Archive for the 'One' Category

Hatch at NEAT11: A Brief Guide To The Performance-y

I’ve been asked by Hatch to document the series of performances taking place during NEAT11, and over the coming weeks I’ll be attending and responding to the various events taking place under the Hatch banner as they happen. NEAT11 is also a moment where Hatch (to labour the egg metaphor) pecks through the shell of its own history and spreads its wings, building on its previous metamorphoses from one-night programmes taking over a single Nottingham venue (The Maze, Loggerheads, Bar Deux and The Ropewalk among them) to one-night programmes taking over entire streets (Broad Street in Hockley for Hatch: Abroad, St James’ Street for Hatch: Across) and most recently, during Sideshow2010, presenting Hatch: It’s About Time in two different forms, first at Embrace Arts in Leicester, then exactly a month later at Nottingham Castle.

This time, Hatch takes a radically different form, offering a series of performances in a whole range of venues – from an outdoor green at Wellington Circus (with Medium Rare and Zoo Indigo) to a room at the Nottingham Forest football stadium (for Mehrdad Seyf and Chris Dobrowolski’s Poland 3 Iran 2); from the Polish Eagle Social Club in Sherwood (for Krissi Musiol’s Sugar Statues) to The Space at Nottingham Contemporary for Gabriele Reuter’s Tourist. As always with Hatch, the work will be informed by and reflect on its location, but this time the performances are more self-contained, and the total event will only be visible as each takes place over the two weeks of Hatch at NEAT11. As we prepare to start this journey through the city’s history, and take in some of its more curious spaces, it seemed worth thinking about what Hatch is, and below are a few notes on some of its ‘performance-y’ precursors:

One Voice and an Audience

From the earliest days of human existence, telling stories has been the most traditional form of performance known. Whether it’s Stone Age tribes around a fire, recollecting the deeds of ancestors and the details of that day’s hunt, the tellers of tall tales like Gawain and the Green Knight in Saxon England or Charles Dickens doing his reading tours (on one memorable occasion, at the Mechanics Institute in Nottingham), the performance involving a single person with something to say and a knack of saying it engagingly has been at the root of every other form of theatre for thousands of years. One of the more memorable experiences on offer at Hatch: One at the Ropewalk was being enveloped by scents under a duvet while Sam Rose created a one-on-one performance in which she whispered her words directly into the ears of her audience, while  Hatch: It’s About Time gave Chris Dobrowolski an opportunity to demonstrate just how much ground one man with a few slides and a story to tell could cover.

A Slightly Absurd Sense Of Humour

The idea of the absurd in theatre is usually traced to the Ground Zero of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi in 1896, and Jarry’s sterling effort certainly covers things for much of the modern era, give or take the occasional melodrama that crossed the line of plausibility, or such determinedly non-realistic traditions as the Punch and Judy show. Yet many point out that Aristophanes was already presenting material of an absurdist bent at the Dionysian Theatre Festivals of Ancient Greece, and a quick glance at plays like The Frogs and The Acharnians – where actors playing male roles sported huge padded or leather phalluses alongside female characters played by men – reveals that much of the humour was far from sophisticated or respectful. Slapstick, ludicrous musical taunts, score-settling with rivals, all contained in plots that spiral quickly into absurdity, before a few token lessons are learned. Anyone who saw the Oyster Eyes performance at Hatch: It’s About Time, or the odd puppet show staged in a cardboard ice-cream van by Brosnan & Goodge as part of Hatch: Wish You Were Here will know that few Hatch sessions pass without an absurd moment or two.

The Site-Specific Performance

The earliest dramatic plays written in England are the Medieval Mystery cycles, and these were always site-specific, designed to be performed at religious festivals in the towns that created them by casts drawn from the local population. Whether it’s the celebrated York, Chester and Lichfield plays, or such one-off dramas as Everyman – usually performed in churches – Medieval theatre was constructed on improvised stages in specific places, taking performances to their audiences in a manner that is very Hatch-like. In the 60s and 70s, these traditions were revived by companies like Welfare State International in the UK, or Bread and Puppet Theatre in the US, each working to create performances that got out from beneath the proscenium arches and went wherever their audiences were likely to be, absorbing them into the spectacle as they went. Whether it’s Frank Abbott reconstructing The Tales of Robin Hood in the grounds of Nottingham Castle for Hatch: It’s About Time or Adam Goodge in his finest sparkly waistcoat offering philosophical lessons on the green baize in Riley’s Snooker Hall at Hatch: Across there are some performances that just couldn’t happen anywhere else.

The Act Of Not-Acting

Sometimes, a performance involves someone appearing to reveal that they’re not acting, while in fact not really being themselves. Of course, there’s always been a need for audiences to pretend we don’t notice famous actors in traditional theatre: who didn’t know that Laurence Olivier was, in fact, Laurence Olivier when he played Hamlet or Henry V? But at Hatch these games can go further, as when The Megaphones presented their Time Freeze reunion at Hatch: It’s About Time, slipping between pretending to be the stars of a terrible 1980s TV show and being blatantly themselves, while still pretending to be the stars of that show. Others might do the reverse and make their characters seem entirely real. I’m fairly sure that Gemma Neep isn’t actually an obsessive Facebook stalker prone to emotionally blackmailing everyone around her, and she seemed lovely after her show had finished, but the way she played exactly that character in her performance at Hatch: It’s About Time might lead us to think otherwise, and I’d be rather wary of clicking on the invite if she did send a Friend request. I’m fairly sure that some Hatch performers are being themselves, though. Well, perhaps…

The Lecture, Talk and Guided Tour

Of course, that business of pretending to be someone else is less noticeable when performers purport to be doing something other than performing: perhaps, like Southpaw Junction at Hatch: It’s About Time or Jenna Finch and Gareth Morgan during NEAT11, they’ll be offering guided coach tours, or explaining the history of a place. Perhaps they’ll be offering a lecture on a subject you’re unfamiliar with, or taking you out on a walk and pointing out the sites of historical interest. Is this experimental? Well, I’ve been on many Ghost Walks, listened to lots of reflections on the past, and heard specialists in various disciplines making highly contentious assertions with absolute conviction, so such things might easily be mistaken for performance. Hatch performers might, like real lecturers, guides and raconteurs, be embellishing and inventing things, just to liven the whole experience up, holding your attention by adding the very things they know you want to hear. They might be leading you up a particularly scenic garden path, with just a small grain of objective truth at the end of it. As a rule, the more outlandish it is, the more likely it is to be true. Be especially wary when performers offer proof of their assertions. The chances are it’s all been fabricated.

The Crossover

Like many other aspects of experimental performance, the crossing of art-form boundaries is usually thought of as a contemporary concern, at the cutting edge of things. But as Ben Jonson’s collaborations with Inigo Jones to create lavish Masques during the early 1600s show there’s nothing all that new about the business of writers, artists, musicians and dancers coming together to create performances involving all these disciplines and more besides. It’s often forgotten that Handel’s Water Music was created for a performance on a barge on the River Thames in 1717 rather than a concert hall, while his Music for the Royal Fireworks was written in 1749 with a Pyrotechnic display over Vauxhall Gardens in mind. Whether it’s W.B. Yeats writing plays to be performed in the style of Japanese Noh for the Abbey Theatre in 1917 or Sheffield’s Forced Entertainment and Nottingham’s Reckless Sleepers and Gob Squad adding film and video to the mix in 2011, the ways devised by performers to transgress the fixed boundaries of the seemingly conventional stage production by introducing elements now considered alien to it are as old as the conventions themselves. Rules, like eggs, are there to be broken.

So, where does the Hatch idea of the Performance-y sit on the experimental/traditional continuum? In truth, the traditional idea of theatre as a proscenium stage where audiences listen quietly to the lines spoken by professional actors is a fairly recent invention (dating to around the eighteenth century) that was never the whole story, being both pre- and post-dated by other ways of doing things. From Victorian Music Hall and fairground melodrama to the audience participation at Edwardian pantomimes and reports of groundlings playing cards on the edge of the stage at Shakespeare’s Globe in the 1590s while vendors and prostitutes plied their trades during the soliloquies, it seems performance has looked more like one of the many incarnations of Hatch than the main stage at The National for most of its recorded history. That Hatch and its performance-y ethos fits so well into the programme of NEAT11 – which itself spans the full range of European theatre today – only supports the point.

Hatch: One photos

Below: some amazing photographs of Hatch: One taken by Dom Henry and Jon Rouston. Click on an image to see the full album.

You can also click here to see Jon’s own slideshow, with ambient audio captured live on the night.

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more about “Hatch: One photos“, posted with vodpod

All in One Basket

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“A colourful and varied evening of non-stop entertainment… You must catch the next one!”

Richard Pilgrim has reviewed Hatch: One for the new Nottingham Visual Arts site.

Read the article by clicking here, or see the full text of the review after the jump.

(Photo by Jon Rouston)

Continue reading ‘All in One Basket’

Happy Birthday to Hatch

Hatch is now officially one year old. Thank you to everyone who came, performed, supported, or otherwise helped make Hatch: One the fantastic night out it was. You are all brilliant and we were very glad to have you at our birthday party. Thanks.

Photos and whatnot from the event will be up here soon, but to start with, please check out below the incredible 365 frame stop-frame animation created live on the night by Annie Parry, Matt Watkins and the audience:

Hatch: One

Hole in One from 'Top Ten Number Ones' by Gareth Taylor

Hatch: One

Tuesday 5 May 2009

8pm until late

FREE

The Ropewalk

Derby Road, Nottingham

One year ago, Nottingham’s newest performance-y platform started moving around the city to create a peripatetic space for people to experience high-octane performance-y antics.

So far we’ve Hatched three times to over 400 people and supported 40 emerging artists to break from their creative shell. So we thought it was time to celebrate.

Hatch: One responds to the theme of One to help us celebrate being One. 14 artists take over our biggest venue yet with work that deals with one-ness, lasts one minute or is experienced by one person at a time. One night only. One of a kind. One to remember. Hatch: One.

Hatch is a regional platform for new work from the East Midlands set to transform the live arts landscape.

Warning: Hatch may contain nudity

Artists:

The Accidental Animator

Daniel Somerville

Emily Smallwood

Fay Rayner

Gareth Taylor

Girls Can’t DJ

Glenn Simpson

Graham Elstone

Hamish Walker

Michael Pinchbeck

Natalie Duncan

Poppy Jackson

Sam Rose

SHRUG Ladies

One mixtape

2000_01_1-number-one_web The mixtape for Hatch: One can be heard at 8tracks by clicking these words.

Let’s get this birthday party started.

Ropewalk Recon

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If you’re thinking of submitting a proposal for HATCH: One but are currently unfamiliar with The Ropewalk, see below for floorplan sketches and photographs of the venue.

Continue reading ‘Ropewalk Recon’


@hatchnottingham

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