Dance/theatre review – “Ahnen” (Pina Bausch) Tanztheater Wuppertal at Sadler’s Wells

April 24th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

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It’s not possible to really explain what happens in this performance, it makes more sense as a list.

One body becomes two

Two bodies become one

Brick walls are built

Water falls on tarpaulin

A man jumps through a hoop into a wall (repeatedly)

A fully clothed woman lies in a perspex bath full of water

A lady climbs a ladder and gives painting instructions

A blind woman fires a gun

There’s a remote control helicopter (might be a reference to Vietnam?)

Someone is buried under hay

A women relentlessly polishes some sort of white chopping board

Bits of food are placed around the stage

A man dressed as a sort of hobo-native american chief sits at a microphone but doesn’t use it

And so on and so forth…

I liked this. There is no narrative that I can grasp, but the show is full of little pleasing bits and pieces. The music throughout is great; varied, interesting and well used. The first half is pretty frantic, lots of arm movements and running across stage, there’s a lot of running when a wind machine blows paper across the stage. The second half is quieter, slower and has more spoken elements and ‘conventional’ dancing. For me, its just a bit too long. It starts to become tiring and uncomfortable (maybe that’s the point! etc) and personally I wouldn’t mind a wee bit of narrative.

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Photo by Tristram Kenton (Guardian)

Generally it appears to celebrate everyday movements, moments and props. Lots of things happen at the same time, so you can choose what to devote attention to. It is farcical and slapstick and absurd, though at times I thought it wasn’t funny enough (it’s no House of Fools) but as I was thinking this, the funniest bit happened. A man and woman take turns to mime acts of cartoon violence on each other, and its funny. I’m guessing they are a couple of long-standing and long-endured irritation. There did seem to be a lot of what I will call ‘over-laughter’ from the audience “ oh ha ha ha, that is sooo funny, a woman flashed her pants”. There was another good bit where a man translates a famous operatic tune (? I think…) from German to English.

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Photo by Ursula Kaufmann

I liked the intro when a guy in leather jacket, ray bans and a kilt brought on some of the ‘characters’ to the stage with a satisfying strut. For me, some of the best bits were just the highlighting of movements that can occur everyday. The way the kilt swayed as the man swaggered. There was a point when a mid-50’s (?) woman in tight skirt and high heels ran round in a circle on the stage and I noticed the way her body was constricted, the way she had to totter on the heels to turn a corner, all of these little details are only ever possible if a mid-50’s woman in high heels, with large hips and a tight skirt runs in a circle. As pure movement it is satisfying and precarious.

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Photo: Ursula Kaufmann

There are three moments of intimacy that I liked, one where a seated man has one hand stuck out in the air (“like an Egyptian”) and a woman approaches slowly, bends slightly, then quickly sucks his hand. A woman dusted a chair with a fur jacket thing. A man breathes into his slow-dance partner’s ear.

Generally, there was a feeling of childishness, repetition, aimlessness and movement for its own sake. There was also quite a lot of female anger and male impotence/uselessness.

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Photo by Tristram Kenton (Guardian)

As the piece seemed to be nearing an end, the fire curtain came down on stage and made everything feel slightly claustrophobic. The kilt man came on and hung from a metal bar acting like a monkey, eating apples and spitting them out. Then another guy came on with a big rubber walrus. He tried to make it climb a cactus (the stage is strewn in huge cacti), then proceeded to climb into the walrus suit thing. Once inside he told two terrible jokes and clapped his flippers together. He got out, and looked at the fire curtain. He looked a bit bewildered. Two men joined the stage and started sweeping. The walrus guy didn’t know what to do. We thought this was part of the show. He left the stage, then came back on and said “the curtain is meant to go up, I don’t know what’s wrong”. We still thought it was part of the show. He came back and said “no, really, the curtain should go up, I’m sorry we will have to break for 20 minutes”. It should really have been the end, regardless. So, we left at that point, it seemed appropriate. Left on stage were two cacti and a rubber walrus. We didn’t get the chance to give them a round of applause, but it was a satisfyingly ridiculous ending nonetheless. Here is my round of applause.

Reading the Bible – Ep.5 – Sodom & Sarah

April 17th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

In Genesis 18, the Lord appeared to Abraham, and after Abraham got some food together, the Lord said that Sarah would have a son, despite her age:

“And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.

Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

Therefore Sarah laughed within herself saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”

The Lord is not keen on Sarah laughing inwardly at this. She lies and says she wasn’t laughing. But she was. The Lord then walks with Abraham, and tells him that the sins of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are ‘very grevious’ but the sins aren’t explained. Abraham then manages to convince the Lord not to be too angry if there are some people in the city who are not righteous.

In Genesis 19, the Lord sends two angels to speak to Lot (Abraham’s nephew) who lives in Sodom. At this point it gets a little vague, but there is an association between Sodom and ‘sodomy’, so its easy to jump to conclusions. The men of the city surround Lot’s house and demand to see the two men (angels) ‘that we may know them’… Lot asks them to ‘do not so wickedly’ and tells them to take his own two virgin daughters instead of the male visitors – ‘do ye to them as is good in your eyes’.

The angels stand up for themselves, and blind the men of Sodom, then decide to destroy the city ‘because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD’

Lot, his wife and his daughters (mercifully) are told to leave the city quick, before it’s destroyed, but ‘look not behind thee’. So they skedaddle, but as the ‘LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven’ Lot’s wife carelessly turns around to watch and ‘she became a pillar of salt’.

Lot then has to escape to a cave with only his daughters for company (more of that later).

CONCLUSIONS

1. The LORD is aware of your thoughts, and I have a feeling he might have something in for Sarah. But, he is promising her a son, despite her having gone through menopause.

2. Sodom & Gomorrah’s sins are bad, as it seems they like to ‘know’ men, and that’s bad. But giving your daughters to them to do what they want is not such a bad sin.

3. The phrase is ‘brimstone and fire’ not ‘fire and brimstone’

4. It might seem pedantic, but how do they know Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt without looking round themselves? Did they realise she was gone, return at a later date, see the pillar of salt and say “that must be her”? Or is the disappearance of the wife into a pillar of salt symbolic for something that I’ve missed? Does she see God? Does she want to hang out with the bad men of Sodom?

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“Lot’s Wife” pillar at Mount Sodom, Israel – does kind of look like a woman in a flowing dress.

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Destruction of Sodom, Monreale Cathedral, Sicily (12th century?)

 

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Destruction of Sodom, Nuremberg Chronicle

Lot’s wife seems to be smiling at Sodom in her pillar-state. I like the topping over of the buildings by a top corner cloud blow.

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“The Destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah” John Martin (1852)

This is satisfyingly over the top, and I like that Lot’s wife is struck by salt-lightning. There is drama and pomposity here.

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“Lot Fleeing with his daughters from Sodom” Albrecht Durer (1498)

One daughter looks bored, she must be teenage. The other has some sort of spinning thing and some keys and a wee box. Lot appears to have a hot water bottle on his back. There is not a lot of drama, or pomposity here.

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“Lot and his Daughters” Lucas van Leyden (1520)

Durer drew a portrait of van Leyden, I guess they were friends. This painting combines the destruction and the following episode of Lot and his daughters in the cave. Wine is flowing, cuddling is happening…..

 

Valentino spring/summer 2015

April 16th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

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