:— ' ' ,t r, , I A l u '. I i ‘ I M ‘ ‘ 2 ’5 ' w ~.‘ ~
The contraption has wheels six foot high. rotates through 360 degrees and looks like a futuristic space vehicle. So what is it? ‘lt‘s a horse.‘ says Edinburgh-based choreographer and designer. Stephen Hooper. Course it is.
The Rotosphere. as the large. black metal ‘stage-horse‘ is known. is the fourth cast member in Hooper‘s company Soft Bodies. Hard Metal which works with both able-bodied and disabled dancers. The group is now preparing its first full-length piece La Belle Dante — a wild contemporary spin on Keats's romantic poem. Dramatic as it looks, Hooper insists the ‘horse‘ is not central to the play. The story of its design. however, is bizarre.
The idea came to H0oper. an ex-RAF engineer turned dancer. after he was crippled for nine months with mercury poisoning from the fillings in his teeth. Several years and £12,000 later. the back-of—an-envelope idea has become a wheelchair of such radical design that it blazes a trail wherever it goes.
Having rolled round a series of workshop sessions throughout Britain, offering able-bodied and disabled passengers a go, the Rotosphere is now back where it belongs — on stage with the rest of the Soft Bodies, Hard Metal dancers; Craig McKnight, Peter Titus and wheelchair athlete Evelyn Neave. What Hooper and his co-director Pete Purdy are preparing to unveil is that rarity — a contemporary dance piece with a storyline.
‘it‘s been a real challenge.‘ H00per admits. ‘Having to create characters really pins you down. You can’t get away with any indulgent navel gazing.‘
Hooper spent hours studying Keats‘s ﬂowery ode to the beautiful, TB- stricken maiden — the original Belle Dame. But the resulting dance piece bears little resemblance to Keats‘s romanticised vision of love and death. ’The more i looked at the poem. the more i realised it was all based on Christian misogyny,‘ explains Hooper. ‘l wanted a strong, powerful Belle Dame, so i had to look elsewhere.‘ Hooper‘s search lead him back to the Bible, where he found the final inspiration for his Belle Dame in Eve‘s independent alter-ego Lilith — the Bible‘s original rock chick. (Ellie Carr) [11 Belle Dame by Soft Bodies, Hard Metal is at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre on Tue 9 May before heading to Mayfest; Chandler Studio Theatre. Glasgow from Fri 12-Sat 13 May.
30" Wm”- ' ' “"hm'ca' “mm exploration ot sexual otherness and
. cultural identity equates the
T woman taking the stage and pulling a Union Jack out of . . . well, let’s just
Pacitti himself shows his allegiance
, he claims his inspiration comes from a
3 response, but I’m not out there trying I to shock,’ he says. ‘Although I will | work with theatrical devices, the l
Some years ago, a heavily hyped performance piece was playing to a Iess-than-receptive crowd at the Royal Albert Hall. After an hour or so, people were leaving en masse and the heckling had reached riotous proportions. The place was in uproar when a lone voice cut through the cacophony: ‘Shut up! Just shut up . . . I’m trying to read my book!’ Audience indifference shouldn’t be a problem in Robert Pacitti’s Geek, a multi-media piece featuring live theatre, film and slide projections, tape-recordings and live rock music from Breathless. Drawing on Pacitti’s visits to Coney Island freakshows, this
perception of performing geeks with the labelling of queerness as a behavioural abnormality.
The performance opens with a naked
say it’s a trick that Paul Daniels couldn’t attempt. Later in the show,
to the flag by vomiting on it. Such acts may be deliberately provocative, but
level deeper than the pyloric , sphincter. ‘Some people may be upset, , and in one way that’s an emotional
motivation is always emotional.’
Robert Pacitti: freaky geeky
Pacitti denies that this is all some form of public therapy. ‘Df course, part of me loves it, but another part finds it quite difficult being so vulnerable. If I had a verbal language for all of it then maybe I wouldn’t do it.’
Less visceral but perhaps more arcane is Studio MAP’s Nation, another collage of performance, dance, music, text and visual art. Director Marc J. Hawker hopes to create an environment reflecting the performers’ obsessions and desires ‘The performance becomes a ritual,’ he says, ‘and the audience become participants, voyeurs, so the power of what we do comes from what happens on the night.’
Working with a group of Serbian performers, including ballerina Sonia Vukicjevic, the company will retain some control over the proceedings ‘so it doesn’t become a 60s free-for-all.’ If you take a book along, don’t expect to
a read in peace. (David Harris)
Geek, Robert Pacitti Company, CCA, Thurs 18—Sat 20 May; Nation, Studio MAP, Tramway, Wed 10-Sun 14 May.
DEERE—l Kid stuff
Anyone mounting an international theatre co-production usually needs a degree in diplomacy and an awful lot of kudos to make it happen. For a company as young as Glasgow’s Theatre Cryptic to pull it off, complete with a commission from a Booker Prize nominee, ls just plain precocious. This feat can largely be put down to the ebullient have-a-go attitude of director Cathie Boyd who, inspired by the work of French/English author and poet Michele Roberts, contacted her with a view to doing something for Cryptic. ‘Amazingly she said yes,’ says Boyd. ‘I let her choose the storyline, because talking to her from the beginning it was obvious we were working on the same lines. She’s allowed us a lot of freedom too. It sounds strange but when I read her books I read it as theatre, so I wanted her to write us a story, which I’ve adapted into this piece of theatre.’ Roberts’s text tells the story of Annie and Daniel, whose childless marriage they’ve come to see as a failure, acting as a barrier to their relationship. Roberts will see the production when she visits to give a reading in Glasgow, where Child-Lover will tour extensively with an international cast. ‘The two main characters are played by Guebecols actors, so they’ve got a special emotional connection,’ explains Boyd.
Sister of mercy: Loe’iza Mary-Jacg ln Chlld-lover
much more physicality than us.’
Boyd is loath to call Child-lover a straightforward play, because of the way it weaves the strongly poetic narrative with Tracy Alexander Bigg’s sumptuous 24-door set and live music. ‘We’ve always used original music, but for the first time we’re using an opera singer,’ says Boyd. ‘The composer David Paul Jones is very influenced by the Cocteau Twins and their use of what we call non-literal texts. So it’s not opera-theatre exactly, but it is theatre with opera. The piece isn’t about fertility or ranting on about wanting a baby; it’s really about the lack of communication between this couple, which we show physically and vocally.’ (lleil Cooper)
Child-Lover by Theatre Cryptic is at Tramway, 10—14 May, then touring. Michele Roberts will read at
‘They also move so differently, with
Waterstone’s in Glasgow on 11 May.
GETTING THE HUMP
Theatre du Kronope: tears and laughter with the lowlife
Bringing a touch of Gallic grotesque to gallus Glasgow. Avignon‘s Theatre du Kronope arrive at Mayfest with a spirited adaptation of Victor Hugo‘s classic novel The Hunchback ofNotre- Dante. Not satisﬁed with llugo‘s 19th century setting. Theatre du Kronope have transposed their version Notre Dame de Paris to the searny underworld of medieval Paris, and in particular. the Court of Miracles — a dark and putrid place inhabited by thieves. liars and social rejects. A place \\ here the normal rules of society have been turned upside down. beggars rule the roost and a hunchbank can enjoy some status.
Although the play is performed in French. an English synopsis of each scene is provided and the company hopes to transcend arty remaining communication barriers through the visual inventiveness and sheer physicality of their interpretation. The masks used by the actors are designed to represent the personalities of the characters as much as their physical appearance - a literal case of wearing your heart on your sleeve.
While the story is set among a growing underclass. Theatre du Kronope see little similarity between their work and present-day conditions in France. Rather it draws on more universal themes. ‘it‘s a love story.‘ says the company‘s Marie Fuissard. ‘That aspect of life has always existed and always will, i hope. It's a story of passion and jealousy - emotions which are timeless. But the play isn‘t an examination of the 20th century. it is set very ﬁrmly in medieval times.‘ (Jonathan Trew)
Norm-Dame de Paris, Tron Theatre. Glasgow; 552 4267. Thurs lI—Sat 13, 7.30pm. £5 (£2).
to The List 5-18 May 1995