,, J 5 V59. 1 Paul Birchard
The Centre for Contemporary Arts programme for the remaining chunk of Mayfest is a familiar blend of the unfamiliar; from the multi-media attack of Forced Entertainment to the endearing game playing of Gary Stevens. from the sophisticated elegance of a Gloria work-in-progress to the cartoon circus of Seattle‘s Run/Remain. But well ahead in the box ofﬁce stakes is that most un-CCA thing. a straight-forward adaptation of a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald short stories.
‘The CCA thinks it‘s very mainstream,‘ admits Paul Birchard. an American actor who has made Glasgow his home for the past fourteen years, picking up roles in everything from panto to The New Statesman. ‘I approached Nikki Milican (Performance Director) and said, “I‘m thinking about doing this, would you at least give me an audition?“ I did one of them for her and she liked it and said it‘s not normally the sort of stuff we do here. but nevertheless we‘ll try it.‘
First written for Esquire magazine. The Pat Hobby Stories recount the exploits of a Hollywood hack living off his meagre wits and giving Fitzgerald the opportunity to satirise the movie business — no safe thing 50 years before The Player made such subversion acceptable. ‘1 never really was a Fitzgerald fan until I read these stories.’ says Birchard, who is performing ﬁve of them solo. virtually uncut. ‘1 always thought that they’d be full of prep school and 19205 yuppies and ﬂappers. l began to read them on a train and I just fell over laughing out loud the whole time. Flashes of inspiration and joy don‘t happen that often so I thought I really must act on it. i began to read them out loud and the more I did that with a view to telling them. the funnier they became. l was astonished that they did tell so well. They're not literary and
they‘re not poetry - they're just full of
snappy dialogue.‘ (Mark Fisher)
The Pat Hobby Stories, CCA. Glasgow
Tue 18-Thurs 20 May.
mm- Dead boat
If its past work is anything to go by, Adventures in Motion Pictures’ new show, Deadly Serious, will be anything but. In fact, the cornpany’s own description, ‘An Hysterical Double Feature', is more openly indicative of its acid, tongue-in-cheek style of dancing where set and costumes are just as vital as steps.
The word ‘feature’ suggests a filmic theme, and Deadly Serious is indeed a ‘homage to that master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock’. Matthew Bourne, choreographer and company director, has divided his show into two distinct parts. Inspired for the first half by the black and white films Rebecca and Strangers on a Train, he tells a tale of desire, deception and murder, utilising his dancers’ acting abilities to blend the silver screen with the theatre. ‘I think the characters in the earlier Hitchcock films were stronger,’ Bourne has said, whereas ‘his later colour movies were much more concept films - obsession in Vertigo, voyeurism in Rear Window.’ And it’s these Technicolor chillers which form the basis of part two.
In the past, Bourne has parodied the French musicals of the 303 and 405 and the stereotyped British attitudes
to France, or taken a humorous look at machismo and given it an ironic, less- than-serious interpretation. His works are always pretty to look at and this show will be no exception, taking inspiration from 50s and 603 fashions.
Dance, Bourne has said, can be made using the blackest subject matter. ‘For example, an action like carrying a drowned body from the water - if you give it structure, give it a count, do it in unison, and repeat it, it becomes dance}
From somebody who has claimed that it’s possible to see Psycho as a comedy, Deadly Serious might be seriously funny. (Tamsin Grainger) Deadly Serious, HSAMD, Glasgow, Fri 21 -Sat 22 May.
Deadly Serious dead unny
mura- Dut of Africa
With the pulsating rhythms of breath and blood, sensuous, undulating arm movements and inspiration from animals and birds, Germaine Acogny and Arona H’Diaye created ‘Ye’Du’. Merging traditional music and movement from Africa with Western contemporary dance, Acogny and H’Diaye have devised a joyful dialogue depicting old myths and modern concerns.
Acogny was brought up as a member of the ancient Yoruba tribe in Benin, and later moved to Senegal. Daughter of a bureaucrat and with a convent schooling, she worked as a teacher for many years before being appointed as the first principal of the Mudra Afrique school in Dakar. This position gave Acogny the chance to study Western modern dance and she has since used aspects of it to blend with her diverse African experience and create a unique dance form which she describes as ‘African dance with
To watch her dance, you are under no illusions which style is in ascendance. The expressive isolations of the ribs and hips, indeed the very themes of the work, derive directly from the African village; but then Acogny dances low on the ground, uses contractions of the torso and employs a Western theatricality resulting in a physical style that is a true compound.
Acogny’s musical partner, H’Diaye, is a real master of two different types of drum - the Wolof and Djembe - and with these he conjures up the most astonishing range of sounds. The drums play a vital role in African dance — sometimes mimicking the movement, but more often leading it. H’Diaye is therefore of equal importance as a performer and entertains brilliantly.
In ‘Ye’Du’ the beating of the drums is at once strong and regular, then syncopated and playful; the dance is sensitive and visually beautiful. (Tamsin Grainger)
Ye’Du, HSAMD, Glasgow, Sat 15 May.
Modern African dance in Ye’Du
mm:- ting up
When someone associated with the experimental fringes of theatre comes up with a show called How to Act Better. it‘s reasonable to assume that it‘s going to be something other than an RSC masterclass. When that someone is Annie Grifﬁn. the accomplished performer and director responsible for the dry country music tribute Almost PPTSlUIdt’ll, the luscious Ariadne and the masterly Skylark. it‘s fair to expect at least a degree of irony. Annie Grifﬁn, however. won‘t be pinned down.
‘Someone came up to me and said. “Oh my sister‘s a drama teacher and she‘s deﬁnitely coming.“ which is great.‘ she says. ‘People are coming for all different reasons. My rules for acting better are absolutely what i believe. l don‘t tell anybody anything that 1 don‘t believe in.‘
Maybe. but Grifﬁn can‘t help sounding amused by the conceit of this show, which in Glasgow is being performed in the GFT so that Grifﬁn‘s face can be projected live onto the full- size screen. ‘lt's so exciting having a cameraman follow you the whole time,‘ she says. ‘lt‘s about narcissism a lot of it. To be an actor you really have to admit to yourself and everybody else that you like attention and you don’t have to justify that or give reasons for that. But if you don‘t want people‘s attention. you have no business being an actor.‘
Recruiting a group of local actors as her assistants. Grifﬁn gives genuine advice on stage and screen performing — she has led real-life workshops for the past four or ﬁve years - but also brings in backstage bickering and somehow gets taken over by the ghost of Sarah Bernhardt. Whether you turn up to learn orjust to be entertained. doesn‘t seem to matter. though at heart Grifﬁn is making at least some serious points. ‘1 would like people to think about acting,‘ she says. ‘lt‘s taking the mystery away from why something works on stage.‘ (Mark Fisher)
How to Act Better. Glasgow Film Theatre. Mon 10 May.
13 The List 7—20 May 1993