Friday, February 22, 2008

Stage Directions


Over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen a fair amount of theatre, and one thing I’ve began to distinguish is how some plays have small moments of action that seem relatively pointless & very hard to successfully direct. For example some moments involve certain characters walking across the stage as they are being spoken about by the characters in the forefront of the action. Every time I see this movement, it never quite seems to work. The actor wandering across stage always looks quite random & somewhat loose & non integral to the action. It can often be a distraction to the audience, and comes across as a lazy tool to introduce & affirm a particular characters name.

The Lyrics’ current performance of Brecht’s ‘Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’ does just this all too often. Apart from being dramatically transferred from 1940’s Chicago to somewhere in Africa, the performance often felt clumsy, squeezing 20+ characters into 8 actors. Perhaps Brecht’s fascination with Shakespeare was the determining factor in his generosity when writing roles. Another recent Lyric play was the complete opposite in this respect. An adaptation of Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ turned the stage into a two storey house filled with a wealth of props for the characters to use that didn’t make their presence on stage a pointless affair. The resultant, a far more tight & engrossing performance.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Televison, don't go to my head

Sometimes I forget how many questions I have. At the end of speeches, conferences & talks, the simple & necessary, ‘does anyone have any questions’ yarn is asked, but still I keep ‘schum’. I’m going to suggest that this is merely a product of a lack of confidence, or a matter-of-fact revelation that I have no questions worth asking. But some may suggest it’s a gradual learning from the surroundings urging a passivity that no one really realises until the moment has passed. The questions I have stored in my head address this point. The moving pictures of the early 20th century have sewn their teachings through to the modern day, and literally have us at gun point. If we move, we’ll miss it. If we miss it, we can’t talk about it. 'It', is, 'it'. Or rather the subject of programme scheduling is key to owning conversation.

Many great things can be learnt from television. In 2004’s ‘Oldboy’ Oh Dae-Su gathers a wealth of knowledge from 15 years subjection to the box. His circumstances are rather passive themselves, being locked up in a room and left to sieve through their memories for fifteen years is enough to make anyone worship the mighty release-from-mundanity TV.

But the questions still remain. Oh Dae-Su is released bursting full of queries, without a passive inch in his body. So rather than looking at society’s inventions as subjugating the masses, they postpone action, or, to look at it from a different angle, perhaps create action. We learn how to build & burn bridges from forms of dictation. We learn what is right & wrong on a basic level, but we also learn with what we identify. These tools can help us shape the people we are.

In Oh Dae-Su’s case, he uses his imprisonment to train his body & mind into finding the reason for his incarceration. To look at this away from the stories main plotline of revenge, is to see that this great metaphor describes our own individual struggles, the struggle to actually release ourselves from passivity and do what we want to do. However this route can be lined with danger, as escape’s guise is not what we think or may like it to be, and in Oh Dae-Su’s case his path is the direct product of his captivity, a position he, arguably, had no control over.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Open 24 hours

Busy times have recently fallen on the surgery. This GP was out snapping central London on Sunday, on what appeared to be one of the busiest days in the city. In South Kensington we had the opening of the London Fashion Week, all over the West End Chinese New Year celebrations where going off with a bang, and in Covent Garden the red carpet was rolled out for the Baftas.

Head over to Rashbre for more! (Click here to view)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Survey says...

There’s always a recent study that’s been conducted somewhere by a panel of independent panelists. For instance, everyday BBC Breakfast is filled with new information on what causes this & that, heart disease & obesity. Or what we think of the post office or a change in length of the school day, or even a little humour like what we think of selleotape (ok the last one was lie).

Well the latest study I’ve read about sheds some interesting light on the concentration of subcultures throughout the UK. Through compiling sales figures from HMV branches, ‘musos’ over at Uncut magazine have conducted a study into the musical tastes of different regions across the UK. They’ve learnt that Goth & heavy metal music is most popular in Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield & Nottingham, where as Hip-Hop & Grime are major flavours of London.

So does this reflect fashion tastes & identity? In other words does this mean that every other person in these northern cities is dressed in black to the max? Or perhaps the reason there’s so many rival gangs in London is because of the popularity of Hip-Hop & Grime, and its street life themes?

I’m not one who likes to base wild accusations of identity on music taste, but this does provide some interesting findings into how two exemplars of popular culture merge, as well as demonstrating a location’s social history.

One of the study’s most interesting findings is that people in the north listen to more beats per minute than in the south. So does this mean southerners are all downbeat & reflective?

We do like to create information, don’t we?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Two Peg Warning


I found myself a cross between ‘Aliens’ & ‘A Clockwork Orange’ last night. The toilets were a pristine cluster of gender coloured giant eggs atop a white dome. With a lamp made of children’s toys & a Dalmatian throwing up in a bin, you could say the venue I was in was a little ‘unusual’.

It was Sketch, a contemporary London restaurant & bar on Conduit Street and I was there for free booze, canap├ęs and to hear what Miles Beckett, multi job title extraordinaire & co-creator of Lonleygirl15 & Kate Modern, had to say about secret societies & online movie making.

Interestingly Beckett started life as a plastic surgeon before recognising the first wave of bogging as an opportunity to do something different, and create a video dairy about the trials & tribulations of a young American teenager called Bree. Amid all the buzz around lonleygirl and the endless discussions between bloggers about its authenticity, the public started to catch on that the real questionable factor was that it actually had a coherent plotline. After a media storm leading to the show finally being revealed as fiction, the plot took a more dramatic turn and followed the explosive story of Bree’s family’s involvement in a secret religious society.

With this in mind it’s obvious to see where recent blockbusters such as Cloverfield have got their ideas from, what with all manner of web 2.0 trails & virals that string individuals through endless marketing storytelling all over the net today!

However the night reminded me of the secret society based documentary ‘Wolves Live Here’ I saw a while ago. It told the story of a Lancaster based activist group who avenged the slaughter of wolves in the 10th century by King Edgar who allowed men to pay taxes in wolf heads. I remember the film gave the impression those who had filmed it, had not edited it, as suggested in the final scene whereby the film-makers find out they’ve been victims of constant surveillance as they stumble upon the remains of a grotesque ritual. The film is then dramatically cut short.

After a little bit of desk research the only site I could find relating to this ‘secret society’ was this msn group (Click here to view).

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A white room...


He told me how he bought plain white t-shirts at 30 cents each from Bangladesh and sold them at a 30% mark up. Didn’t say where though, and I had a feeling he was lying. He used to clean toilets in Miami, a long way from t-shirts I thought but still, he’d tell me how he never once complained about what he used to do. His suit looked as if he’d just found it in Bernardo’s. Pale blue shirt, too pale, too worn, washed out and beaten, and his yellow used-to-be silk tie rippled as he swung his story from left to right. He slurred when he spoke, and that made me uneasy so I said I had to use the toilet, he said he did to. So side by side along the urinal he told me about his cash flow forecasts, potential buyers, sellers and his new Barclays bank account, especially designed for his business needs. I just kept thinking of rain, sheets of the stuff, anything to picture a long flowing waterfall or running facet, overflowing sinks, puddles and ceiling leaks, and still, I had stage fright. I could smell his breath, taste his sweat attacking the air like a can of deodorant kills perspiration, I could even see the drops of piss he spilt on his shoes. After a quick comb of the hair and straighten of the tie, he told me he’d see me outside, relief. Outside though he was nowhere to be found, probably called into the meeting room. I leant against the pure white unmarked door I was yet to enter expecting to hear his dirty slur, but instead I heard nothing, not even a clock tick.

Clowning Around


Last night I went to a fancy dress party as a clown. This is how I started, but by the end of the evening I became a somewhat 'demonic' clown.

The Joker would be proud...