Monday, September 20, 2010

Gypsy My Shakespeare

This week Majlis welcomed the Dzieci Theatre Group to the stage for a Gypsy retelling of Macbeth, cleverly (re)titled Makbet.

The evening had a great air of authenticity, with songs of the Balkan Gypsies playing as ambiance from dated vinyl records.

Entering the Majlis art space which I had come to know well over the season, I was immediately struck with the sense that something was very different. Eastern European accents, pickles, wine, and kielbasa were finding their way to each and every patron. The space was abuzz with laughter and story telling. One could even have their fortune read by a rather fascinating clairvoyant, who continued to have demands for readings until the very last minutes leading up to the play.

Screw Your Courage To The Sticking-Place

The play began with the audience slowly making their way onto the stage where seats were arranged in a circle around a seemingly eclectic collection of items - old-fashioned flashlights, a scarf, a hat, a jacket, et cetera. The “rules of engagement” for this particular show (taken directly from the groups leaflet) were as follows:

1) Actors must know the entire text.
2) Actors may not play the same role in successive sequences.
3) Roles can be taken or given, embraced or refused.
4) Three actors alone must play all the roles.
5) We begin in ceremony and remain in ceremony till the end.
6) Nothing else is planned.

The lights were dimmed and soon the only illumination came from the flashlights and wax candles dwelling in the centre of the stage.
Each article of clothing was designated to represent a particular character in the story, and whomever was wearing the item was to embody that character until it was passed on.
As mentioned, the troop does not attempt to anticipate who will play which part at any given moment. This creates a fabulous sense of madness as well as awe, “a sense of danger more akin to contact sports than to theatre(Makbet leaflet).” How fitting for Macbeth?

The Wine Of Life Is Drawn

The whole performance from start to finish was, in a phrase: of a people at the local and fundamental level; of the grass roots.

Make sure you see one of their shows this year. (

Edited By: Kit Cat (

Monday, September 6, 2010

Once There Was A Beautiful Kingdom

In rethinking our history, we are not just looking at the past but at the present, and trying to look at it from the point of view of those who have been left out of the benefits of so-called civilization. It is a simple but profoundly important thing we are trying to accomplish, to look at the world from other points of view. We need to do that, as we come into the next century, if we want this coming century to be different, if we want it to be not an American century, or a Western century, or a white century, or a male century, or any nation’s, any group’s century, but a century for the human race.

::Howard Zinn::

This week’s FoS was very much a theatre of the radical, breeding a mood that compelled a journey to the root of our perspectives and behaviours. A demand to re-evaluate the sense of exceptionalism of our brother to the south and ourselves.

Rapper, playwright, and activist Belladonna fervidly lifted away the thin soap-scorched skin veiling the discontent widely present in our nation.

Her poetry: layered yet simple. Belladonna twisted the often comforting nationalistic and capitalistic mythos, old and modern, with ease, sliding the perspective to those that have traditionally (and presently) not benefited from such underlying systems of belief.

One of the most pernicious and destructive modes of reasoning in our society today is that ‘if you work hard, you will become rich’. The meaning of that being, if you are poor, it is because you haven’t worked hard enough. Belladonna paints, with a frightening familiarity many of us can recognize, the effects of such dogma on a human mind.

Little can be said that will do justice to her pieces touching on war: simple, emotionally direct, urging nothing short of an end to war, in all forms, for any reasons.

Cheryl O, a cellist with salt and pepper hair, composed often somber, consistently emotionally potent accompaniment; a marriage of the sharp and the glossy set a tone akin to the sensation of being present in a George Orwell dystopia. This proved to be an outstanding combination with verse and dance.

Sasha Ivanochko’s dance was striking, unexpected and, when combined with Cheryl O’s cello, chops, effects and loopers, mercilessly engrossing. Sasha established the distinct impression she was embodying a single tortured creature, composed of the collective disturbance of a people, desperately attempting to grasp, to reconcile what they have been bred to believe, about just and unjust wars, the valuing of human beings, with the present state of the world.

Next week’s Figure of Speech is the last of the season, so be sure to drop by Majlis theatre.

Edited By: Kit Cat (