Dirty Work Glasgow: CCA, Tue 8 & Wed 9 Dec.
Nothing is impossible in the realm of theatre. This new show by Forced Entertainment, for example, features five nuclear explosions and a city overgrown with foliage, yet it is performed by three people on a bare stage, accompanied only by a crackly old record of piano music.
’On the one hand it’s absurdly spectacular, with all the things that it describes,’ admits co-director Tim Etchells. 'In another sense, it’s the most minimal and intimate and delicate piece of work you could possibly imagine. It's very frail, very vulnerable.’
Dirty Work’s strategy is simple: two performers describe the show they plan to stage, relying on the audience's engagement to conjure
Shameless and brutal: Tim Etchells
the images. One inspiration was a former Alcatraz inmate’s account of surviving solitary by summoning up a television screen inside his head.
'It's very shameless - brutal in a way,’ says Etchells. ’This show will eat anything that you put in its path. Anything can be presented as if it were some sort of amusing vaudeville turn. It revels in that, and at the same time it goes through periods where you start to wonder about the ethics of all that.’
Post-modernist to the last, Dirty Work also comments on theatre and the media. ’It’s partly about an audience’s hunger for spectacle,’ says Etchells. ’And about the way that politics and warfare and even everyday life are increasingly a branch of the media. To conduct a war or a political campaign effectively, you have to manifest it properly in the media. Similarly, everyday life gets video-diaryed and turned into spectacle — that’s the context that the show‘s made in.’
Founded in the mid-80$ — after its members graduated from a revolutionary drama course at Exeter University
— Forced Entertainment has a reputation as one of Britain's leading exponents of the artform lazily known as ’experimental theatre'. As well as unconventional theatre shows, the company has created 'durational' performances, art gallery installations, site-specific work and - recently - interactive CD-ROMs, with photographer Hugo Glendinning. Etchells is also about to publish End/and Stories, a book of leftfield fiction anticipating the millennium.
With Forced Entertainment, however, it's always been a collaboration. ’It's a very group-based, hands-on, messy, practical process, rather than a dry, cerebral one,’ explains Etchells. Which merely confirms what we already suspected: you'll be needing an open mind for this one. (Andrew Burnet)
a End/and Stories is published by Pulp Books on Sat 30 Jan, priced f 8. 99. The new CD-ROM, Nightwa/ks, is available by mail order from Forced Entertainment, The Workstation, 46 Shoreham Street, Sheffield S 7 ASP priced [ 75 incl post & packing.
Cherchez La Fille: guest principal Tiekka Schofield
70 THE lIST i an W98
La Fille Mal Gardée/ Cinderella
Like poor old Cinders, Scottish Ballet has spent yet another year chasing its prince, or more aCCUrately its knight in shining armour, After two years Without an artistic director and a well- dOCUmented catalogue of other setbacks it would seem even a fairy godmother could not produce the figure reguued to steer Scotland's national ballet company back on course
As the company approaches its traditionally bumper Christmas season, recent newspaper reports have even suggested that its death knell is s0undirig. Acting artistic director, Kenn Burke, fast becoming a permanent fixture, is adamant that last rites are a long way off.
'We've got four new ballets going on in spring and a revival of La Sy/phide,’ he argues. .‘This is not a company that's gomg six feet under. I've got world-class choreographers wanting to come and work With us.’ Ticket sales in Edinburgh are up threefold on this time last year, and Burke is confident that audiences
WI” conSider their money well spent on the Christmas chOice of La Fi'lle Mal Gardee and Cinderella
‘i think the company is looking stronger than it's looked for a long time,’ states Burke. 'Technically its great and we've got a bunch of wonderful characters on stage '
Drafted in last year when a new Christmas ballet by Robert Cohan fell through, Frederick Ashton’s La Fille is a family show With a real pantomime feel — minus the singalongs, With its fairytale storyline and opulent cossies, Peter Darrell's Cinderella is closer to the Nutcracker school of festive ballets that send small girls starry-eyed.
First staged twenty years ago by company founder Peter Darrell, the ballet has seen as many changes as it has Cinderellas. Burke’s challenge has been to give an old fav0urite a new look
'What we've done is taught the Original,' he explains, 'but we've looked at the various versions and taken the bits that best SUII the Current cast It doesn't look twenty years old It looks very fresh, done on today's dancers with today’s approach to the work '
’Tis the season to be jolly
CAUSES FOR CELEBRATION are coming thick and fast. Dundee Rep - which recently announced the formation of a resident acting company - has also received funding of £2.3 million from the Scottish Arts Council (SAC)’s Lottery fund for a major refurbishment.
The SAC has also announced a major boost in funding to theatres over the next two years. The £460,000 increase will be used partly to improve funding for established major theatres. It will also allow the formation of a new £400,000 drama production fund, to be called Scotland On Stage, which is designed to increase the number, improve the geographical spread and extend the runs of theatre shows.
A well-deserved leg-up also goes to Glasgow's Arches Theatre, which has been awarded revenue funding of £20,000 per annum, rising to £25,000 for the next two years. As reported last issue, Arches director Andy Arnold has also been shortlisted for the Creative Britons awards.
LESS CHEERFUL is news from the much-beleaguered Scottish Ballet. General manager David Williams has decided not to seek renewal of his contract, following the interim appointment of Norman Quirk as managing director. Quirk's six-month post was created to facilitate the company's intended management merger with Scottish Opera. Williams is believed to have discussed the situation with lawyers, but is not thought to be taking legal action.
FINALLY, ADMIRERS of Robert Lepage - wizard of hi-tech collaborative theatre - can look forward to seeing his latest devised piece, Geometry Of Miracles which receives its UK premiere in Glasgow in March. Inspired by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the show will tie in with a major Lloyd Wright exhibition as part of Glasgow 1999, City of Architecture & Design. Geometry Of Miracles is co-produced by Tramway, but will be staged at the SECC. Tramway itself does not re-open until January 2000.
Designs on Glasgow: Robert Lepage