“all the shitty shit” eve and ava have a very Trash conversation about Victory Condition and other things

we had a conversation and then we recorded it. enjoy x

the beginning

A: Okay you start

E: I thought about a really intelligent question

A: Oh My God

E: On the bus, I forgot my headphones so I was like right well gotta think about something

A: Okay go on

E: So. I think, there is a disparity between (in the show), what we see, what we hear, and what is true

A: Oooooh that’s very clever

E: Mic Drop

A: Oooo you’re so clever

E: But I was thinking about like, when you like see a show, do you like, when you remember it, do you think about what you heard, or about what you see

A: Yeah no there’s that really famous quote by someone and there like … Eve laughs … What?

Both laugh, indiscernible stuff, probably just weird noises

A: There’s a really famous quote by someone

E: By um by Ava Davies?

A: No no someone was like “Oh you never actually remember um, any of the lines of a show, which I don’t think is true, but you know, you don’t remember any of the lines”

E: Yeah we’re actually writers so

A: Yes I have a writer’s brain

Both laugh, again

A: No but like you never remember the words you remember the images that you see um I don’t know I don’t think that’s true

E: I don’t think that’s true but I think when I was, cuz when I was thinking about this I was thinking oh I definitely just remembered what I’ve seen, and then I was thinking about all the shows I’ve seen and I’ve liked, and I think about what I see with them as well

A: Yeah

E: Like with um Anyone’s Guess I just think the two girls

A: The images yeah

E: And the pillow, and like, that’s what I think

A: Yep yep, and then like the backpack, and the lights,

E: yep

 

eve n ava diss their friends and also brecht

A: I literally just think Victory Condition has the best beginning and ending of any show

E: So true

A: Ever.

E: Yeah.

A: It’s excessive, but like I’m a real sucker for shows that like, when the actors turn to the audience and they’re like ‘Hello.’ Like when they walked in and they were doing all, what were they doing, just like unpacking their shit and then they just looked and it was like (an un-writable sound made here, best way to describe it is :O ) Like oh my god. Everything’s Broken.

E: Yeah, it’s all broken down

A: It’s like it’s really simple as well

E: Yeah. It’s so simple.

A: And then I feel like if, like, a student did that, I would be like…whoa you’re breaking the fourth wall whoa

E: True though, like if you saw like someone here do that you’d be like

A: Yeah, I’d be like,

E: Yeah seen it before babes

A: /Bit Obvious

E: /Seen. It. Before

A: /It’s a bit Brecht

E: Okay, you’ve read a bit of Brecht, we get it

A: We get it.  But I don’t know why it was so effective or like, but I guess also because maybe the tone, like it was delivered / monotonously

E: And also like, Downstairs at the Court you expect a Super Naturalistic show

A: / Yeah

E: That’s like, it’s very like, Oh my God it’s going to be like a family drama, what’s gonna happen, and they’re like ‘Hello’ and you’re like ‘Oh my God’

A: Oh my Goood

E: ‘This one’s different.’

 

eve n ava just talk about the end again, cuz they’re basic

E: The ending is really interesting because he wrote like, loads of different endings

A: Yeah. I haven’t actually read the ending yet, like the text

E: No, well I gave mine to someone else,

A: Did you?????

E: Yeah I gave mine to George straight away, so he still has it, and then I have to give it to Ciara

A: Oh God

E: So it’s like, I’m not gonna read it for ages. But I think that’s good

A: No that is good, cuz I like, yeah, I was, I didn’t want to read it straight after I’d seen it, cuz I just thought the ending was so precise. It’s really interesting I wonder like how much that was him and how much it was Vicky

E: Yeah true

A: You know?

E: I think he didn’t have an ending for a while. So maybe that was the ending they came up with in the rehearsal room and then he wrote a different ending and they were like, No we prefer our rehearsal one. I would fucking love that. I would not put it past Vicky.

A: I know

E: Ugh I love her

A: She’s amazing

 

eve n ava talk about crying, because they both cry All The Time

E: I went into Victory Condition being like I know I’m going to Love it, halfway through I was like, I don’t Like it, and

A: Oh Really

E: And when I came out I was like I Love it

A: That’s interesting

E: So weird

But I cried twice in that fucking show.

A: When did you cry??

E: Because the writing was so good

A: Which bits did you cry in?

E:  … See like I don’t even remember

A: That’s really interesting that you don’t remember

E: I think it was like partly when she started talking about the girl

A: Yep

E: In the bathroom

A: Yep

E: That was really sad

And then. But I almost didn’t cry because it was sad I cried because it was like Oh My God that’s so beautiful

A: Yeah it’s written like

E: I mean obviously the situation is not beautiful that’s a horrific thing to say but like

A: No no sure sure but it is written

E: Very nice

 

eve n ava love Chris Thorpe ❤

E: I mean we said it when we came out but it was like this is the play we all want to write

A: Oh my god, Completely

It’s so simple

E: Yeah.

 

eve n ava say smart things

A: It’s interesting that you say it’s about what happens in one moment, because it’s also kind of like, The Moment, generally, like the sort of

Both: The Global Moment

A: But you know do you know what I mean it’s like, it’s more like the feeling,

Because it was just that feeling of complete terror

E: Yeah

A: And like, instability

And it was just like, Oh my God

E: Someone tweeted that it was like a 55 minute panic attack

A: OH THAT’S SO CLEVER

E: Because it just built, and I think that’s maybe partly why I cried the second time because I was just so On Edge, and I was like I just need it to be over

A: Thing is whenever, I was really apprehensive going in because

with Chris Thorpe I’m always going in with Oh my God I’m going to be so Traumatised

E: Yeah exactly

A: And it actually wasn’t

E: I feel like it was a weirdly slow burn show for a 55 minute show

A: So slow burn

But also like I knew from the beginning like when he started talking about being the sniper like I knew it wasn’t going to talk about the minute when he hits her.

E: Yeah

A: Um But that just made it worse?!

Because I knew there wasn’t going to be any like actual violence

E: Almost like gratification, like you don’t get that

A: Yeah yeah you don’t get the final sort of like

Yeah

E: Yeah you just have this Horrible build up

A: Which is the worst bit

 

eve n ava like breaking rules

E: But then it’s really weird because the woman’s story isn’t like this direct contrast, it’s a completely different thing? It’s this weird like frozen

A: A whole other

E: Moment, and then it’s got this Weird Sci-fi thing where she sees into the moment and it’s like Whaaaat is going on

A: I was so amazed

It was just like, it broke like, all the rules of it, for me. Which was really fun, it was just like

It was very freeing

He just sort of did it

Just went with this completely inverse, not even inverse, just like completely torn apart narrative of the woman that’s in no way related, not in any way related to, the man’s moment.

E: And I think people like, look for connections and they’re like what’s the connection, What’s the Theme here, and it’s like Well there isn’t one

A: But that’s also probably what it’s about like looking for meaning. And like so many shows are like about like Looking for Meaning in a World Without Connection, you know like

E: True, yeah. He did it very well though because it was like there is literally no, not that there was no meaning, I feel like that’s a disservice, but that

A: But like everything is so atomised

E: Yeah exactly

How do we talk about everything at once and also, nothing?

A: Yeah, and like communicate this like, deep Despair in our hearts

 

eve n ava get stressed

E: I didn’t feel that, like, not sad, but I didn’t feel that Hopeless throughout it I just felt, quite like stressed out,

A: Yeah no it was stressful. It was a really stressful watch.

And I guess, I didn’t feel Hopeful at the end, like when he’s, when it is that ending of like, he looks up and he’s like ‘Sharon’, and they make the eye contact and the light changes, and oh I just get goosebumbs even thinking about it. But you know that’s like, I felt like quite gratified by it? Not like totally but it was just a sort of like

E: Yeah which I kind of didn’t like

A: Really?

E: I don’t really like gimmicky endings and I felt like it was a little bit like

Ooo we’ve come out of it now so we don’t need to worry about it anymore

A: Sure sure sure sure

go to avatalksabouttheatre.wordpress.com to read the second half

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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strangeness and love

nuclear war

When I walk in I decide to watch the show in the chair that looks like the one in my grandmother’s first house, in the corner of the dining room. I think the show will be dystopian, political, divisive. I cross my legs. I uncross my legs. People are watching me as they walk in, I’m watching them. We watch each other in the performance, too. The show wasn’t what I thought, in fact was an acute examination of grief and loneliness in a world of isolation and love.

burn a coffee on a stranger. have sex. speak to someone on the tube, don’t speak to someone on the tube, have sex. orgasm, don’t orgasm. switch on the light. drink milk. hide. grieve. miss. fold the duvet cover. don’t speak to someone on the tube. leave the underground. sun. sun. bright. tangerine. tangerine tights. mess. bricks. teacup, teacup, break.

The world of the play is big. By this I think I mean the physical space in which we all sit feels wide, high, bloated. There are huge gaping pieces of empty floor and wall. Only two rows of chairs line the very edges of the space. Mismatched and in keeping with the lamp and dressing table, the chairs are bolted to the floor. The performers watch us. We can’t really see them but we can see enough of them to know that they are watching us.

At the start of the show Maureen Beattie downs milk in a glass. She downs a further glass of water. Simon Stephens watches on. I can’t tell what he’s thinking and later we learn he hated it until today. I loved it, the downing of the water, it was the first moment I realised I loved the show.

The world is dance the world is noise is the size of the room is the colour of the lights.

Colour. I remember colour. The stage is red and everything is red. Beattie points out the yellow. Suddenly I see everything on the stage that’s yellow. Back of headphones and cigarette butt and lamp.

We follow a woman on a day. It’s a day any day, it’s seven years after a death. I want this to have happened over 45 minutes. Maybe she hasn’t even left her house and when she comes home at the end she’s really just leaving her room and we’re on a loop.

Maybe not.

There’s a lamp light in the middle of the room. It’s a carpeted room. I love the huge fuck off speakers dragged along the cream carpet. A long wire connecting to the lamp reaches from the middle of the space into a far corner. I’m scared the dancers will trip but they definitely don’t trip because Imogen is good she’s really fucking good. The movement contained, formed, outlined the words. (Radical for the Court? Maybe. Maybe a new iteration of exacting psychological human thought). Black coats, no shoes. Body morphs, writhes, eats. We’re confronted with destruction, orgasm, chaos.

Another thing I loved was the tights over the heads. You don’t see it at first. That’s the best kind of visual image because it makes you work for it. The performers stuff an orange in their mouths (is there a mouth hole in the tights??). They gorge on orange zest citrus. Correction, tangerine in mouth. That’s important.

Later there are ripped up pieces of orange on the floor. Mess and crumble and peel. What is left after grief? Perhaps it is the cathartic exhaustion after crying in public. Heaving cries, not just little tears. The mess, and the orange tangerine peel.

It’s near the end and now the world is a heptagon of bricks. A plant thrown down in the centre of the small smaller tiny world. The world is her arms the world is dark.

What nuclear war was, or what it seemed to me to be, was a cacophony of visceral feeling and experience. Sounds pretentious, probably is. Every part of the movement and words deeply cuts us, forcing its way into our peripheries and stretching our necks to far corners of the space. The four dancers cover their face with tights and we also feel the suffocation. Physically and emotionally. Suppressed by a grief that is at once all-encompassing and elusive.

I have mixed feelings which I don’t think comes across here. Maybe I’ll write another review in a month, or a year.

Also as I publish this Simon Stephens sits 10 meters away in the Royal Court bar.

Later, I speak to him and I’m so nervous I snap my metal ring in half. He tells me to keep writing and I get very emotional and it’s one of those things I know I’ll remember.

a profoundly affectionate, passionate devotion to someone (-noun)

debbie tucker green’s decentralisation of power begins in her title. in her very authorship.

what must be grasped is that her writing is specific for black bodies in theatre. she writes that world because it is what she knows but also because it is a powerful political rebellion. yes this show could be performed by a white cast but really it shouldn’t be because that isn’t who it is written about or for.

tucker green remains an elusive figure in british theatre. her lack of interviews, scholarly investigation and profile often make her work seem impenetrable. in fact, it is much the opposite. the language is rhythmic and cuts off, perhaps not what we are used to in an age of television scripts and lingering shakespearian soliloquising, but it is more real than any drawn out monologue. this is how we speak. this is how she gives voice.

notably, there are written silences.

the silences are poetic just as the language is.

sometimes the silences say more. maybe they always say more.

tucker green’s work is so visceral, live, electric. it sparks and flicks. it bites. it bounces off the page into the mouths of the actors and out into the world. it is fire, it is passion, it is delicate. a profoundly follows three couples. inevitably intertwined, the structure of the stories is reminiscent of the three stoning mary narratives that neatly intersect at the final moment.

we sit on swivel chairs, separated into two sections and surrounded on three sides by a raised platform. the floor, walls, and seats, jutting out at perpendicular angles, are all the same blue-green tone. the whole set is a blank canvas, waiting to be patterned with the circles and runes drawn on throughout the evening by the six actors. i was entranced by merie hensel’s design. not only was the jerwood upstairs unrecognisable, the colour schemes worked beautifully. it was a live art installation cleverly masked as a theatre set. the chalk dust caked the actors’ hands, reminding us of the shadows that have followed them from previous scenes and from their lives before the scenes and the after, even if we don’t think about the after.

the acting is sharply placed. the ages of all the characters shift dramatically and some transform in front of us. we are confronted with a linear narrative that is presented through a structure that disrupts. the actors manage and control this eloquently, with grace and force. they are all standout performances. i am whisked away and yet we (the audience) are really all too present.

debbie is political without being overt. she changes the game while refusing to participate in it. she manages to be poetic without ever being wanky, something i am clearly yet to achieve.

 

[picture credit Stephen Cummiskey]

Learning to Die Better

Thoughts on The Children, Escaped Alone and Ecological Disaster

If you’re not going to grow, don’t live.

That’s what Hazel says and that’s what she believes. We believe her.

So I want to chat about James Macdonald for just a second. His two shows at the Royal Court in the past year, Escaped Alone and The Children, asked how we might best learn to cope and die in our old age in the apocalyptic imminence of our world. When Escaped Alone entered theatres in February of this year, it was highly praised for the age of the women on stage. We never see older women as the front runners of plays that are new, explosive, and unsettling. Linda Basset’s periodical and unfiltered documentations created a disquieting show. Churchill’s display of a dying world seen through surreal bifocal lenses asked us what we were willing to accept. Can we accept our mortality? The mortality of our planet? Are we prepared to take responsibility for the consequences, in our back gardens no less? Perhaps we find the answers in The Children.

Lucy Kirkwood presents her aging characters with a moral choice – choose to die for the ‘greater good’ or wait to die for the children, because they need you. Again, we are put in a domestic setting much like our own, except it’s a bit crooked (literally the set was titled). The cows are dead, Ken is dead, the wave came, the ground cracked; things are not as they were. And yet there is denial and a refusal to accept that what has happened, and what is happening, is going to affect how we live and die. We still do yoga, we still drink tea, we still bicker – because what else can we do? And then Rose, an outsider, an intruder, a different kind of person all together, disrupts us. When she presents Hazel and Robin, and us, with her proposal we are caught off guard. Is it our responsibility? Must we rectify what we have destroyed? Because, like Hazel said, they’re the kind of people that cleaned up other people rubbish on picnic sites and now they’ve earned it. They’ve earned the right to leave the mess and they’re tired of this shit. Kirkwood asks us then, essentially, are you prepared to pick up your rubbish and die for it? Because you were the ones that dropped it in the first place, right? I saw glimpses of Churchill in Kirkwood’s writing – the jumps between talk of tea and talk of catastrophe was seamless but there was a shift. What Churchill elongated and examined in Escaped Alone, Kirkwood condensed and put in a ticking clock world. So, what are we going to do?

But actually the question becomes not what are we going to do, but what are you going to do. You, the elusive, conservative older generation that voted for Brexit, that uses nuclear power, that created a system that fucks us – how are you going to fix it? When the shows are watched with these questions floating in the back of your brain, The Children becomes an angry piece of political theatre – pointing fingers and asking who’s going to clean this up? But maybe they’ve done enough and they shouldn’t have to sacrifice themselves? It’s so hard to answer this question, all these questions, because it is happening to us right now. There have been waves and leaks – it just hasn’t happened here yet so for us, for the ones watching the show, it’s not real. Not yet. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately about the Anthropocene and ecocritical thinking and the question that I keep coming back to is, what can we actually do? I think writing literature and plays and making art about the declining state of our planet and our species is important and it’s also futile.

I kind of like that though – it’s futile and if we draw attention to that and ask what is really going to be done, then maybe we can make change? But would we or anyone we know sacrifice themselves to try and salvage our planet? I’m not sure they would, or even if I would. And that is so scary. So we need to learn to die better. We need to learn to accept our own mortality and the impending mortality of this earth if we are complacent. It’s too overwhelming to think about the destruction of our entire species but we need to, and we need, like Macdonald, Churchill, and Kirkwood, to think of death as not something to resist, but simply an inconvenience.