Monthly Archives: October 2017

What can we do about the Weinstein scandal?

COMMENT: There are a lot of things we can do to try to stop sexual predators in film and theatre. We should not let it turn into weirdo-bashing.

So, it looks like we a Jimmy Savile Mark II on our hands. One news story on reports of sexual assault by a powerful public figure have snowballed into a vast number of stories, both of the original person and other people in similar professions. Before we go any further, it is important to do this properly: as it stands, all of these reports are at allegation stage. Harvey Weinstein denies them, and we have yet to see what emerges in the legal process. However, based on the evidence that’s emerged so far (and also his own flimsy response) it’s not looking good. And even if it does somehow turn out that Weinstein is telling the truth and all these sexual acts were consensual, that is still a massive abuse of a position of power.

Naturally there has been a lot of reaction to this. And, of course, the conversation has spread to theatre. Some responses inside and outside theatre, sadly, are opportunistic rhetoric to use the scandals to push pre-existing agendas. However, on the whole, the discussion in UK theatre has been pretty, and an event held at The Royal Court appears to have handled the matter well. Continue reading

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Don’t Go Outside: the unknown enemy

Not the most original plot, but Don’t Go Outside consolidates Twenty Seven Productions’ status as Newcastle leaders in site-specific theatre.

Ever since Alphabetti Theatre set up in 2015, it’s provided a base for a lot of small groups in Newcastle. However, one notable exception to this rule is Twenty Seven Productions. Whilst most groups have been jostling for coveted slots in Alphabetti’s programme, Twenty Seven are making a name for themselves with site-specific pieces. They have been in the Victoria Tunnel and the Tyne Theatre, but their most successful play is surely Wytch at Newcastle Castle, the site of the 1650 witch trials that this play recreates. One year later and they are back, but this time, the castle is refuge in an apocalyptic nightmare.

Two men bring in an unconscious woman into the Great Hall. We know very little about them, and when she comes round, we don’t learn that much about her either. What we do know is that something very bad is going on outside, with shouting and helicopters and explosions being heard. Prior to the play, we catch snatches of radio broadcasts about some sort of virus leading to some sort of violence, and somehow this has escalated into an emergency and an evacuation of the city that all three missed. The castle is their latest refuge – St. James’s Park has already been blown up in the fighting. No-one can be trusted to be be let in. The good news is that one of the men, James, has taken the lead and seems to know what he’s doing to hold out and survive. The bad news is that that he turns out to be insane. Continue reading

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Roundup: Buxton Fringe 2017

Rotunda and Old Clubhouse

REVIEWS: Skip to And the Rope Still Tugging Her Feet, Call Mr. Robeson, Bouncers, We Lost Elijah, The Empress and Me, Vincent River, Persuasion Transposed, Labels.

Ah well, better late than never. At least I can get this out before the registrations open for Buxton Fringe 2018. Apologies for everyone waiting for a review. Usual excuse applies over my ridiculously busy summer. I have learnt my lesson.

So, I’ll leap into reviews in a moment, but before that, a few thoughts on how the fringe went as a whole. This was the most unpredictable fringe for years, firstly due to the delayed but expected loss of Pauper’s Pit and the Barrel Room, and the second unexpected twisted: the arrival of the 110-seat Rotunda. In my preview of Buxton Fringe, I had a look at the changing face of the fringe, looking at who was going to which venues. The headline is that in spite of the loss of a major performing space, the fringe has grown, through a mixture of the arrival of the Rotunda, smaller non-managed venues being stretched to the limit, and the shrinkage at Underground Venues mitigated with some very tight programming. I won’t repeat the details, all that remains is a postscript of how the two major venues fared. Continue reading

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Odds and sods: September 2017

Been a while since I’ve done an odds and sods, what with Edinburgh and Brighton coverage keeping me busy over most of the summer. Last one was June, which now seems to be a distant memory. As usual, not a lot happens in September, with most of the performing arts world in hibernation at the Edinburgh Fringe. But a few things have been happening, and there’s also some post-fringe fallout from some of the more, ahem, “interesting” discussions.

Things that happened in September:

Ladybirdgate Mark II

Greedy lawyers. Relevance to story unknown.

This is actually an event that happened in the run-up to the Edinburgh Fringe rather than after that I somehow missed in spite of it registering on Fringepig’s radar. But it’s on the subject of corporate censorship, a close third of the things I loathe in the arts, after religious censorship and political censorship. According to Fringepig (and proper websites too). One play showing at Edinburgh was Four Go Off on One, a Famous Five parody, and if you’re wondering why they didn’t use the less confusing title of Five Go Off on One, it’s because they got legal threats from Hachette Book Group. Amarous Prawn offered a compromise to rename themselves to The Reasonably Well Known Five: An Unofficial, Unlicensed and Unrestrained Parody. Hachette wouldn’t have it because, to borrow the observation of Fringepig, they seem to think they have exclusive worldwide rights to the number five. Continue reading

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