Theatre 0 0 Dance
Marguerite Duras, novelist, poet, playwright and general grande dame of French writing is currently as popular and talked about as at any time in her life. Her death in 1996 brought new, somewhat belated perspectives to her work, the major characteristics of which did not alter throughout her life. It has been said of Duras that she only wrote about herself, but if there’s some truth to this, it distorts the intensely passionate, subjective vision which so compelled her afficionados throughout her long writing career.
India Song, an account of a sudden passion which takes place between the wife of the French Ambassador to India and the vice consul of Lahore in the 19305, is in most respects a characteristic Duras drama. It takes in its author's own experience, since Duras herself was born in French Indochina to an expatriate plantation-owning family, and came to know pre-war Asia well, particularly the decadent world of the colonists. It also deals
with pre-rational sexual attraction, another recurrent Duras obsession. And perhaps most characteristic of all, it is notoriously difficult to stage.
Ivo Van Hove, the Flemish director of this production, comments: ‘Duras is a totally different writer from either Camus or O'Neill. She writes about stuff she wants to write about, in an extreme way. In India Song, she wanted nothing to be said live on stage. The story is told by voices, first two women's, then two men's. This was a challenge for the actors, because we don't know a lot about the characters on stage - they‘re not realistic characters.’
This kind of project might intimidate many a director,
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Duras's work is asian well: The occidental tourist in India Story
but Van Hove has taken a characteristically bold approach to the piece: 'Normally, when you go to see a Duras play, you go to look at literature. That‘s the feeling. I took an opposite position. I tried to make a performance of it. I‘ve asked the actors to go along with the music [live, in this production] and the story - you can't be rationalistic, you have to make the audience feel like they're drowning in the sea.’ With a characteristically theatrical approach, Van Hove hopes to bring alive a very ‘literary' text. (Steve Cramer)
I For details, see Hit list, right.
Don’t try this at home: The Most Dangerous Room In The House
DANCE PREVIEW The Most Dangerous Room In The House
The dance arm of this year’s International Festival has yielded a small but choice crop of first-time visiting artists. Among those making Festival debuts are Boris Charmatz, Meg Stuart and, during the Festival's last week, both America’s Susan Marshall and Spain’s Juan Carlos Garcia.
Marshall, branded ’one of the most significant choreographers working today’ by no less an organ than the New York Times, has been making dances for her own company since 1982. Since then, her work has evolved from small-scale and pointed pieces like the early Arms, a five minute duet for the upper body, to dances of considerably larger scope and vision. These include a recent dance-opera spectacle based on Jean Cocteau's Les Enfants Terribles, made in collaboration with Philip Glass, and
the piece she is bringing to Edinburgh. All of them reflect Marshall's abiding interest in presenting onstage, through dance and related arts, psychological and emotional truths.
The Most Dangerous Room In The House is an outwardly fragmented dance~theatre drama that rings with compassionate alarm about the way we live. The production functions as a kind of blurred memory biography of an older woman who is surrounded by younger characters; they may be facets of herself, or represent those she once knew at critical times in the past.
Marshall, born in 1958, refers to the way she’s handled this central character as an 'excavation. These are the only pieces you are able to get, and you have to figure out how to put them together.‘ (Donald Hutera)
I The Most Dangerous Room In The House (International) Susan Marshall And Company, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, 473 2000, 30—37 Aug. 7.30pm, £5-£20.
I I I1 III I ‘Bt \ All the best in suppertime theatre and comedy.
India Song See preview, left. India Song (International) Het Zuide/y'k Toneel, King ’5 Theatre, 473 2000, 37 Aug-4 Sep. 7.30pm, £5—E22.50.
The Most Dangerous Room In The House See preview, left The Most Dangerous Room In The House (International) Susan Marshall and Company, Festival Theatre, 473 2000, 30-37 Aug, 7.30pm, £5—E20.
The Right Size: Do You Come Here Often? Mad entertainment from this comic duo, who present the story of two men locked in a lavatory for 25 years. See review on following pages. The Right Size: Do You Come Here Often? (Fringe) The Right Size, Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug.
6. 30pm, £9/E8 (E 8/£ 7).
African Experience A blend of contemporary and traditional dance explains the history of Africa through movement, colour and splendour. See review on following pages. African Experience (Fringe) Meadows Theatre Big Top (Venue 789) 667 0202, until 28 Aug, 7pm, £ 72.50/E8 (E 70/E 6).
Hello Dali Atomic This bizarre account of the weird life of an eccentric surrealist is performed, in the most literal sense, by numbers. Anyone captivated by good theatre should make tracks for this one. See review on following pages. Hello Dali Atomic (Fringe) Whispering Eyes Theatre Company, C cubed (Venue 126) 225 5705, until 30 Aug, 7.30pm, £7 (£5).
Mats Ek Trilogy Mats Ek choreographs three short modern pieces. See review on following pages. Mats Ek Trilogy (International) Mats E k, Edinburgh Playhouse, 4 73 2000, 27—28 Aug, 7. 30pm, £5—E25.
26 Aug—9 Sep 1999 THE LIST 35