Northern Stars: NBT in Borneo and Juliet
For the man in the driving seat of Nonhem Ballet Theatre. Christopher Gable has a fairly cynical view of his art. ‘Ballet has become a pretty, bland art form.’ he says of the endless frilly. tutu classics being churned out by mainstream ballet machines. ‘lfevery company is doing the same thing. then the public are left with only six ballets, and that’s unfonunate.‘
Brave words from someone who‘s about to stage a production of Romeo and Juliet. a ballet which has probably seen more curtain-ups than the original spoken version from the Bard. This Romeo and Juliet will be different, though. says Gable. For a start there‘s the dancers. Most ofthose who join the ranks of NBT come from the attached school, where as Gable explains they get a training like no other. ‘I looked at what was happening elsewhere in the country, and it was going for longer, higher, faster — which is fine for an
athlete. but not for an artist. You end up -
with gloriﬁed gymnasts. When I did establish the course, I decided there would be as much emphasis on creativity and modern dance techniques — like Graham — as there was on ballet.’ Then ofcourse there‘s the choreographer, hot-shot ltalian Massimo Moricone. No creaky. courtly. English Romeo and Juliets round here. Moricone the dancemaker is no stranger to passion, and like Gable, he likes nothing better than to inject his ballets with a touch ofearthy, angular modem dance. The result, says Gable, is a vibrant, full-bodied ode to Shakespeare‘s star-crossed lovers, and one that brings a slightly dusty old ballet back to life for today‘s audience. ‘When you present these great stories,‘ he says, ‘you have to do them in a way that‘s relevant to today. Our job is to draw the audience into the huge issues at stake — love, death, hate. It has to be entertainment, but it also has to be about things that matter.‘ (Ellie Carr) Romeo and Juliet. Northern Ballet Theatre. Theatre Royal. Glasgow: Tue 6—Sat 10 June. 7.15pm; Thurs/Sat mat 2.15pm.
Moliere’s George Dandin - which comes to Stirling this fortnight on its only Scottish date - first came to Baniit Bolt’s attention when he was still in his ‘day iob’ as a stockbroker in the 80s. flow an acclaimed theatrical penman, with an acclaimed CV that includes work for the 880, the National, Sir Peter Hall and Dr Jonathan Miller, Bolt was introduced to the play by a friend. ‘lle suggested I
‘ make it into a musical,’ he recalls.
Musical it isn’t, but Bolt was inspired '
by the play’s cruel sexual intrigue, in some ways parallel to Moliere’s own marriage, as Dandin is cuckolded by . his wife. ‘It is a very funny farce, but also has a very interesting dark, masochistic side,’ he explains. ‘In a very unusual, three-tiered structure the play shows how she outwits him as he tries to catch her at it. He’s married to an upper-class girl, but he’s from a self-made class, which threatens the aristocracy, so he also has a strong sense of menace.’
The play also offered Bolt other challenges, with its mixture of verse and prose. ‘Verse is more difficult, and can be untranslatable (Homer, for example) but the process can be more creative,’ he says. ‘The original translation was also too short, so we lengthened it in rehearsal, swear
1%? ‘ » , Blind-fooled: Malcolm Bidley as G
words and all.’ Such additions may complement the production’s contemporary style, with Dandin portrayed as a Geordie.
Bolt denies that the sexual politics of the play are put in any strong sociological, contemporary context, but does admit it shows how difficult it can be to pass ‘the four exams of life - work, family, health and love- life’, the last being the hardest.
George Dandin represents the first visit this year by London-based Fringe stalwarts Bed Shift Theatre Company. With no Scottish dates planned for their next tour, this will be a unique chance to see work by a company and a writer who consistently score well in that first exam. (Peter Kimpton) George Dandin, Bed Shift Theatre Company, Maciiobert Arts Centre, Thurs 8 June.
Most people look at the human body. lIot Miranda Tufnell, she listens. It’s a phrase that crops up frequently in her speech — “listening to the body’ - and one that marks her out clearly as a member of that chilled-out, new-age breed of dance artist which now seems to have as much in common with holistic medicine as with other styles of contemporary dance.
Tufnell’s own style developed first as a backlash against an orthodox dance training, then flourished when she discovered Alexander Technique - a discipline which encourages the balance of mind and body through adopting a stress and strain-free posture. It all leads to a very minimalist way of moving, the closest approximation to which is probably the slow-buming 20th century Japanese dance form known as butoh (to which, incidentally, lots of Western new-age dance types are now turning, to find deeper meaning than just high kicks and pirouettes).
Tufnell’s latest work Invisible Forces of Silver is, true to form, less physical than spiritual. She and co-creators Sylvia Hallett (musician) and Caroline lee (visual artist) did not start out with a single idea about how the piece would ‘look’, but spent weeks intently building up layers of texture, sound and movement until they got the ‘atmosphere’ they required. There was outside stimulus - from the Ben Okri
i. V , ' (rah/ﬂ) l. i . ' .r'.\._i /// '
Invisible Forces: Miranda Tuffnell branches out
poem which gave the piece its name, and a series of wooden garden sculptures — but most of the creative spark came from Tufnell’s favourite source, the abstract world of dreams. ’What I look for,’ she explains, ‘is an undercurrent of images that have real resonance. The only way I can access that is in a dream state. In that edge between sleeping and waking.’
The result of this particular dream- time is the combined force of an echo~ ey ambient soundscape by Hallet, giant copper and willow sculptures from Lee and Tufnell’s measured movement. It all adds up to a kind of cross-media ‘experience’ which, by Tufnell’s own admission, is as close to art installation as it is to dance. (Ellie Carr)
Miranda Tuffnell, Invisible Forces of Silver, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Sun 11 June.
ANNIVERSARY KIRK WARDEN
Built in I795. before the boom years that made Glasgow smile better. The Tron is 200 years old this month. Since 1981. the fonner church has been a theatre of steadily growing importance. playing host to such unholy presentations as Dr Faustus, Macbeth and a string of boisterous pantos.
The man at the artistic helm of the Tron Theatre is Michael Boyd. ‘The Tron is still reallyjust about my favourite theatre.’ he explains. ‘lt has great intimacy and is nine metres tall, so it's got a very strong combination of the personal and the epic. The other thing is the magic of the space — it‘s one of the oldest churches in Glasgow; and it's got to be on a leyline.
Boyd has now been nurturing the theatre‘s growth for a decade. ‘1 think part of one‘s achievement is actually making people take your work seriously.‘ he says. ‘and that takes time.’ An early success — Peter Amott’s Thomas Muir - was 'not particularly celebrated‘, but to Boyd it was a creative stepping stone. Others he cites are a daring adaptation of Ted Hughes‘s Crow. Michel Tremblay‘s The Real Warltlf’ and Maebeth. points on a journey soon to continue with Janice Galloway‘s The Trick is 10 Keep Breathing.
Strong collaborative links as far-ﬂung as Montreal and Moscow are another conspicuous achievement, but Boyd is equally proud of the Tron‘s ‘populist stream‘: pantos by Forbes Masson and Alan Cumming. Peter Capaldi and Craig Ferguson; comedies like The Gllltl Sisters, Padth '5 Market and Dtanbstrta'k.’.
This light-hearted vein will be tapped at Cabaret 200. a gala performance by Masson. Bruce Morton and other Tron stalwarts to mark the bicentenary. ‘It would be disgusting if it was a wha '3‘ like as exercise,’ says Boyd. ‘On the whole. we‘re choosing things for their ability to entertain rather than their deep signiﬁcance in the history of the Tron. lt's reallyjust a cabaret with a theme.‘ (Andrew Burnet) Cabaret 200, Tron Theatre. Glasgow. Thurs [.5 aml l-‘ri Io June.
The List 3- l5 Jun [905 51