PREVIEW CONTEMPORARY DANCE NORMAN DOUGLAS 8. COMPANY Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 12 & Sat 13 Jun
Norman Douglas isn’t afraid to do his homework. As part of the research for his new triple-bill, the Glasgow choreographer has been digesting some pretty heavy stuff, including a tome on critical theory. ‘It’s taken me a year to read it,’ laughs Douglas, ‘and it will take me another three years to look up all the big words I’ve circled.’
Douglas has also been spending lengthy periods in Europe, soaking up the artistic style. Put the two together and you’ve got a programme of penetrating contemporary dance. Comprising two solos and a duet, the line-up is linked by one common thread. ‘They’re all about humanity,’ says Douglas. ‘And how we survive and hold on to our humility, with everything that’s going on.’
Opening solo, Say it’s not true, is inspired by the tragic life of French sculptor, Camille Claudel. A former lover of Auguste Rodin, Claudel spent 35 years in a psychiatric hospital, seemingly for no reason. ‘lt’s not
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biographical,’ says Douglas. ‘I’m commenting on society at that time and the unfairness of her being locked away for nothing.’ Douglas was also inspired by a trip to Paris, viewing porcelain figures by both Rodin and Claudel. ‘I took some of the choreography from that,’ he explains. ‘And when the dancer goes into those poses, the image appears on a video backdrop, so you can see the original.’
Touching Tongues, performed by Douglas himself, finds him dressed in underwear in a hard-hitting solo featuring a teddy bear. ‘The bear is hanging by its neck, limbs tied behind its back and eyes and mouth covered in tape,’ says Douglas. ‘And people have been outraged by it being treated that way, because it’s such a strong symbol - but the piece is all about keeping secrets.’
Final duet, Chara, was inspired by the aforementioned critical theory book and will receive its world premiere in Glasgow. Like the two pieces accompanying it, Douglas doesn’t shy away from the darker side of life. ‘I regard myself as a storyteller,’ he says. ‘Because all of these stories are in all of us - either in the past or the future, they’re in there.’ (Kelly Apter)
REVIEW ou l noon irimr rrr OTHELLO
(hopefully) fine weather.
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THE GARDEN OF ADRIAN GilmorehillG12, Glasgow, Mon 15-Sat 20 Jun
There can be few performers with the immense personal charm of Adrian Howells. His is a theatrical presence that Inspires trust. and deservedly so. Perhaps only Howells could carry off this latest piece of performance. which involves a journey around GilmorehillG 1 2.
We're promised a r’awshrng vrsual spectacle in this site-specific piece. courtesy of designer Minty Donald. but there's more to it than that. As well as two sites for contemplation. we are guided indiVidually by Howells through five for each of our senses. with a particular emphasis upon touch. ‘l end up spooning with them on a grassy knoll.’ Howell comments. ‘l've become very interested in the idea of bodily confession or bodily exchange in one to one performances over the last three years. This is about issues of intimacy. I think there's a great deal that goes on between people that isn't jllSl about speaking and listening. We often talk about the idea of confession as something that is spoken and heard. I'm trying to look at the idea that a lot goes on that's conveyed through touch.~
You might be alarmed by this prospect. but Howells is a performer to trust. "People who aren't familiar with my work might not be comfortable wrth this. but I see it as my responsibility to make the audience feel really at home and unthreatened. And of course. to make them realise that they have total agency to say. "I don't want to do that".' Meantime. you might find much to learn in Howells' gentle reflectzon on loneliness and isolation in our culture. iSteve Cramer'i
Traquair House, lnnerleithen, until Sat 13 Jun 0000
YOU know summer's finally arrived when the nation's brave outdoor theatre companies take to the al fresco stage for that all-too-brief window of long days and
Borders company Shakespeare at Traquair couldn't have a more dramatic natural backdrop to their work in the f3l)l'(l‘.'.’|lllg] gardens and grounds of 'l'r‘aguair' House. Scotland's oldest inhabited castle. lom l-ludson's production of Othello makes intelligent use of the varying levels. colours, light and spaces offered by this natural setting. swrftly manomrvring the audience from place to place as the action moyes from Venice to Cypress and the Jealous ring-master lago's dastardly plot to hoodwrnk his rival Othello and discredit Desdemona plunges towards its corpse<str'e\.'~.rn finale.
The abridged text lends a brisk pace to proceedings. and if the energy flags a little at times. the performances are generally strong. l‘ine support comes in the form of Rosemary Donald as Bi‘abantia il.)esdemona gaining a spirited mother while losing the father of the original text) and Donna Vaderberghen as Bianca. Cassie's mistress. Leah Moorehouse as Lmilia. Kristy Nicholson as Desdemona and Steve Russell as the hapless Moor all come into their own in the play's final rnovrng scenes. But it's Scott Noble who takes the acting laur‘els as the duplicitous, manipulative Iago. (‘lominating the scenes in which he is present and casting a watchful eye over proceedings from the shadows as his low plot takes effect. (Allan Radcliffel