NEW DANCE Peter Darrell Dance
Trust Edinburgh: Festival Theatre, Fri 4 Feb. 7.30pm.
The Peter Darrell Trust Choreographic Award is both a mouthful and an honour. As founder and artistic director of Scottish Ballet, the late Darrell was a key figure in British dance. Established in 1998, the award gives emerging dance-makers the chance to devise and stage a new work with a professional company.
Last time it was doled out, three choreographers were competing for a single prize. By contrast, this year's choreographers are, in the words of Trust administrator Judy Spence, 'winners from the start.’ Jan De Schynkel and Liz Roche were chosen from among 27 applicants by a panel consisting of Scottish Dance Theatre's artistic director Janet Smith, former Scottish Ballet ballerina Elaine McDonald, contemporary dancer Gill Clarke and choreographer Kim Brandstrup.
While both De Schynkel and Roche were assured of their victory, neither had the luxury of time. Last month the pair were having to share Scottish Dance Theatre’s small ensemble of dancers over the same intense, two and a half week period of creation in Dundee. During a rehearsal break, each tried to gauge just what kind of work the award was yielding from them.
Flemish-born De Schynkel, 32, describes his dances as ’bizarre, surreal and complicated.’ A former teen-age gymnast, he danced with various European companies before joining Rambert Dance Company in 1996. Two years later he formed his own group, BARAK, to simultaneously pursue his own choreographic ideas. ’My pieces always start with visions,’ he says. ‘Slowly meanings come on top.’ In the sextet She Is As He Eats, De Schynkel is exploiting his 'fascination for the theatricality and strangeness of human behaviour, observing and exaggerating people like the
Breaking the bounds: Peter Darrell Trust Dances
Expressionists used to do. I try to evoke intense feelings, rather than just make movement material.‘
Roche, 24, has danced with loads of companies in her native Ireland. In 1996 the Irish Times dubbed her Choreographer of the Year. But, she says, 'Ireland is a bit of an island. It's good to move out and see how people work abroad.’ Although her duet-based quartet To Time Taking Blush has no narrative, Roche calls it 'a piece with very real emotions and situations, but expressed in a slightly abstract way.’ Her major inspiration is Fauvism, an early 20th century art movement centred round French painter Henri Matisse and marked by violent colours. But, she’s quick to explain, 'l’m playing with concepts instead of portraying painters. I want to get a lush landscape onstage.‘ (Donald Hutera)
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Dolling out the truth: Waiting Room
law. Despite sharing a familial bond, in many ways the women are strangers. Their relationship is further complicated by a war that rages outside their room. The location, however, lS never specified and the central focus is on the tension that develops between the characters. ’lt’s about how they survive and how they choose to survwe,’ reflects Wright. ’In order to survrve they have to find ways to keep their minds going. They play games with each other, sometimes they support each other, sometimes they tease and torment each other, as they try not to be defeated by the things that surround them.’
Speedrun was notable for its heightened language and Waiting Room also contains experimental elements. 'lt has moments of naturalism,’ Wright comments, 'but
Glasgow: Tron Theatre, Tue 8—Sat 12 Feb.
When Isabel Wright’s debut play Speedrun was performed at The Tron box-office in 1998, her age was the initial talking point But very quickly
. the strength of her miting took
prominence over her relative youthful- ness. Now, at the ripe old age of twenty-three, she continues her short but successful career With Waiting Room.
Promoted to the venue's new studio theatre, the play is set in a single room and examines the relationship between a young woman and hm not“...
generally it is much more stylised, both the language and the setting. There's quite a dreamlike quality to the whole thing — or more nightmarish.’
Wright is a promising talent who’s being tipped for greater things. Check out one of the next generation of Scottish writers while they’re still in their forn‘iative years (Davre Archibald)
SEQUEL Women On The Verge . . . Get A Life!
Edinburgh: King's Theatre, Tue 15-19 Feb.
When two fortysomething Daniel O'Donnell fans from Donegal take off on a journey of self-discovery to the Gambia, the scene is set for Marie Jones’ new play. ’lt's about two women who both have problems coming to terms with middle age,’ explains Jones. ’They don’t just want to change their physical bodies by taking HRT, they want a complete change of outlook.’
The sequel to Women On The Verge Of HRT, this play takes the same two characters, Anna and Vera, and examines the future that lies ahead of them after ’the change' hits. The journey begins when Vera, waiting in the doctor’s reception for her HRT prescription, sees an advertisement in Marie Claire for holidays in the Gambia, speCifically for women in their late forties. She then persuades her friend Anna, who's resigned herself to a barren life, to join her on the adventure. Ironically it's Anna who finds love in a strange and exotic new land.
Written and directed by Jones, the play originates from personal experience. The holiday in the Gambia is one Jones herself embarked on and returned from to write what was originally a radio play and now a stage production. Now in her late forties, Jones has also attempted to set the record straight about a previously taboo subject in this warm and funny play. ’When women talk about "the change" it’s always in hushed tones and I’ve come to realise that it shouldn’t be treated like this. Women shouldn’t be frightened to talk about it, laugh about it and get it out in the open. it’s not a blight, it's just something that happens.’
The cast includes Ruth Hegarty, who played Vera in the original play and Amanda Hurwitz, a performer Jones has also worked with previously, in the role of Anna. She says of these two: ’They’re really feisty women. They've got warmth and a great sense of humour which is really important for my plays.’ (Catherine Bromley)
Rebel without a menopause: Woman On The Verge . . . GetA Lifel
3-17 Feb 2000 THE U37 51