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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Ravenhill’

So many things to go and see in just one Saturday

In the morning there was Cardenio Unwrapped (at the Swan) where Nicky Cox introduced the Assistant Director of Cardenio, Ben Brymor and the two understudy actors for the characters of Cardenio and Lucinda – Mike Grady-Hall and Maya Barcot. We were told, that in rehearsals, Greg Doran had initially asked all the cast the read the lines apart from their own. So by the time they learnt their own lines each actor knew the play and everyone else’s part – so to speak. This has created great harmony amongst the Ensemble and indeed I have been told by Nick Day a seasoned actor that it is the happiest Ensemble he has ever had the pleasure to work with in his many years in the business.

Ben really set the tone of the day by asking the actors to act with three different interpretations of an early scene in the play between the two characters and we were invited to determine which we thought was be the best option and how a different approach can give an audience a different view and indeed sympathy to the character. Here was a scene where Lucinda was rightly angry with her lover for his not yet informing his father of their relationship. Use of the Thrust stage and the audience intimacy was discussed and one of the interpretations where the actors spoke to the audience rather than to each other only made a big difference and sympathy was somewhat switched back to Cardenio. The question of how more advantageous the thrust stage and closeness of the audience to the stage had a bearing on a Soliloquy where here the actor would speak to the audience rather than himself. Mike presented a Soliloquy from Cardenio with panache.

Finally Maya and two dressers gave a Quick Dress change on stage. It was very brave of all three of them and extremely well done. As Ben said, Dressers are the unsung heroes of the theatre so well done ladies. Just makes one anxious to go and see this wonderful production again.

Cardenio is on until October 6th.

POPPY – The Mark Ravenhill weekend started with the first of two plays he was directing in the Swan Rooms at 2pm. The author Peter Nichols who also wrote the lyrics to the music and the award winning composer, Monty Norman, who wrote the music were present. Indeed Monty joined in one of the songs with great gusto.

This script-in-hand performance of the musical set during the Opium Wars (1840s) has won awards. An important element of the play is audience participation, which brings them closer not only to the play’s fantastic world, but also to the satire that follows later on – a critical look at corruption within our social, political and religious systems i.e. Civilization, Commerce and Christianity (they all belong together and they all begin with C). This was also a great song that stuck in one’s head but left a sweet and sour taste in our mouths.

It is a kind of adult pantomime, but dark and certainly an irreverent story. Marvellous reading by the actors- in particular Ciaron Kellgren, Sally Dexter and Jill Halfpenny. But all actors and musicians were outstanding. A fantastic way to spend the afternoon and it was good fun for everyone present. The cast certainly appeared to enjoy themselves.

FASHION – So back we went for more delight at 7pm for another script in hand play reading. Again this was curated by Mark Ravenhill and again we were privileged to have the author, Doug Lucie present.This play was premiered at The Other Place in 1987; sadly I did not see it because of my then nomadic life. Alan Armstrong and Brian Cox were in the original production. But you know this play could have been written yesterday; it was really proof of the fact that most people do not take heed of what goes on around them. Basically it is a satire about the world of political spin where an advertising boss bids for the task of re-modelling the Conservative party, prior to an election.

Both Murdoch and the female person who was PM in the 80s were somehow well and truly part of the story. With an excellent cast including Sally Dexter, Joe Dixon, Jill Halfpenny, John Gordon Sinclair, Paul Hickey and Ciaran Kellgren we were left, in no doubt, that if we listened to our playwrights more perhaps some of the problems of this world would not be there. Personally I was delighted how they responded to Thatcherism.

Our recent difficulties were cradled at a time when individual greed was encouraged where humanitarian issues were corroded and this marvellous satire brings the message home. Oh that we had listened then. Congratulations to Doug Lucie, and well done Mark Ravenhill and your outstanding actors. Thank you Team RSC.

David Stevens

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DUNSINANE –  I quote what Ingrid wrote.  “We watched Dunsinane today in Stratford, at the matinee: What a fantastic performance! It was tremendous, powerful, playing incredible tricks with one’s mind. Brian Ferguson, the Malcom/Karzai who came over as the true realist, quite lovable and just a little despicable, Jonny Phillips as the noble warrior, so naive and yet so cruel, Tom Gill, little Sojo who was told…, and the wonderful Siobhan Redmond as Gruach, she had me in tears at the end.“ What a production! Bravo! Thank you National Theatre of Scotland! Thank you RSC for putting it on at The Swan. I enjoyed it again. Tonight is the last performance in Stratford. Congratulations to all the National Theatre of Scotland team and good luck for the next performances of the play. Thought provoking and wonderful acting.

SCOTT HANDY TALK FOR THE RSC FRIENDS –  It was a privilege to be present, when Scott Handy gave a mesmerizing talk to the RSC Friends. Everyone there appeared impressed by his sincerity and relevant comments including how actors bring the written lines to life. We should thank him for taking time to talk to us despite his busy schedule. Scott is such an intelligent, pleasant, unassuming gentleman and a credit to his profession.  And thank you Jane for your pertinent questions –so good a host and for organising the Event along with Penny who also deserves our thanks.

UNWRAPPED AND SCRIPT- IN – HAND PERFORMANCES – We have been enjoying going to the various Unwrapped Events that have been staged at the RSC and also the script in hand readings. I am looking forward to Saturday which starts with Unwrapped Cardenio at 10.30, followed by a weekend created by Mark Ravenhill – script in hand readings Poppy at 2pm (a musical set during the 19th century Opium Wars) and Fashion at 7pm (a satire re political spin as an advertising tycoon bids for the job of re-modelling the Tories in 1987).

My goodness we are being spoilt for choice.

by  David Stevens

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