11 April 2007

Trying to get some work done. The work in question is fifteen or twenty pages of BIRDS, my bash at a musical version of the Aristophanes. So the pages will include some songs. Such a world away from The May Queen, which is no doubt a good thing. Occasionally my phone will buzz and I get a question from the rehearsal room. I'm trying (that word again) to set aside the tragic mode and write silly. Not so easy though. Unbidden these words came to me at the desk -

Beloved son
Share your wounds with me
I have always carried you in my heart
And looked after you.
Speak to your mother, make her happy
Though you are already leaving me, my cherished hope.

The death of Christ, the suffering of the Virgin - in 15th century lyrics set by Gorecki in his Symphony No.3 and then used to devastating effect by Robert Lepage in Lipsynch. It comes back to me now, part because the Virgin is central to my play, part because I visited the cathedral to see the statues draped in mourning purple on Easter Saturday, and part, no doubt and rather bathetically, because I just waved off my sons and their mother at Euston, they've gone up to Cumbria, to visit my mother.

Saw Attempts on Monday, off to The Caretaker at the Tricycle tonight, and Satyagraha (omg) on Friday.


Andrew (a West End Whinger) said...

Going head-to-head with another Stephen on a musical version of Frogs, eh? Can't wait!

But don't tease us with "Saw Attempts on Monday". And...?

sbs said...

Sorry to say you will have to wait, Andrew, BIRDS not flying till next spring, I think. I love a distant deadline.

Attempts - well I thought I'd given a clue by linking to Encore rather than, say, Whatsonstage... I was not as stunned as I might have been had I not seen WAVES. But that's a good thing. I was better able to enjoy the interplay between text and image, gesture and picture, than I would have been had I spent time just getting my head round the fact there was a giant screen mediating the 'story'. (If by some crazy accident Katie Mitchell reads this, I'm so sorry, you must be crap bored of people comparing the two productions.) What I thought the method brought to Martin Crimp's play, among many things, was a vivid sense of examination and disquisition, a forensic concentration, perfectly suited to a work that trains its gaze on the commodification of the person, the eeriness of the dead eye of the all-pervasive camera.
I came away feeling a little frustrated by the experience of watching - from the back row of the stalls - an assortment of backs of actors' heads, straining to catch a moment of direct unmediated communication. But this is of course the point, duh, I finally realise after chewing it over for a day or two (I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer). And what Mitchell has mined in the text and found a theatrical (or anti-theatrical) form for is exactly that sort of prescient, premonitory dismay at the growth of dislocation in modern culture.
I assume MC worked closely with KM on the shape and feel of the production, it'd be interesting to hear from him about it, the collaboration. Any refs, anyone?

That do you, A? ;)

Andrew (a West End Whinger) said...

Thank you, SBS.

Disquisition, commodification, premonitory - these are words we can only dream about squeezing into a review.

I guess it proves that those who can, write; those who can't, whinge.

Anyway, we hope that our review didn't unduly influence your experience.

Still can't wait for Birds. Phil has already started writing the review - spitting feathers, winged it to theatre, took flight etc. You've no idea how tiresome it all is.


sbs said...

Yeah sorry about the long words. The ghost of Tom Paulin at my shoulder, maybe. Incidentally you did influence the experience - thanks a bunch for the top tips. Loo beforehand, and though I'd bought a seat near the stage I shifted to one at the back.

Phil Porter said...

I co-directed a musical version of The Birds a few years ago in the studio at Birmingham Rep. It was a new version by Michael Punter, commissioned for the Rep Youth Theatre. It worked pretty well as I remember it - the anarchic humour seemed to go down well with the young audience and the wobbly voices of the adolescent boys only added to the silly charm of the whole thing. I'll look forward to it.

sbs said...

Cheers Phil, good to know that Aristophanic anarchy went down well in Brum. I'll have to come to the pub and find out more. Go Dolphinists!