Archive for the 'theatre' Category

The Theatre

August 3rd, 2010

Shakespeare souvenir from The Theatre

Any history buffs or theatre buffs out there might already know that two years ago some of the ruins of the first ever theatre in London were uncovered during an archeological investigation by the Museum of London.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to join one of the last invite only tours of the ruins of The Theatre and an introduction to the plans of the new theatre that will be built in it’s place for the Tower Theatre Company; I got more than just a little wrapped up in the excitement of what they are doing and how poetic it is.

The Theatre was built in 1576 by James Burbage, located in Shoreditch which at the time was just north of the City of London and thus able to escape the persecution of the authorities who back then weren’t too fond of theatre players.

This was back in a time when people would go out for dinner or a drink and might happen upon some entertainment, not in a time when they would intentionally go out and pay for entertainment in advance.

A huge shift in how people thought about entertainment, and the venue that saw some of the first works of William Shakespeare both as an actor and as a playwright. It was not to last though as the landlord would not renew the lease and thus The Theatre was taken apart and transported where they then were used in the construction of the famous Globe Theatre.

One of life’s wonders then that the ruins of London’s first theatre should be found after being lost for so long, only to be found whilst the Tower Theatre Company were hunting for a new premises of their own having lost the lease on their existing premises.

The Tower Theatre Company were founded in 1932 and are a non-profit performing and acting group that not only present up to 18 productions on a yearly basis.

Unfortunately due to funding limitations the archeological dig at the ruins  of The Theatre close in two weeks time, but what has been found will be preserved in situ and the new theatre being built in it’s place will be gracefully showcasing the ruins.

The new theatre is will be the first permanent home for the Tower Theatre Company and will also house rehearsal spaces, costume storage, meeting rooms and already has big plans for community outreach in terms of education and theatre coaching.

The groups appeal to raise money for the construction of the theatre has made good progress but still has £3,100,000 to raise.

I’m really hoping that our company is going to get involved in the fund raising efforts, especially after the compelling introduction we received from Tower Theatre chairman Jeff Kelly and a chilling rendition of The Seven Ages of Man by Sir Ian McKellen.

If you’re interested in finding out more or contributing to the fund raising efforts:

Jump (Yegam Theatre)

November 10th, 2009

Jump (Yegam Theatre)

It was my birthday this weekend (not quite zimmer frame age); surprisingly I’d planned ahead earlier last week and figured that I would be pretty hungover on the Sunday following birthday drinks and thus it would be good to have some light entertainment, so I booked tickets to see Jump at the Peacock Theatre.

The advertisements all over the London Underground at the moment tout Jump as a Korean martial arts / dance / sit-com. If you just saw ‘sit-com’ and let out a little ‘huh?’ then you can join the club!

It’s a bit easy to spoil the plot with this one, so if you’re spoiler averse then look away now.

The show is based around a Korean family who are passionate about martial arts, grandfather is the strict boss of the family, mum and dad are always fighting with each other, uncle is the clown of the family and a drunk,  daughter is a bit of a hussy and son-in-law has severe split personalities!

Two unsuspecting burglars stumble into the family home and get a lot more than they expected when they try to take on this not so defenceless family!

Kids will love this show, but in terms of plot there isn’t really all that much depth there for adults.

That said, the martial arts will leave most people amazed with some of the moves literally looking like the cast have had to bend space time to achieve them, that or broken the rules of gravity.

Balé de Rua at Barbican

May 23rd, 2009

Bale De Rau (Image by Eric Deniset & Stéphane Kerrad)

Back at the Barbican so soon you say? I’m just as surprised to be honest; with the weather starting to cheer up there must be a lot more drive building up to get outdoors and get all cultural!

After dragging Gary to Star Trek last night it seemed only fair that we go to something a bit more to his liking; Balé de Rua is billed as a mix between hip-hop, African dance, samba and capoeira performed by an adrenalin pumped cast of 15 guys and 1 girl from Brazil.

The show is completely energy packed from the very beginning, completely living up to it’s description with backing percussion with Brazilian vibes throughout, and a showcase of a fusion of different styles of dance with a strong underlying theme telling the story of Brazil.

I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, but there were some really amazing bits of choreography, especially the dance off with popping and locking and lots of other hip-hop inspired moves.

Strong faves have to be the use of an orange haze light moved around on the stage to highlight and silhouette the female dancer during one of the pieces, and the somewhat harder to describe piece where all of the dancers are tied to each other by black ribbon wrapped around different parts of their bodies, each dancing whilst the whole circle of dancers contracts, expands and moves around the stage… that was really impressive.

By the end of the show the entire audience was on their feet, most of them dancing away and clapping along (I think we both have sore hands), some even singing along!

Thoroughly recommend getting a taste of what Brazil has to offer, go see it before the show closes at the Barbican on the 31st May.

Kronos Quartet / Wu Man at Barbican

May 11th, 2009

Kronos Quartet / Wu Man (Image credits: Barbican)

I often see events taking place at the Barbican that perk my interest but I usually don’t go as far as buying tickets because I’m never really sure if it’ll actually be my kind of thing or not, not exactly very experimental I know but I’m sure we’re all relatively guilty of not just trying new things every now and then.

Anyway, that’s why we have friends to invite us to things we wouldn’t normally go to, right?

The Barbican isn’t exactly my favourite venue with their strict policy on no food or drink being taken into the theatres, or the fact that they really don’t like you being even remotely late (or maybe that was just Owen nagging?), but it does have a pretty water garden outside at least.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Wu Man and the Kronos Quartet, I’m not heavily into classical music but I am very interested in Chinese and Oriental culture as a whole, including their traditional music which I’ve occasionally heard from various street artists over the years whilst making tracks around London.

There were two performances, the first was Yuanlin Chen – Tribe Amongst Mountains which was supposedly a world premiere, and at first I really didn’t take well to it. There seem to be a lot of contradicting sounds in Chinese inspired music rather than harmonious sounds, and it ended up sounding a bit like late night cat orgies in the car park outside my flat.

Things did improve later in the first performance with Wu Man playing the traditional Chinese instrument, the Pipa, which was really quite impressive and she had such an array of sounds that it could produce from it. I think I now want a Pipa myself, though perhaps I should stick to learning one instrument at a time rather than hoping to be anywhere near as good as people that have practised for most of their life!

The second performance of the evening was Tun Dan – Ghost Opera, in which the movements of the performers are meant to reflect the back and forth between spiritual realms. The piece uses the sounds of water, metal, paper and rock throughout, with combinations of some of these, such as metal being s
craped to produce a strong tone, then placed in water to change the sound.

I was pretty impressed with the general structure of the Ghost Opera and the way all of the performers played off of each other, but there were still a few cat-orgy moments involved.

Fairly confident that I won’t be going to see any other classical concerts for a while, but I’d happily go to see Wu Man perform with her Pipa again in the future as it’s obvious that she is brimming with talent.