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Tag Archive | "Southbank Centre"

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Review: The Events, Southbank Centre

Posted on 07 April 2014 by Laura Peatman

The EventsDavid Greig’s The Events garnered plenty of attention and acclaim when it premièred in Edinburgh in 2013, winning a Scotsman Fringe First Award. Exploring the aftermath of a mass shooting in a quiet town, the piece is directly inspired by events in Utøya, Norway and promises to be “daring”, “provocative” and “destructive”. Yet this scaled-up production for Southbank Centre’s Chorus festival has become a show in disarray that has lost sight of its dramatic purpose.

The Events focuses on Claire, choir master and ultra-modern vicar (her female partner, Katrina, builds yurts for a living…) who struggles to find answers after an unnamed ‘Boy’ interrupts her choir rehearsal and shoots several members dead, with no apparent motive. The performance in the Queen Elizabeth Hall comprises 19 choirs from London and further afield, and I don’t want to knock their involvement – I’m sure it was a fantastic experience for all concerned, and the objective of bringing together a community of singers is commendable. Yet it has a disastrous effect on staging, robbing the show of its intensity and focus. With the rustling of song sheets, slow scene transitions, and creaking stage as the huge choir found their seats, you could almost be sitting through a school concert. At various points throughout the show, members of the choir are called upon to deliver lines, a directorial decision by Ramin Gray that sadly misfires as Greig’s potentially powerful words are lost in the inexperience and poor delivery of those who, in their defence, are not actors at all.

It’s a shame, because underneath the muddle that this production has become, there is clearly some good work happening. Amanda Drew (Claire) is on strong form, giving a convincing performance of a woman desperate to find meaning in an apparently meaningless atrocity. Clifford Samuel is also impressive, shifting adeptly between his role as ‘The Boy’ and the other characters along Claire’s search for the truth – an old friend of the perpetrator, his father, Claire’s psychiatrist, her partner Katrina – with ease and skilfully delicate characterisation. There are flashes of humour, while certain scenes carry the promise of something gripping, most notably the eventual meeting between Claire and The Boy in prison. Yet by the time we reach this, the dulling confusion of the previous 100 minutes has worn us down. A potentially intriguing debate about race and racism is another highlight, but once again struggles to stand out in a show whose structure undermines its own explorations. Other scenes teeter on the brink between provocative and pretentious, making the audience work hard to comprehend all that is being presented to us – no bad thing in itself, but in a piece so knotty and confused, this does not help the problem.

The concept of the play in involving live choral music has bags of promise; yet this implementation of it brings disappointment as disorganised staging, confused structure and some quite frankly bizarre moments smother any emotional intensity that could shed light on the struggle for answers in the face of apparently random acts of violence. A wonderful event to participate in, perhaps, but ultimately dissatisfying for its audience.

The Events played at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre on 5 April. For more information about the Chorus festival, see the Southbank Centre website.

Laura Peatman

Laura Peatman

Laura is an English graduate, tea drinker and blogger. After spending three years studying and reviewing theatre at Cambridge University, she now runs marketing for an HE dance college and spends as much time as humanly possible at the theatre.

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Competition: Win tickets to Nirbhaya at Southbank Centre

Posted on 06 March 2014 by A Younger Theatre

When Nirbhaya premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year we were moved to tears by this powerful piece of theatre. Nirbhaya was breathtaking wrote our reviewer, and now we have a ticket competition to win tickets when it comes to the Southbank Centre next month.

Nirbhaya
WIN TICKETS
Nirbhaya at Southbank Centre
5 – 12 March

A dramatic performance based upon a true incident and the life events of the performers.

On the night of December 16 2012 a young woman and her male friend boarded a bus in urban Delhi heading for home. What followed changed the lives of these two people and countless others forever.

Internationally acclaimed playwright and director Yael Farber creates a searing new work that cracks open the silence around women whose lives have been shattered by gender-based violence.

With an extraordinary cast and creative team from India, Farber brings us a blistering evocation of that terrible night and the ripples of change it set in motion. Tearing away the shame that keeps the survivors silent NIRBHAYA is a voyage into a tapestry of personal testimonies that speaks for both a nation and a world no longer able to hold the tides of change at bay.

‘One of the most powerful and urgent pieces of human rights theatre ever made’ (The Herald)

‘Shatters the shame culture of silence that surrounds sexual violence against women.’ (Evening Standard)

 

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Competition closes Thursday 6 March, 4pm. Winners’ tickets are valid for the performance on Saturday 8 March at 2pm. By entering this competition you agree to be added to the A Younger Theatre mailing list.

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre (AYT) is a platform for young people to express their views on theatre and performance. The site is maintained, edited and published by under 26 year olds who all have a passion for theatre.

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Feature: Spotlight on Nir Paldi – “I was just telling stories”

Posted on 10 February 2014 by Lauren Mooney

(c) Alex Brenner

(c) Alex Brenner

Meeting Nir Paldi upstairs at the Southbank Centre, I’m not entirely convinced I’m going to recognise him. After all, the last time I saw him, five months ago at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, he was buried in gold lamé to play Star, the abrasive drag queen at the centre of Ballad of the Burning Star.

Described as a drag cabaret musical about Israel, Ballad certainly didn’t lack ingenuity, and its unusual approach to one of the most controversial, emotive subjects of the last century won plaudits for Theatre Ad Infinitum, the daring company behind it. First and foremost a success in its own right, Ballad was also seen as a startlingly different follow-up to the company’s previous show, Translunar Paradise, a delicate, wordless exploration of grief. “We want to keep surprising our audiences,” Paldi confirms. “So they’ll think – they are doing this?!”

Unusually, the company has two artistic directors, Paldi himself and George Mann, who take it in turns to lead on their shows. Mann wrote, directed and starred in Translunar, and Paldi did the same for Ballad. “We’re very different, George and I, very different with what we want to make,” Paldi tells me. But he’s keen to underline that “each time, although one of us takes the lead on a production, we are very much involved with both – so it’s not different companies, it’s the same company. In a sense it’s not a separate creation, even if I’m leading it and it was born from my vision, or vice versa, it’s both of our creations.”

In conversation and outside the gold lamé, Paldi is a disarming figure: he has the quiet thoughtfulness of an academic, which gives way suddenly to moments of theatricality. Whenever he assists a story by slipping into Star’s voice or mannerisms, it makes me do a double-take.

Paldi is Israeli himself, though with the international outlook typical of a Lecoq graduate (Mann was in the year above him), and he had long wanted to tackle the subject of his homeland. “I had so much pain growing up and so much hopelessness,” he says, without a hint of self-pity in so saying. Perhaps the lack of a self-dramatising streak is unsurprising: Israel, Paldi tells me, is a place where “death is talked about very openly” and the military service, violence and loss experienced by Ballad’s central character were chosen for being indicative of the “simple, classic” experiences of his peers. “These are the things that we grow up with as Israelis,” he says, “just like… I wouldn’t say it’s less special, but it’s – it’s like eating fish and chips. It’s something that happens to you.”

Beginning work on the show that was to become Ballad of the Burning Star, Paldi and Mann shut themselves a way for several weeks. While Mann watched, Paldi stood alone on stage and talked: “I was just telling stories and it was an extremely emotional process, talking about history – things that had happened in Israel during my lifetime or before it – and explaining all the different contexts for everything so it made sense to someone else. Sometimes I would stand there, literally just stand there, and George would be like: start! Do something, move, talk… But I was just frozen, in tears.”

Surprising, then, that the show they ended up with is, for the most part, so boisterous and energetic. Paldi quickly realised he needed to move away from his own experiences, motivated partly by the need to throw off the restrictions of doing an autobiographical show and partly by the concern that “maybe my life isn’t interesting enough!” The urge to free himself of his own history and even his own opinions is how “little by little, Star started coming into mind, this character that was absolutely free to say whatever the fuck she wants and if you were offended she’d say, ‘Aw, that’s really sad that you’re offended, but I still think that’… Which is obviously slightly superficial, but it’s the repression, not the pain that is bubbling underneath.”

If the leap from straight storytelling to drag cabaret seems unexpected, there’s method in the madness. In his view, Paldi tells me, Ballad “is about boundaries… a man in drag is an interesting way of making people think about boundaries: is it a man or a woman?” He’s also surrounded Star with an all-female dance cabaret troupe, the Starlets: “casting the troupe, the soldiers, as female, I was playing with that – and emphasising the fact that I am a man in a dress and not a woman by having five very feminine performers on stage.”

Aided and abetted by the Starlets – “They’re trying to rebel, she’s oppressing even harder, she’s manipulating them against each other, performing for the audience as if they are the other countries of the world judging us, who’s right and who’s wrong…” – we are told the story of a little boy called Israel, growing up in the country that shares his name. There are layers of narrative complexity in here, with Paldi playing Star, who is herself playing the young boy, while the other performers multi-role as Israel’s family and classmates. Still, in spite of the huge amount of thought the creative team have put into tackling this contentious subject, it was inevitable that there would be some controversy.

During one Edinburgh Fringe performance, an audience member grabbed the back of Paldi’s dress and began vocally protesting against a statement that he had, in fact, misheard. Paldi was able to use Star to get out of it (“Is that right sweetheart? I’d love to hear more of your thoughts but I have a show to get on with…”), but after they finished the performance, Mann came to his dressing room and asked if he was okay.

“I was like, ‘yeah I’m fine, what do you mean?’ Because I thought I’d handled the dress-grabbing quite well. He said, ‘Did you hear what he just shouted?’” During the curtain call, it emerged, the audience member, “had stood up and shouted, ‘This was one-sided, it was propaganda, I just want to tell you,’ and somebody else said, ‘No mate, it was a piece of theatre, so sit down’.”

In spite of an overwhelmingly positive response to the show, there were still, Paldi tells me, quite a few such “intense reactions”. Though concerned about being seen to brush people’s responses aside, he nonetheless maintains, “if we’d wanted to have a debate, I could’ve phoned people and said, ‘let’s talk’ – but actually I took years to construct this thing, to communicate something very specific. So that’s why I had to stop it.” And is he worried about more of the same when he takes the show on tour this year? Luckily, with Star around, he doesn’t need to be: for all her flaws, “She protects us – me and the audience.”

Ballad of the Burning Star is currently on tour, including a three-week run at Battersea Arts Centre 17 Feb – 8 March. For more information, visit Theatre Ad Infinitum’s website.

Lauren Mooney

Lauren Mooney

Lauren graduated with an English degree from the University of Liverpool before moving to London. Aside from reviewing for AYT and her day job at Free Word, she also writes for Exeunt and TheatreGuide London, and helps make the London Horror Festival happen.

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Ticket Offer: £15 tickets to see LODHO at the Southbank Centre

Posted on 23 June 2013 by A Younger Theatre

We are lovin’ the Southbank Centre at the moment; as well as our £15 offer to see Timber!, we are giving you the chance to get £15 tickets on best available seats to see LODHO perform songs by Tom Waits too. See below for more information about the performance and then scroll down to see how to claim the offer.

LODHO_resized

LODHO
Performs Tom Waits
Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall

Quebec City’s L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres present a wholly unique take on the music of one of America’s best-known troubadours – Tom Waits.

Armed with Waits’ colourful repertoire and mixing elements of cabaret, comedy and circus, this bustling orchestra offer an event that is more of a carnival environment than a straightforward gig.

southbankcentre.co.uk

Claim the offer
To celebrate these unique performances, AYT readers can get best available tickets for £15 for the first three shows. To book, quote ‘YOUNGER’ before 1 July when booking online at southbankcentre.co.uk by phone on 0844 847 9910 or in person at the box office.

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre

A Younger Theatre (AYT) is a platform for young people to express their views on theatre and performance. The site is maintained, edited and published by under 26 year olds who all have a passion for theatre.

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