Transform Season - Story Map, Book of Politics & The Tin Ring (Leeds)
11 June 2011 WOS Rating:
Story Map by Third Angel Situated in the bar and restaurant area of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Story Map’s Jorge Andrade, Alexander Kelly and Chris Thorpe battled to be heard over the Saturday afternoon chitchat and clinking of wine glasses. Having seen the stage play What I Heard About The World which had been constructed from the outcomes of an earlier Story Map performance I was excited to see the research process in action as the trio collected stories for each county on the theme of fakes, replicas and substitutes. A large, white rectangular backdrop was the canvas upon which their story world was denoted through post it note labels and marker pen drawings. Andrade read out the names of various countries – first in their native language, then in English – whilst Thorpe placed a post it note where he believed the country to be on the ‘map’. Members of the audience were asked if they knew any stories relating to each place. Unfortunately, during my observation of this piece, the participants (myself included) had no stories to contribute for the obscure countries that were suggested such as Djibouti in East Africa. However, a list of witty titles for previously explored stories was displayed behind the map. Newcomers to the performance were asked if they’d like to pick a story to be retold. Intriguing anecdotes were shared; for example, in Greenland, prisoners must continue with their normal jobs during their sentence, whilst residing in jail. However, no one including their colleagues is allowed to talk to them during this period. Story Map is a fascinating glimpse into creative process behind this cultural/geographical project; it was just a shame that I didn’t actually witness any contributions being made. The Book of Politics by The Red Room In the bar area of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, I spotted a piece of A4 paper hanging by string from the ceiling entitled The Book of Politics. Inside this area – cordoned off with white masking tape – was a photocopier, a camcorder and scattered copies of various broadsheet newspapers. I was invited inside the area by performer Jotham Annan, who presented me with a piece of plain A4 paper and a marker pen. He asked me to write down some questions and comments I’d like to present to David Cameron; I flippantly enquired as to whether I could swear. Having written a few points, I handed the sheet back to Annan who then made 2 colour photocopies of my sheet, handing the original back to me. He explained that a book comprising all the sheets of questions, images and comments from participants would be presented to the government. I left The Book of Politics slightly confused as to what the theatrical element of this experience was. Ten minutes later, whilst making a phone call outside the Playhouse, Annan came to ask me if I’d return to speak to Artistic Director Topher Campbell. I was then informed that I was the 100th person to have contributed to the book, and asked whether I’d mind being filmed. Before I could really consider my response, the camera was on and I was being asked about what I’d written. Still not really understanding what the project was about, I gave some honest answers about how I think the government cuts will affect vulnerable people in the UK, but I was quite confused, particularly at being asked how I felt to be the 100th participant; my answer of “honoured” may have sounded somewhat sarcastic. Having come away and researched The Book of Politics I am still not quite sure what is envisaged for the end product, and curious as to whether the theatrical element was simply that of the public participation. I am looking forward to seeing what becomes of this work-in-progress; I just hope for their sake that my rather dull interview is edited out.
The Tin Ring – A work in progress presentation by Jane Arnfield
Zdenka Fantlova’s novel The Tin Ring, this stage adaptation is still in the development phase; having this week been workshopped and presented as part of the Playhouse’s Transform season. Performed as a monologue by Jane Arnfield (who is adapting the book for the stage with Artistic Director Mike Alfreds), the piece begins with the character of Fantlova dancing and attempting to sing along to a song entitled My Lucky Star. It is revealed that is her love of this song that encouraged her to learn English; a language she would eventually use when she was rescued from the infamous German Bergen-Belson concentration camp in 1945 by an unidentified British Army soldier. Fantlova believes this man to be the “lucky star” to which the song refers. Both poignant and moving, Arnfield’s Fantlova is evocative in her description of feeling “ultimate relaxation” whilst in concentration camps; describing how she used radical acceptance as a self-preservation mechanism ensuring that she experienced the horrors of the holocaust as an observer rather than a sufferer. The monologue was slightly confusing at times, as Arnfield switched between the role of Fantlova and other contributing characters such as prison guards and Fantlova’s Mother. However, in most instances, Arnfield clarified the difference between characters through profound changes in accent, and physical movements to suggest where each character would stand. This half-hour snapshot of Fantlova’s story has left me desperate to know more. Once I had warmed to the style of the monologue delivery, I was hooked. My impatience has led me to order a copy of the novel, but I will also look forward to the completed stage version. - by Ruth Kilner Related Content Back to Northeast Homepage
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