A Utopian Stage: Festival of Arts Shiraz-Persepolis
"The ancient Persian ruins of Persepolis were a spectacular backdrop for ‘one of the most adventurous and idiosyncratic festivals in the world’ (Artforum). The Festival of Arts was held around Shiraz, Iran every summer from 1967–1977.
A melting pot of traditional and avant-garde music, theatre and performance, the festival featured artists from both East and West, including the Beatles’ muse, sitar player Ravi Shankar and American composer John Cage, alongside Rwandan drummers and Balinese Gamelan musicians and dancers. Orghast,
a play by poet Ted Hughes and Mahin Tajadod, co-directed by Peter Brook, was staged, while Merce Cunningham’s dancers performed calisthenics among the ruins of Persepolis.
The festival came to an end with the Iranian revolution, but is now brought to life through this display of archive film and photographs, original theatre programmes and posters seen for the first time in the UK."
When I first entered the exhibition I was almost overwhelmed as I did not fully understand what all of the pieces were about, however when looking at more and more images and videos and reading the supporting information I saw not only the superficial beauty of the dances and culture I saw before me but also the tradition.
21.10.15 - Hamlet at the Barbican
Hamlet put on at the Barbican starring Benedict Cumberbatch was directed by Lyndsey Turner. A couple of friends and I really wanted to see this play as it had so many great reviews and people involved that I admire (like Es Devlin and Benedict Cumberbatch). However, being on a student budget we decided that we should try to get day tickets - we arrived at the theatre at 4am after a bit of wondering around trying to find the entrance. When were arrived there were already a fair amount of people queuing: we tried to count to see if we would still be able to get day tickets (if everybody got two, it was unlikely) however it was difficult to judge, so we sat on the floor: for about 5-6 cold hours. It was quite tiring, especially as we had not slept and the cold was really getting to us.
Finally at 9:30/10am we were allowed inside and thus sad in the warmth awaiting our tickets with anticipation. When we finally got to the front of the queue we got the last two day tickets and had to get some standing tickets, because we needed more than two. It was quite a tiring experience, but as soon as the curtain lifted I was truly happy that we had done it. The first thing that hit me was the gorgeous set design (by Es Devlin). The play opened to a small ambient, darkish space with Hamlet and a record player which then opened up to this incredible large castle-like architecture with a beautifully designed dining room, decadent decorations and beautifully made blue walls and doors. Intricate chandeliers hung with pale flowers and the walls were ornate with grand paintings.
"This set is so sumptuous, intricate and declamatory that it runs the risk of becoming an alternative show, of competing with the action rather than steering you into it" - The Guardian
At first the play seemed to be a period piece however soon I realised that the costumes were very much a mix of modern and old (hoodies, converse and watches with old fashioned dresses and jackets). I also really appreciated all of the details put into the set and props which did not make it feel so much like a production but rather a real place where real people lived. Overall when I left the theatre, this experience really allowed me to remember how much I love theatre and that I would like to study it further because I have always enjoyed being part of the cast, crew and audience of every performance I have participated in or watched.
You Me Bum Bum Train was a really good experience; while it was fairly long non-stop work (which was quite tiring for me particularly as I was always either holding a large filming camera or a microphone boom). It was a really nice experience because quite a few of us from PDP were there and so it was also nice to get to know my classmates better, particularly those I did not have much opportunity to speak to yet. Everyone at the event and all of the volunteers were very kind and charming, and overall the environment was really enjoyable to work in.
I found that the immersive concept of YMBBT was very interesting - projecting people into a variety of situations without them knowing what they were getting into at all. I reflected upon the fact that when in this situation, people are somewhat forced to act completely intuitively and immediately. Therefore the people who were 'performing' in front of us (the passengers) were actually at their most primal and quite vulnerable because while they did somewhat have control over what happened in accordance to their reactions to the stimulus, they must have felt relatively out of control. This could be an interesting theme to translate to another performance or interactive piece.
07.11.15 - You Me Bum Bum Train
Today a classmate asked us all for help with 'You Me Bum Bum Train' as there were not enough volunteers for the production that night. I had never heard of YMBBT before this, and after looking into it I immediately agreed to help out and join as a volunteer. The experience sounded thrilling and compelling, let alone something I had not experienced before and therefore wanted to try out.
The Welcome Collection - States of Mind
"Exploring phenomena such as somnambulism, synaesthesia, and disorders of memory and consciousness, the exhibition will examine ideas around the nature of consciousness, and in particular what can happen when our typical conscious experience is interrupted, damaged or undermined."
This exhibition was so interesting to me as it looked into the psychology and strange phenomenon linked to conciousness. Having studied cognitive psychology I recognised a lot of studies and pieces of information which allowed the exhibition to be very consolidating to me and extremely attention-grabbing. I remember most reading about synaesthesia. The first display I saw liked to this syndrome was the alphabet in colour and I saw the piece before the explanation - immediately I recognised that this must be the work of someone with synaesthesia as each letter was described to have its own colour. Surely enough 'The alphabet in colour' by Vladimir Nobokov was linked to synaesthesia. I also discovered that Wassily Kandinsky was thought to suffer from the condition which I hadn't known before but made sense to me when recalling his works. I then took part in a small training session from the study 'Adults can be trained to acquire synaesthesia' in which 'normal' adults were trained to experience symptoms of synaesthesia. I found this very enlightening as it is always very difficult to imagine conditions in which was I consider as a normal perception of the world is completely different in someone else's mind, but for the first time I viewed a text as a synaesthetic person might. I still remember the colours assigned to the 6 letters provided: u = grey, r = red, b= blue, e= green, d = brown, p = pink.
Today I went to see the musical Wonder.land by Damon Albarn, Moira Buffini and Rufus Norris. It was a very interesting play to see particularly because I feel quite divided on my opinion about it. While I truly enjoyed the experience of watching it and would probably go again to see it, it definitely had strong and weaker points.
When watching and after discussing with the person I had gone to see it with, we both agreed that costume, set and choreography were all splendid and eye-catching, keeping the audience bewildered. However what let the play down was its script and overall story. While entertaining, it seemed that it had been written by an adult trying to understand the teenage obsession with the internet and today's apps, but did not succeed in correctly portraying this environment. When later looking up critiques I found that this seemed to be the general consensus; one critique I particularly remember reading stated that the play was written by middle-aged writers for a middle-aged audience about a teenage topic, and was thus not convincing.
However I was definitely dumbfounded by some of the costumes; they were bright and so textured as well as three-dimensional that they truly created a very intriguing world.