unma- Aarsch words
Maverick performer Ken Campbell is back with a new mind-warping monologue. Below, he
its twisted roots.
Aarschgnoddles. A fine word, hub? The moment I came across it (July 20th) I grabbed it for mine. I‘d been ﬁlling notebooks with futile and unworkable suggestions to myself for the right narrative structure for tny next show: Violin 'Iinte. My problem is never ‘writer's block' but rather ‘writer's flux‘ — I know so much stuff and also how it all links. so I need a solid and precise structure to tell me what to leave out. otherwise all you get is a stream of consciousness almanac.
I‘ve now based the narrative/dramatic structure of Violin 'Iime on the phenomenon of aarsehgnoddles. The one central, ugly and offensive yet necessary AARSCH, fearsome even while dormant, then a-twitch, then roaring out odorous commands and sour comments to its Gnoddles. The Gnoddles: some gritty; flakey others. The ﬂuffy. almost loveable gnoddle. A linked pair of stubborn gnoddles.
My ﬁrst one-man show. The Remllerrtimrs afa Furtive Nudist was structured on tennis serving practice: in the ﬁrst half I served a load of balls across the net. one way. and then in the second half I went to the other end and served them all back.
The structure of l’igspurt or Six Pigs Front Happiness was the hat-stand in my hall: six hooks (stories) linked by an imposing centre-piece common to them all.
Jantais Vu was based on a sink- plunger. In Act One we looked directly and solely at the underpart ofa plunger, and thus it was circular in form. In Act Two, we realised we had been experiencing the base of a dome. In Act Three we put a handle on the thing.
Aarschgnoddles is not a new narrative/dramatic structure. Much of Flann O’Brien is, in my opinion, aarsehgnoddlic; Hellzapoppin '.’ certainly; Carry On movies of the great middle period. ‘Aarschgnoddles‘ is a Pennsylvanian/German term peculiar to the Amish Religious Community (featured in the ﬁlm Witness starring Harrison Ford). Bill Bryson deﬁnes it succinctly in his excellent Made in America: ‘AARSCHGNODDLES. n. pl. The globules of dung found on hair in the vicinity of the anus.‘
Violin Time, Ken Campbell. Traverse Theatre. Edinburgh. until Sun 24.
3 Well ’ard bard i
Tramway’s Dark Lights
‘, season isn’t all about i what’s shiny and new.
There‘s still a place for Shakespeare at the cutting , edge of theatre, as Theatre Babel’s Graham McLarcn insists to David Harris.
At ﬁrst it sounds like a cheap marketing ; ploy. but when (iraham .\lcl-aren claims that Theatre Babel is appealing to those who would rather see l’a/p I'lt'llllli than Shakespeare. he's simply telling it like it is. His mission is to show that the classical repertoire is not just a particularly vicious form of classroom punishment. but that it offers an alternative and rewarding slant on universal emotional concerns. ‘I see Quentin ~I'arantino as my main competition at the moment.’ he contends. ‘If it's attractive to this generation then I want to know why and I want to see if we can do it with a little more eloquence or ﬁnesscf Besides which. the plays in question contain more sex and violence and dangerous dames than the most unit of thrillers: Hamlet drives his ﬁancee to
i suicide and goes berserk with a rapier.
while Romeo and luliet's fatal attraction is fuelled by teenage lust and gang warfare.
Both plays are featured in ’I'ramway's vacuously named Darl' lie/its season, and ironically, the dernotic and the i
v. €122, Hamlet: Theatre Babel are gonna get Renaissance on yo’ ass experimental having become commonplace. they may be the most
adventurous events on offer. It is the I dearth of classical drama that spurred
.\lcl.at'en to found the company. ‘We have a tradition of vaudeville and variety in Scotland.‘ he says. ‘and that's w hat's popular People say it‘s easy to do Shakespeare because you‘ve got a guaranteed audience. but you haven't:
it's easy doing 'l'ln’ .S'tr'anttt'l'
(‘oncerued with reinvestigating the tests and discarding received ideas of
how they should be presented. 'I‘heatre
Babel is intent on taking the classics to parts that the RSC doesn‘t reach. and at
L prices everyone can afford. ‘I felt that if
you went to see a classical play. it was
very often being done for all the wrong reasons.‘ explains McLaren. ‘The play was servicing the company rather than the other way round; the playwright‘s intentions were blurred and it was a vehicle for a star actor or a fashionable director. l wanted to redress the balance.‘
Despite being perhaps the two most famous works in the canon. the plays are rarely performed — the last touring production of Hamlet was ﬁfteen years- ago —- and when they are. it usually involves a changing of the Bard. “People might think they know the plays. but they don‘t.‘ claims .\lcl.aren. ‘Christ. I thought I knew lllllll/(‘I until I started working on it?'
Elizabethan drama may seem -l()t) years out ofdatc. but its continuing relevance is inescapable. transceruling the limitations of contemporary. issue— speciﬁc theatre. "l‘he IiIi/abcthans were starting to discover a lot about their world and there was great optimism about new technology.‘ ;\lcl.at'ert enthuses. ‘but there was a kind of despair as well. a need to ﬁnd. il'you like. a new world order. Companies do shows about AIDS and homelessness; that‘s good, but to get to the nub of the problem you have to go higher up the ladder and these plays do that.‘
Familiarity breeds complacency. and McLaren recognises the difﬁculty in
I convincing audiences that actually l seeing the plays is worth the effort. But
' the real challenge lies in persuading
'l‘arantcenies that while I’ul/i fir/ion reflects a few passing trends. blank verse can hold an eternal mirror tip to human nature.
Romeo and Jii/ir't/llant/r't (alternate nigh/s) 'Ilu'atrc Babel. illar'lt’oln'rl .‘lrts Centre. Stirling. until Sat 23; ll“(lllllt'(l_\'. (i/asgon: Mon 25—321! 30 Sept.
City-dwellers are creatures of habit, but crushed together in the metropolis, every mundane action can I trigger endless unexpected : possibilities for human interaction and creativity. This is the premise of 7 Minutes, a one-off happening in the Tramway foyer timed to coincide with Theatre Babel’s performance of Romeo and Juliet. It is also the first part of a fourteen-week research process undertaken by Glasgow-based performance group Claniamfrie. The project will culminate in Satellite, a multi-media event in Glasgow city centre on Saturday 9 December. Unhappy with the process and the theatrical venues employed for their last work, Bloody Miracles, Beautiful lies, the company - a cabal of academics, artists and actors — want to reach ‘a total cross-section of people in the city,’ according to artistic collaborator Katrina Caldwell. To this end, they have transformed themselves into contemporary ! archivists. , ‘We’re going out as documentors into the city, as sound and video recordists,’ says Caldwell. In October,
5 this research will be extended, with mobile video boxes installed around
; the city in shopping centres and car
i parks. ‘It will give the people of
5 Glasgow the opportunity to contribute l something of their lives, a story or a
i thought. Questions will be asked and
£ then integrated into the final Satellite performance.’
Kicking off this investigation of the
5 city, the seven performers in 7 Minutes will begin with distinct stories that are expected to mesh and l evolve. Caldwell explains: ‘Other
? stories will infiltrate them and
I become confused. From this it will
tie: stripping chance meetings to their bare bones
become clear how peoples’ lives fuse together.’
flinging on repetitive actions, the piece will, Caldwell hopes, inform and be changed by its audience. ‘The actions have been picked at random: two strangers meet; two stories collide. What happens when these things are repeated and augmented with different objects?’
Whatever does happen, Claniamfrie will be staking out the scene and noting it down for future reference. (Deirdre Molloy)
7 Minutes, Clan/amine, Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 29 Sept only.
58 The List 22 Sept-5 Oct I995