I feel pretty grateful to hold this document in my hands. A playtext, precious on two counts. Firstly, In Time O’ Strife, the latest production from NTS. Its genesis in the writings of Joe Corrie, a beautiful but largely obscure Fife poet and playwright. “Obscure” may be an unjust description of this striking and humbling career, but it does hint at the ephemeral coincidence and fortunes that brought his writings back to the stage in 2013. A reminder that some of the most brilliant works spend a lifetime on the verge of never happening.
Secondly, this is my first published playtext. With images from my shoot with the company during rehearsals, the script becomes a more immersive medium to get lost in Corrie’s writing. I was sat front row centre last week for the opening of the production’s short run. A brave seat choice, as Joe Corrie’s words crystallised before us into a thunderous and emotional wave of stark, politicised energy. But gratitude remained as the smoke and lights cleared. To have worked on something so unintentionally evasive enjoy only a fleeting run. It felt that history was being made and remade on a torrential October night in Kirkcaldy.
|Hannah Donaldson, Ewan Stewart, Tom McGovern, Vicki Manderson, Paul Tinto, Owen Whitelaw, Anita Vettesse|
|Ewan Stewart as Jock|
|Ewan Stewart and Anita Vettesse|
|Anita Vetesse as Jean|
|Owen Whitelaw and Hannah Donaldson|
|Hannah Donaldson as Jenny|
|Owen Whitelaw as Wull Baxter|
|Paul Tinto as Bob|
|Vicki Manderson as Kate|
|Tom McGovern as Tam|
|MJ McCarthy, Jennifer Reeve, Johnny Scott, Adam John Scott|
This weekend ushers in the end of The Arches Behavior Festival for 2013. A heady five weeks of completely new work for the stage from Scottish and international artists. Eclectic and contemporary as only the Arches can, even the term “stage” is only applied loosely. This year saw a new creative partnership come to fruition between the Arches and NTS, which I am very indebted to have been involved in from early on.
The project gave five rising Scottish devisers an opportunity to research, incubate and perform new work at the festival. Each with their own developing trademarks and disciplines, some of them out and out rogues, but all of them auteurs of their craft. Having had the chance to meet them together for the school portrait lineup for a feature in The List, I was brimming to shoot all of their performances individually over the course of the month.
First was Gary McNair’s brilliantly referential investigation into stand-up comedy: Donald Robertson is not a Comedian.
Kieran Hurley explored notions of community and ideals of Scottishness in, effectively, a living room jamboree. Intimate and foot tapping: Rantin
Claire Cunningham’s ongoing curiosity in the body brought her to and back from Cambodia to begin a work meditating on the effects of landmines. A framework of disability through which the indiscriminate excess of war can be viewed from a humble perspective: Pink Mist
Finally, Rob Drummond’s centenary revisiting of Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring, through a screen of contemporary dance and music as well as recent societal dysfunctions. Leaving the outcome in the hands of the audience: The Riots of Spring
There have been heaps of great writing documenting the Festival, but for a succinct in house perspective check out Rosie’s blog.
There’s no fooling anyone now, Christmas is truly upon us.
I say it every year but it has taken me by surprise, again. Though I have no excuse. Over the last few weeks I have been working on several Christmas shows ready to hit the stages over busy December. So how can I pretend I didn’t see it coming?
Most notably, I shot the poster and promotional material for The Lyceum’s production of Cinderella. A festive mix of Parisienne charm with a few Ugly Sisters that wouldn’t be out of place in our own Glasgow.
I’ll let you make your own minds up about me and Matt’s performence. There’s a lot of great theatre that I cannot wait to see this month – I’ve still got my Panto Pout!
All eyes on deck!
At one fell swoop, here are my images from the recent and brilliant theatre productions I have had the pleasure of working on over the last month. All Scottish and all highly contemporary in their own ways.
First up, Ka-boing, is Random Accomplice’s The Incredible Adventures of See Thru Sam, which just finished its tour in Edinburgh’s Traverse a week back. Take a gander at their excellent website and admire Johnny McKnight’s comic book flair!
And for my inner teenager, at my inner back of the bus:
I was invited to Perth to shoot Horsecross Theatre’s production of The Odd Couple last month. A rewritten female version of the classic 60’s play and film. Sensation overload: with a really sumptuously 80’s set, wardrobe and palette that I literally didn’t know where to look! On top of everything the downtown NY accents and antics had me rightly tickled.
I had the great pleasure of shooting Greg Hemphill for the pre-production poster of the National Theatre of Scotland‘s new show that launched in Aberdeen on Tuesday. I am biding my time and praying to my diary for the chance to get my tickets for its visit to Glasgow.
The show is a heart-felt adaptation of the cult film starring Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward. If our portrait shoot is anything to go on, then the production looks set to be a total howl. I was asked to coax the Lord Summerisle from Greg so the designers could later dress and drop in front of a towering wicker inferno. Needless to say there was little coaxing needed.
It has been great to see the poster spread out across the local and national media. It has made the headlines a couple of times! I keep bumping into it inadvertently when I turn the pages of magazines and the papers. The company are broadcasting their production trials and tribulations from the NTS blog and in some top notch videos.
Book your appointment!
Lame pun. Sorry.
In one long overdue sweep of the hand, here comes a round-up like never before. Over the next few weeks i have a deep reservoir of work to excavate from the last few months. Live music, theatre, pop-up events, some celebration and the man in the street. The countdown is on to plaster up the blog before the new year arrives and with it that elusive “blank slate.” And i don’t want to be the one sitting on mountains of unsung footage while everyone else is off playing in the lush glens of paradise this new year now, do i?
To kick off the deluge of imagery is some of the rehearsal coverage from the the recent NTS production Truant. That December is rolling in, full of glowing fanfare and frosty promise and, for many, it inevitably ends as the year began, at home with family. Truant shines a cold light on youth and adolescence as much as it does on the family unit. Depicting the broken home from every class across the full spectrum of hurt and negligence, it hits our idea of truancy and family from every angle. It is an emotional confrontation that beautifully balances terse and very human dialogue with daydream sequences of abstract movement.
I was very happy to be able to be part of Truant’s development. It is always exciting to see a performance slowly tighten up over rehearsals until it uncoils itself in the theatre. It has finished its tour in the theatres and community centres of Glasgow but hopefully this is not the end of the road.
A few more visual updates from on and off the stage at the Edinburgh International Festival.
In many ways when we stand to applaud, we clap for what is immediately before our eyes. A procession of performers or a slight genuflection, the celebration is signalled and we are on our feet, gushing praise. We applaud the spectacle, though members of the audience never forget the craft.
But the craft is a spectacle all of its own. A performance itself behind closed doors. The preparation and procedure of a performance can last for weeks and merge across continents in differnet terrains before coming together before our cacophanous ovations.
For the Peony Pavillion, i knew this was certainly the case. The National Ballet of China allowed me to access their dancers on and off stage during their visit to the Edinburgh International Festival this week. It allowed me to penetrate the smoke and mirrors, so to speak, of their own rich spectacle. I saw how grand a feat it is to bring, literally to transport, a performance like that to the stage. Dozens of dancers, an orchestra, props and stage equipment as well as the company staff, all for 5 nights. I was lucky to see beyond the porceline expressions of some of the worlds greatest ballet dancers, to see how young they are and how their youth still shone through the pressures and demands of thier roles.
In the wings of the show i stood like a brick, while their serpentine bodies eased in and out of costumes and disappeared and reappeared through hidden doors. I was overcome just how powerful the ballet is from close quarters, but i was struck more by how wonderfully out of shape i felt.