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Blog moving to hannahsilva.co.uk

Happy New Year!

I’m well into the January Blues. Mitigated slightly by buying Edward Lear’s ‘Alphabet of Nonsense’ from the British Library.

J was a Jackdaw
Who hopped up and down,
In the principle street
Of a neighbouring town.

j!
Jacky-jo-jown!

A message for the 219 followers who get my blog delivered via email…

Tom Chivers of Penned in the Margins has been helping me migrate to slick new website that includes this blog within it.

So I’m going to be closing shop here. Thank you for following my posts, for your comments and shares.

Please come with me to: http://hannahsilva.co.uk -it works pretty much the same.

Coming up there: an interview with Ross Sutherland, a blog about using sign-language in Schlock!, and perhaps something about what happens when we view one artform through the lens of another: choreographing language, composing with the body, writing with sound…

So far we haven’t figured out how you can follow my blog over at hannahsilva.co.uk, so please keep an eye out for future posts which I’ll tweet @HannahSilvaUK or Facebook: HannahSilvatheatre

Thanks all!

Hannah

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No one really intended to kill all the children

Children have become shields
Children have become negotiators
Children have become philosophers
Children have become celebrities
Children have become martyrs
Children have become patient
Children have become flies
Children have become sexed
Children have become stupid
Children have become terror
Children have become food
Children have become rapists
Children have become dreams
Children have become brutal
Children have become memories
Children have become socialists
Children have become guns
Children have become adverts
Children have become angels
Children have become roads
Children have become poets
Children have become violence
Children have become dirt
Children have become strong
Children have become missiles
Children have become news
Children have become ideas
Children have become horror
Children have become parents
Children have become desolate
Children have become fantasy
Children have become lit candles
Children have become cities
Children have become distressing
Children have become too much

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Sorry for the planes

Adler & Gibb – further thinking

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What are we all doing in a theatre? – Karl James

 

I get many emails from unfamiliar email addresses containing links that I am asked to download. I got several of those emails yesterday, and actually downloaded one of them – when I realised it was from one of the directors of Adler & Gibb. I got a personal podcast! Trust this lot to even use our daily communication method in innovative ways. In my personal podcast, Karl James, against a background of airplanes, thanks me for my piece about their piece and talks about why the film.

Now I’m not a proper critic or anything, but I think it’s a good thing for artists to answer reviews and start conversations, and I enjoy imagining Billington also receiving a personal podcast, perhaps with the sound of lobsters growling gently in the background.

So this prolongs my thinking about the piece, and particularly the film. It can’t change my experience of that part of the night, but it can change my mind now, or make me think more now, and the only theatre experiences I like are the ones that I don’t forget about when I leave. Getting stuck on something means I’ve still got some part of the play to work on, it stops the evening stopping at the end of the night. Perhaps theatre is better when there’s a part of it we choke on.

So I got that the film clearly wasn’t the film that Louise made, and I also didn’t forget that Adler & Gibb are not real and theatre is not real and therefore what I’m being shown is not the ‘real’ place but a version of an imagined one.

Nobody’s right, nobody’s wrong, so we wanted to put some images up and make a theatre into a cinema for a few minutes and to ask some more questions about what it is we do when we are sitting watching something together and whether anybody’s version is a valid one or whether anybody’s version is an invalid one. So it’s meant as a provocation I suppose. (Karl James – transcribed from podcast)

If theatre’s default position is authoritative then what Crouch, James and Smith do from the beginning is play with that position. But when the film comes on (it’s only a few minutes long by the way)… in spite of the fact I knew it was a version of an imagined place, the concrete gesture of it seemed to be trying to enforce the ‘reality’ of the imagined place, trying to say, look, you got it right, here it is…it felt like it was there to reward the audience for our hard work up until then, and I didn’t want that reward … it didn’t, at that stage anyway, make me think about versions or the value of rendering images, but it did demonstrate how much better theatre is at those things.

Perhaps I needed something else in the film, to allow me to think about it rather than reject it. Perhaps I needed a glimpse of a child operating a light or a camera in the background. Perhaps I needed to see the script of Adler & Gibb lying around. The film seemed so flat and final, but perhaps that’s part of the point…

Andrew Cowie responded to my piece about the piece and I like the way he saw the film, the journey from the exposing of the mechanics of theatre all the way to the supposed realism of film… funnily enough (or typically) Andrew Cowie justifies/explains the film with more certainty than Karl James – one of those examples of how, once the work is made, it belongs to the audience …. Cowie’s description does make me think differently about it. Makes me think differently but not (retrospectively) feel differently. I think Tim Crouch’s work is often a great collaboration between asking us to think and just letting us respond, in a more unquestioning, childlike way. I get delighted by the work, like a child, I want to be delighted all the way until the end and being interrupted makes me grumpy. What do we value from theatre? Thought provocation or emotional engagement or entertainment? I guess that was Brecht’s question.  … Or all three.

I took the first half of the show to be a critique of ‘realness’; how we’ve constructed an entire actor training industry to teach actors what they already knew as children, how we’ve got used to seeing realistic sets and props when in fact any real object can represent any fictional object when you place it in the theatrical frame, or when you play with it as a child, and how representation has supplanted its source to the extent that even the Margaret Gibb character starts to care about how she’ll look in the film. But having set up film as the enemy of imagination the film itself lingered over all those peripheral details the first half rejected as non-essential; the torn wallpaper, the leaking roof, the empty room and, with no actors, no action and no dialogue, we start to make stories out of it so maybe film doesn’t dull the imagination, it stimulates it differently.

So I saw the film as the continuation of the rest of the show; starting with actors facing the audience with no action or vocal inflection, then progressing through movement and expressive acting to realistic props and a representational stage set and then, via ‘live’ mediated video transmission, as per NTLive, to arrive at the logical conclusion: remove the actors altogether and just show the objects, followed by the last remaining, and utterly fake, live performance left to actors, the awards show. (Andrew Cowie, blog reply)

In my piece about the piece I wax lyrical about the images I could see in my imagination, and how I didn’t want them replacing. In his message to me Karl mentions responses to The Author, that audience members would say ‘how dare you put images in my head’ – even though there were no images on stage. With this I was saying ‘how dare you take images out of my head’, as Karl said, it proves the power of the theatre and of an audience to construct images.

The girl giving the lecture about Adler was trying to guess what her audience wanted and broke her script to ask, and couldn’t believe that getting the tattoo wasn’t enough, that her audience weren’t seeing the value of an unsigned napkin, and were just watching passively rather than applauding her for all her work.

 

Audiences are hard. What the hell do they want?

 

What are we all doing in a theatre?

 

Thinking breathing worrying
(it’s a large plastic lobster)
not watching the telly or checking email
building a sandcastle
watching a child lying in a grave
there’s a little boy just standing there
what’s he doing? He’s looking at us
and the deer disappears.

 

Actually I don’t think audiences are so hard. I agree with Karl & collaborators, that audiences like to work things out, and like to be surprised, and like work that doesn’t explain itself right from the beginning. The only problem at the moment is that a few (‘important’?) critics really don’t like that kind of work and when this kind of work is talked about in a particular way it can put off audiences and that makes theatres cautious about programming it. But it’s important that theatre gets to evolve just like every other artform, and audiences shouldn’t be underestimated.

There are viewers, listeners and readers who use whatever resources of interpretation and intertextual connection they can lay their hands on to create their own, new interpreations and connections. (Theo van Leeuwen, Speech, Music, Sound.)

It was delightful to receive Karl’s thoughts, and in his words, this is ‘a starting point for conversation rather than an end in itself.’

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Hannah Silva – Forms of Protest

This is going to keep me cheerful for days. Thanks for the review Dave Coates.

Dave Poems.

Full disclosure: Have seen Silva perform live once. She was pretty great!

Review: Silva’s poems are unlike anything I’ve read. As the video above (and this podcast, absolutely required listening) demonstrate, Silva’s physical voice is central to her aesthetic, removing it a huge risk; the formal aspect of the work is an integral part of the complicated and angry messages that the poems present. Her background in music, theatre and sound poetry inform Forms of Protest from the foundations up, and that the poems’ technical intricacy and often dispassionate removes are transferable to the page at all is a remarkable achievement. That so many successfully convey their political anger and emotional precision is a large part of what makes Forms of Protest a valuable book.

3 KS

The poems themselves are remarkable for the relative absence of the poetic ego. Only one poem, a startlingly frank snapshot of adolescent life at…

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¿Quién es ese señor?

A couple are dancing together at the front of an Omara Portuondo concert in Mexico City. Their feet seem sown together, they shift back and forth, the husband occasionally interrupts their rhythm with a strange hesitant step that his wife always follows. All they are doing is looking into each other’s eyes. A man next to them watches. Before he leaves he tells them he admires how they are dancing and how happy they are. The husband asks his wife ‘And who was that man?’ She tells him ‘That was Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Prize winner’.

The couple are my parents-in-law. They’re still dancing.

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Hannah Silva’s Forms Of Protest

Tears in the Fence

Sound poet and playwright, Hannah Silva’s long awaited debut collection, Forms Of Protest (Penned in the Margins 2013), admirably illustrates the variety of her poetry. Her range encompasses sonic repetition, sonnet, collage, monologue, list, SMS messaging symbols, and probing text and is never predictable. There is a great sense of musicality and of contemporary language use. Indeed my sixth-form students love her work both on the page and read aloud.  One of our favourites, ‘Gaddafi, Gaddafi, Gaddafi’, echoes childhood playground chants, and works through its long, flowing, circular lines, as if on a loop, as much as the repetition of the word Gaddafi.

 

I am going to tell you my name Gaddafi but I am

Going to tell you my age Gaddafi my age is ten

Gaddafi and I am going to tell you about a game

Gaddafi a game that I play Gaddafi I play with my

Friends…

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Feedback invited: The Disappearance of Sadie Jones

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Dear people who have come and seen ‘The Disappearance of Sadie Jones’ at the Bike Shed Theatre this week.

We have our last two shows today. We’ve really enjoyed talking to you about the work in the bar afterwards. I was looking back over my original Arts Council application and one of the many things I pledged to do was to make a space on my blog for feedback about the show. So, taking a risk that I’ll get no comments here at all….here is that space.

One of the things we’ve discussed in the bar afterwards is that it’s a play you might want to go away and think about, to sleep on, maybe it’s a tricky one to sum up in a tweet…you don’t have to sum anything up here….questions, thoughts, experience, anything welcome, we’d love to hear from you….comment section on this post is open!

*We have now toured to a few cities and our final night is at the Pleasance in London tonight [30th November] – please feel free to keep adding to the comment thread, thank you!

'The Disappearance of Sadie Jones'

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