as mine. it's just that he‘s not on stage.‘ George Kahn. another People Show stalwart. provides the soundtrack. People Show shows— this is number 98. if anyone is still counting— tread a fine line between anarchy and complete chaos. Any plot tends to be. in Long‘s words. ‘only a coathanger on which the rest of the lunacy‘s hung.‘ The starting point for number 98 is. he says. the fact that ’when l was five years old. I sat on Einstein‘s knee. Unbelievable but true. We then go through all the dimensions and end up in the fourth.‘ Mostly a monologue (ofsorts). it includes ’a song. a dance. a joke and a poem — just to keep it all rolling along.‘
Long will also be presenting his lecture or Theatre The Truth. Commissioned for last year's Mayfest. it has since been enjoyed all overthe country. ‘lt‘sin two halves. The first is about how to make money in theatre. and is my fairly cynical view ofwhat most theatre in this country seems to be about. The second part is how to make theatre which has nothing whatsoever to do with the first part.‘
An Edinburgh Fringe regular for many years. Long is still cynical about its current direction. ’lt's more about agents and producers nowadays. rather than people just going out on a limb doing things that might or might not work. which is what I always used to enjoy j aboutit.‘(KenCockburn) The 5010 Experience. l CCA, Glasgow, Fri lS—Sa! j 20 May. l Theatre Workshop. l Edinburgh. Mon lI—Wed J
The List 8- 21 May @657