Theatre

London-Theatres

Good news! Chelsea Theatre’s SACRED Spring/Summer 2013 season is bigger and longer than ever, beginning on Friday 27th March and running until July 6th 2013.

SACRED 2013 - Chelsea Theatre

Kicking off with Dickie Beau’s BLACKOUTS: Twilight of the Idols this Thursday and Friday, 
spectators will get a chance to experience never-before-heard audio footage from Marilyn Monroe’s final interview. Dickie is the first person to have ever been granted full access by journalist Richard Meryman who conducted Marilyn’s final interview published in Life magazine. And whilst bringing to life extraordinary artefacts from Judy Garland as well as Marilyn, Dickie leads the audience on a bewitching adventure in sound as he channels the ghosts of his childhood.

SACRED 2013 - Chelsea Theatre

Other shows include …

Peggy Shaw’s RUFF (4th & 5th April 2013): Following an acclaimed run in New York, this highly personal piece looks at the effects and aftermath of a recent stroke and is a tribute to those who kept Peggy Shaw company for 68 years.

Shelia Ghelani: Rat, Rose, Bird  (25th April 2013), explores empire, colonialism, mortality and love. Subtly mashing up cultures, curios, objects and ideas, the piece is a poetic meditation on farewells, departures, long journeys and ‘the hunt’ for a better life, a better love, a place to drop anchor or a space to claim (finally!) as one’s own.

Stacy Makishi – The Making of Bull: The True Story (20th May) and The Falsettos (24th & 25th May)Chelsea Theatre will be presenting a week-long celebration of Stacy’s work with the return of acclaimed The Making of Bull: The True Story and the world premiere of her new show The Falsettos.

Cross-platform artists Grace Surman and Cathy Butterworth will present a sculptural performance double act in Two Four One One (29th May 2013).

Internal Terrains (1st June 2013): Artist Natasha Davis presents a poetic and sensual performance with film and installations, crows, cages and electric shocks.

An Invitation to Fall (8th June 2013): This free participatory performance will explore the shock of being out of control, the liberation of inelegance, the risk of pain and the jarring of speed changes all inherent in falling.

Richard DeDominici: Anarchitecture in the UK (6th July 2013), explores the rise of punk at the birthplace of punk.

And finally …

Wishful Wednesday: Chelsea Theatre presents a series of lectures from some of the most interesting names in contemporary performance. Wishful Wednesdays is all about hopes, dreams and predictions for future practice, and for the future itself. Speakers include legendary performance artist Franko B (13th March) and Artistic director of National Theatre Wales John McGrath (5th June) as well as Mem Morrison (27th March), Lois Weaver (3rd April), Rajni Shah (10th April), Ernst Fischer (17th April), Kazuko Hohki (24th April), Marisa Carnesky (8th May), Karen Christopher (22nd May) and Robin Deacon (19th June).

If you have read any of my Chelsea Theatre posts, you’ll know that this King’s Road Venue creates experiences that lift you out of your reality and beyond your imagination. You don’t come here to anticipate the obvious but to be wowed by performances that will surprise, entertain and move you.

For more information on SACRED’s Spring/Summer 2013, visit Chelsea Theatre’s website.

I first discovered Robert Lepage’s work at the National Theatre when he brought Needles and Opium to London and ever since then I’ve been under the spell of this Quebecois director.

So needless to say, I was over the moon to hear that Lepage and his theatre company Ex Machina were returning to London with a new play. Playing Cards 1: Spades, with Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds to come.

Playing Cards: Spades - Robert Lepage

Used to seeing Lepage’s work at the National Theatre and having seen The Dragon Trilogy at The Barbican, it was a refreshing change to watch his latest play at the Roundhouse. I love this venue and the last time I had been here was for the Gorillaz gig a couple of years ago; so it had been a while.

Spades is set in the round, which creates a sense of intimacy that is relevant to the storytelling of the play: several lives cross paths inside a Las Vegas hotel/casino and as an audience, we become voyeurs into the characters’ deepest and darkest secrets.

The Roundhouse - Robert Lepage

Every angle of the character is exposed whilst the stage mechanics manage to transport us from the Nevada desert to the different hotel rooms where the action takes place. The stage transforms itself from a spa jacuzzi to a hotel bar seamlessly.

But Lepage’s wizardry isn’t purely technical. The characters’ journeys are mesmerising and the choreography on stage hypnotising.

Here is a little taster …

And here is a video with reactions from some of the audience …

After watching the production that night, the audience were very fortunate to be able to watch Lepage being interviewed live on stage. Lepage discussed his working practice with Ex Machina as well as the development process of Spades. It was also fascinating to listen to Lepage talk about his evolution as an artist and the reasons why he decided to step away from the proscenium arch and onto the round stage, in order to break down the invisible barrier between the performers and the audience by getting rid of the fourth wall altogether.

For Lepage fans expecting to see theatricality reliant on projection screens, you may be disappointed by this production because Lepage has consciously moved away from filmic devices to aid his storytelling. Instead, Spades is a continuous work in progress that looks to examine the human condition through the lives of his characters and therefore it is ever evolving.

Robert Lepage is one of the most fascinating visionaries of our time and this is why I don’t mind my expectations being thwarted. The basis of good drama is the element of surprise and Lepage always manages to provide this, even if at times you’re not sure where he’s leading you. His theatre is pure theatricality that immerses you into another world. It is pure escapism on a dream-state level and I, for one, cannot wait for him to return to London with the next three playing cards.

Playing Cards 1: Spades runs until 2nd March at the Roundhouse.

It probably goes without saying how much of a Wizard of Oz fan I am. I mean, who hasn’t been wrapped up and carried away by the classic tale of four strangers embarking on a quest along the yellow brick road?

This year I’ve also seen Dorothy’s ruby slippers at the Victoria & Albert museum and I cannot wait for Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great and Powerful, which stars Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and James Franco.

So why has it taken me so long to check out Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz?

After all, when tweeting my photos last week, I’d discovered that there were quite a few peeps who had either seen it (and more than once) – or wanted to see it.

I guess I was being cautious because I was afraid that Oz’s spell over me would eventually break. Then, in a moment of serendipity, I was offered the opportunity to go along and see Wicked for myself last week – and to discover why this musical had crossed the USA from San Francisco to Broadway and then over the Atlantic to London in 2006. There must be a reason why Wicked is so popular and it has to be more than the underpinning of the 1939 Judy Garland film and L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

As soon as the curtain was raised, I was enraptured. The almost familiar sight of the monkeys and the introduction of Glinda (the good witch) made me feel at ease. But it was the songs that grabbed me from the start and didn’t let me go throughout.

Modern musicals can be risky and quite devastating if the songs don’t hit the right note. Why else are producers looking to music from established pop and rock acts, if not for the security of a ready-made audience?

The thing is that Wicked does pull it off and in spades. The story is also a real delight. I had no idea of what to expect and I’m not going to ruin anyone’s first time experience with a list of spoilers. But I will say that if you are a fan of the wonderful world of Oz, you will not be disappointed. The performances are spellbinding. Louise Dearman as Elphaba (the bad witch) and Gina Beck as the good witch demonstrate such powerful voices, they manage to pull off the weight of their characters without a hitch.

So if you are looking for a Christmas theatre trip or an escape to something magical – and of course, if you love musicals – I can’t recommend Wicked enough!

My Wicked tickets were a gift from lastminute.com – Thank you so much guys! x

I started the week by checking out Jeremy Reed at Chelsea Theatre as part of their SACRED Season.

On Wednesday, I listened to David Byrne of Talking Heads fame in conversation with Matthew Herbert aka Doctor Rockit/Radio Boy/Wishmountain amongst other muso identities. The first question put to this duo was ‘Do we have enough music?’ The evening was an opportunity to indulge in a discussion about the state of today’s music industry, which was fascinating.

I attended a cocktail-making masterclass at Mahiki. But beforehand I sipped a couple of cocktails from the bar, including this Wiki Tiki delight. Yummy!

I finally managed to enjoy Sophie’s free breakfast offer this weekend, which ends on 4th November 2012. A tip: get there early because not only does it get very busy but the steak and chips breakfast also goes very quickly.

Spotted at Burlington Arcade: Pudsey in Theo Fennell’s window. Have you seen their limited edition bracelets for BBC Children In Need?

One of my fave documentaries is Banksy’s Exit Through The Gift Shop and I’m wondering if this is a piece of work by Space Invader in Soho. Anyone know?

Who, in Chelsea, hasn’t spotted the parrot man yet?

I love being a member of the V&A. Not only can you just walk into an exhibition by simply showing your membership card but you can also pop in over and over again, if you enjoyed the exhibition that much.

The Hollywood Costume exhibition was heaving on Saturday – and I’m keen to return. There’s plenty to take in and with the crowds, it wasn’t easy to read all the placards which contribute largely to the meaning of the costumes.

The Gourmet Burger Kitchen tomato sauce container always makes me smile. I love it. Yesterday, I grabbed a Classic Burger from the O2 branch whilst discovering that GBK are also still serving the Windsor Burger, which I wholly recommend.

Last night was Muse’s gig, which was amazing!! Laser lights, stunning visuals and rockstar performances – I wanted to see it all over again as it came to an end. Definitely going to see them again!

I took this photo whilst walking across Hungerford Bridge yesterday and as I watched a similar view whilst watching Skyfall earlier today, it made me feel lucky to be a Londoner. Urban paradise. 😉

SACRED is back for another season at the Chelsea Theatre and on Monday night I went along to experience Jeremy Reed’s poetry reading.

But this was not just one man in a performance space reciting his poetry, which incidentally has been championed by the likes of Bjork, Seamus Heaney and J.G. Ballard – as well as Pete Doherty.

Reed performed with a musician called Itchy Ear whose style is electro. And with enthralling visuals being projected on the backdrop, what I assumed would be a simple recital turned out to be a captivating multimedia experience.

Official Press Photo

The poetry was moving and explored the lives of individuals Reed once knew, including Francis Bacon. And one of the poems involved music from Marc Almond who Reed has collaborated with on his recent publication, Piccadilly Bongo.

This year’s SACRED season is running for a longer period than usual – until February 2013 to be precise. So there is still plenty of opportunity to witness contemporary theatre that enjoys pushing the boundaries on the King’s Road.

It’s a wonderful experience to be able to step into a space and be forced to abandon expectations. Your imagination and emotions are allowed to flow unhindered as a result. That’s what happened on Monday night.

www.chelseatheatre.org.uk

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