Theatre this February

As you are now so once were we opened in the Peacock this week. This was one of my favourite shows of the Fringe Festival and I’m looking forward to seeing it again. It’s funny and clever and made me smile; I can’t recommend it highly enough! It’s on until the 5th February.

The following week Connected opens in the Project. This is another show from last year’s Fringe, but one I didn’t manage to see. It was a Show in the Bag show and was nominated for Bewley’s Little Gem Award during the Fringe.

Bewley’s Café Theatre relaunched their website this week and it’s worth a look. ‘Life’ – a one woman show, on this Saturday evening looks interesting.

Also coming up in February is The Theatre Machine Turns You On – Volume II at the Project, February 15 – 19. I completely missed this mini-festival last year, so I’m looking forward to seeing a few shows this time around. The Project also has a Real Deal where you can get tickets to four shows for €22 – great value!

Void Story

Void Story is performed by four actors, sitting behind tables, behind microphones and sound desks while the visuals are supplied by a series of badly Photoshop-ed images projected onto the big screen. And they still manage to bring the audience completely into their world.

My favourite kind of theatre is one that creates it’s own little universe, that recognises it’s futile to chase after realism and instead brings a brand new world to the stage. One of the things Forced Entertainment do a lot is show the artifice of a theatre production; so actors will change their costumes on stage, or wear signs with their character’s name or profession so you know who they are pretending to be.

In Void Story, the background images don’t try to be true to life. Each one is obviously made from three or other photographs stuck together haphazardly, so you can clearly see the joins. They are like the collages children make. They look completely off-kilter and are completely right for the story.

The story is about a day that goes from bad to worse two characters, Kim and Jackson. They are shot at, forced to leave their home, chased through sewers by armed guards, kidnapped, threatened by small children, attacked by bears and worse. But this is all told with a wry humour. I had forgotten how funny Forced Entertainment are but within the first five minutes, the audience were laughing enthusiastically at poor Kim and Jackson’s misfortunes. Though by the end, we’d become quite attached to the pair of them.

I really enjoyed it. It had a wonderful style all of it’s own, and even though it was set in the most depressing and desperate world ever, it didn’t feel that far from reality.

I have finally seen Forced Entertainment and I was very impressed by them!

Forced Entertainment

I first heard of Forced Entertainment when I was studying drama in the UK. One of our teachers didn’t turn up for class one day and because there was no-one else available, a small, old fashioned television was wheeled in on a trolley and we were forced to watch Club of No Regrets. It was like sticking a video on to keep up the class quiet. I was 23 and this felt too much like school. This might be why I took against Forced Entertainment at first.

It was also a really bad recording, with terrible sound quality was terrible on an old, crackly video. It was not the best introduction to any theatre company.

We saw other clips of there work though out uni, though they were always badly made recordings on old video tapes. I didn’t understand what they were trying to do and it all seemed a bit too self-indulgent and annoying.

Then I read Certain Fragments and suddenly it all made sense. Tim Etchells’ essays made it clear what they were trying to do, much better than the old, badly-made recordings. And I really liked the ideas and the performance texts from the Forced Entertainment shows. It made me want to see how they combined all these elements and what they actually did onstage. That was almost three years now and I still haven’t seen them live.

But this is about to change! I’m going to see Void Story in the Project this Thursday. I’m a little bit excited about it. I’m really looking forward to it and have been since I bought my ticket last November. There’s going to be a post-show discussion and everything!

The show itself sounds strange and interesting – “part radio play, graphic novel, science fiction and fable” and I think it will be a much better introduction than my previous one!

There are still tickets available if you want to come and see for yourself what they’re all about. And if you’re not in Dublin, you can still enjoy Tim Etchells’ imaginary event calendar at Vacuum Days.

Review of the year

Even though the calendar has already changed, it still feels to me like the new year hasn’t quite begun. The Christmas celebrations are all over but real life hasn’t started up again just yet. There is a definite feeling of things ending and the possibility of new beginnings and a definite time for reflecting on the past and making resolutions for the future.

This time last year, I was working on my final assignment for the Open University playwriting course I’d started the previous November. It was due in the last week of January, the same week I started another playwriting course with the Gaiety School of Acting. I really enjoyed both courses, liked learning about how to put a play together and wrestling with dialogue that always seemed to say too much about what was happening on stage and not enough about the character saying it. I didn’t find it easy but I did enjoy the challenge.

The Vagina Monologues rehearsals were also going in the first few months of the year. I love that play – there is so much in each monologue, they are funny and moving and heart-breakingly sad in turn, but they also each have a very clear voice. I’ve done the play twice and I’ve heard each monologue many, many times but I still love listening to them. As well as each individual monologue being wonderful, the play as a whole works fantastically well. It brings the audience on a journey but also takes care of them. I would love to be able to write a play like that.

I enjoyed being part of The Vagina Monologues for lots of reason. I’ve already listed them all here, so I won’t repeat myself.

In May, I went to Project Brand New and wrote lots about the pieces I saw over the three nights. As ever, I was inspired by the wonderful and diverse theatre that I saw there. (I didn’t write about PBN 6 at the end of December because I was sick with a cold and missed all three nights. I avoided the theatre for the sake of the other audience members who would not have wanted to have me sneezing and snuffling near them!)

After being inspired by the PBN pieces, I went on to apply for Show in a Bag and was delighted to make it to the interview stage, though not on the actual stage!

In September I had the glorious experience that was dancing naked with Trilogy! (And there are still many people stumbling on this blog while searching for “naked dancing”!) I had a wonderful week of rehearsals and performances with a fantastic group of women, who I am lucky enough to still be in touch with! I loved every minute of it. I learnt that being naked on-stage is not that scary and it reaffirmed everything I love about theatre. I was so proud and grateful to be a part of it.

In October, I devoted a lot of time to the Dublin Theatre Festival. With apprehension I went along to the Ontroerend Goed trilogy (I loved The Smile Off Your Face, didn’t really like Internal – I felt a bit let down by it and I found the The Game of You really interesting and enjoyable but not very theatrical. All three were interesting in their own way though.) I had my brain turned inside out by The Author, enjoyed Enron, Circa, The Silver Tassie and John Gabriel Borkman. I also really enjoyed Playing the Dane which was full of interesting twists and had a great cast. I saw a lot of really wonderful theatre in September and October and I’m already looking forward to the 2011 festivals.

I did a few other theatre-type things this year. I volunteered for the Fringe Festival, the Dublin Theatre Festival and thisispopbaby‘s Queer Notions. I did some voice and acting classes with Actor Training Ireland. I went to auditions and castings for plays, short films and ads. I read plays and about people writing plays. I saw a lot of great theatre and vowed many times to make something that was that moving or funny or clever or just plain wonderful.

All in all, 2010 was a very enjoyable year.

Highlight of the Year: I think it has to be Trilogy. I can’t even pick out one moment that really stands out as a high because it was the whole experience that meant so much to me. If I had to choose, it would be finally seeing the full performance for the first time and being so moved by it, and so proud to be a small part of it. It reminded me why I love theatre, it reminded me how powerful theatre can be and really renewed my desire to make theatre.

Lows: I really enjoyed the playwriting courses at the beginning of the year and I regret not doing more writing after the courses ended. I also went to a lot of auditions that led to nothing and that was a bit of a low.

Resolutions: This year I would like to be more successful at auditions. I also want to stop waiting for someone to cast me and start making things myself. I want to try my hand at playwriting again.

I also intend to keep seeing more great theatre and hopefully writing about it here but mostly I want to make creating art a bigger part of my life. That’s my big resolution for 2011!