Project Brand New 4 – Day 2

I thought Friday night would be a quiter than Thursday because it was a Friday, and also because U2 were playing in Croke Park and half the people in the city seemed to be going to see them. I was wrong and the theatre quickly filled up just before half seven. I kept seeing people I recognised in the audience then realising that it wasn’t that I knew them, I’d just seen them on stage recently.

The first piece of the night was called Players at the Hooley!. It was a piece from an Active Retirement group and it was about the lives of older people and what people think about getting older and specifically their own ageing. It was a really simple piece with no agenda behind it and I like that. It consisted of talking heads of different ages answering questions about how they would look, feel, spend their time, etc when they were old, not any specific age, just old. And then the members of the active retirement group – the older people themselves – told stories from their own lives. I liked that the performers didn’t pretend to be something they weren’t, they just told their stories directly to the the audience. There were two couples, both married 40+ years, teasing each other and enjoying sharing this experience with the other. I love when you see that on stage – performers obviously enjoying themselves.

They also had the brilliant idea of passing sweets around the audiene so you were surround by the sound of crinkling paper as everyone opened their sweets. The sweets were hard-toffees – the type older people generally avoid because they’re not great for the old teeth – I don’t know if this was on purpose and was supposed to mean something or if they were just noisy sweets!

The second piece, The Flamboyant Bird was a solo piece that was described in the programme as “a 15 minute extract, which occurs 1/3 the way into a full-length solo piece called The Flamboyant Bird.” The actor performing it was very talented and did a good job but being allowed to see a small part of the story meant it sort of left me cold. I don’t know if I would have felt differently if I didn’t know it was a chunk from the middle of a longer piece and had been left to judge it on it’s own merits. It might have worked better that way. I didn’t hate it but it didn’t really make me feel a whole lot for the characters or their plight.

The third piece of the night was called Captive. It was a piece that had been performed at Project Brand New before, and the performers had been asked back to perform again. I didn’t see it the first time but listening to others talk about it, it hasn’t changed much since then. The programme notes describe it as ‘A performance with talking and some music bits.’ I liked the music bit welll enough but could have done with out the talking, which was most of the time just a guy behind a microphone. Towards the middle the music made me feel really depressed and paranoid. I don’t know if that was the intended effect or not. The name of the piece was apt, I felt trapped listening to this awfulness and just wanted to end.

The final piece was a bit strange. It was called SilentCity and was presented by Dey Sed who describe themselves as a multimedia collective. It was a strange sort of dreamscape of a performance, with a strange narrartive structure loosely wound around it. I liked it. It was dream-like because because it didn’t make a lot of sense, it didn’t have a beginning, middle and an end and if it did, they were all jumbled up, but there were nice images on stage and weird and interesting ideas in the piece. It reminded me of a piece I saw in the Fringe last year called I’m So Close It’s Not Even Funny which had the same sort of dream-like quality to it.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy the Friday night as much I’d enjoyed Thursdays. But the whole set up of Project Brand New means that you are not going to like everything and I think it’s important to see work I actively dislike sometimes. It makes me think about the sort of work I don’t want to make, which can lead me to the type of work I do want to create.

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Project Brand New 4 – Day 1

Going along to Project Brand New reminds me a lot of performance days at Brunel. These happened at the end of term when our modules finished and every group had to show their work. They both involve seeing lots of short pieces in a short space of time, all the pieces are brand new and often being seen by an audience for the first time. I would be fairly certain that I would not like all of it, but it would different and exciting. I love going to PBN because my brain feels so full of ideas by the end of the night. New ideas and new ways of doing and looking at things.

This is the first time that I actually have tickets to all three nights and I’m looking forward to being inspired and mentally stimulated for three nights in a row!

Last night the theatre was already packed when I got there and full of excited people looking forward to the night ahead. Finally the lights went down and the show began!

The first piece was called Blooming Great and it was about the life cycle of a flower. It was wonderful! The only dialogue came from a voice-over that sounded almost like a biology text book. Everything came from the actors’ phyiscallity and facial expressions. This meant it was very visual and really beautiful! The interaction between the Flower and the Bee was very sweet and funny. The Flower had such wonderful facial expressions and even though the piece was only about 15 minutes long, it was really quite emotional. I loved it!

The second piece was Storybook and for me it was the piece that felt most finished and polished. That’s not a critisim. I only mention it because Project Brand New is often billed as being works-in-progress or artist’s experimentation, but this didn’t feel like that. It still felt fresh and new and different, but at a very high standard. It involved a light projector (those projectors that lecturer use with acetate slides) which I loved because I also think they are great and have always wanted to use one in a performance! And concluded with short pieces of text from novels, which we actually tried as an ending for our dissertation piece. It worked a lot better in this piece which was simple and engaging.

The third piece was a dance piece called A Still Return. I thought this was interesting and a lot of the movement was very beatiful but it didn’t do a great deal for me. I don’t think I know enough about dance to critque it. It is described in the programme as a ‘meditative solo’ and I agree with that. It made me feel peaceful, while also wishing that my body could move like that!

The final piece was called Jesus has my Mom in there and has beat her up real bad. This was one that really felt like a work-in-progress, probably because it was a first look at a show that Loose Canon Theatre Company are preparing for the autumn. It was interesting and a bit chaotic but had some nice moments. It felt like a rough draft but one that made me interested to see the finished product.

Blooming Great was my favourite piece of the night and it could have gone on for twice as long and I think I still would have loved it.

I’m heading back for another batch of brand new theatre tonight and looking forward to it!