I felt supported, held, heard, validated...like in intense therapy. says Jane, in Where it Hurts about the NHS.
As early as 1991, the Independent's Paul Taylor wrote on inspirational Jean Findlay's controversial hit, 'Big Tease' on sex workers: "as each girl danced, beautiful black-and-white photographs of her face were flashed up on a screen and, in voice-over, she told us about her life. A striking juxtaposition of human being and sex object."
Theatre Absolute's Julia Negus, like freelancer writer, and filmmaker, Naomi Seekings, photographers Lala Vula, Jean Findlay, also linguists, Sally Hampson, Jane Lumsden, later on Arts Council Scotland, formed spontaneously an impassioned community of bold individuals.
It seems further proof that the Grassmarket Project was taking a road less travelled than other European, or particularly British theatre companies. Jean in Paris in the early Nineties had introduced Jean Luc Godard to Jeremy Weller who had encouraged them to continue on their path. Social intervention and stoic faith in a common task, were at the very root in fact of Jean Paul Sartre and Godard's littérature engagée. Like their highly considered work, Jean had also spent a year out in Krakow, with Jeremy, as students of Tadeusz Kantor, also showing interest in Grotowski and Tarkovsky. Counter to Western theatre Polish directors were easy with small audiences who felt theatre should purify and cleanse rather than be light entertainment..The first works grappled with existential alienation and emerged out of a long, drawn out critical appreciation of and engaging with victims of circumstance and social alienation, and then practical rehearsals, spread over months, during which actors, victims as one would profoundly alter their mutual understanding and relationship, as Irving Wardle astutely observed in the Independent. Also Paul Taylor observes:
"the lives of the dispossessed are best conveyed if they themselves are brought on- stage to tell their own stories. The results (which are the most memorable feature of each Festival) are routinely accused of pandering to liberal voyeurism and of exploiting the performers. One journalist this week added the charge of philistinism, on the grounds that some of Weller's pronouncements (though not his work) constitute an implicit slur on art, a throwback to a puritan equation of play-acting and untruth."
Actually women in theatre emerged from the 1990s, from Kay Adshead, to Lisa Goldman, who worked with Battersea Arts Centre, under Tom Morris, who had taken over from Jude Kelly. Lisa who had also lived in East Berlin went on to run the Soho theatre and write an everywo/man guide to experimental writing. She also suggested Belarus Free Theatre be supported, which became a strong force for reform having offices at the Young Vic.
There is a flippancy in Paul Taylor's review of Jean's play that seemingly marks the sexist journalism of the Nineties, as her play about female students, making money for their studies at university caused a wave and was highly regarded :
"The Big Tease was presented in a sleazy disco and, speaking as someone whose neck-tie was given an erection, fellated and then made to fall limp by a stripper (or so I'm told by my Daily Telegraph colleague; my own eyes were fixed on a trembling notebook), I have to admit there were too many moments in this piece where the line between being a spectactor of a show about strippers and being a voyeuristic participant in a strip-show became somewhat blurred...
"The best parts were the simplest: as each girl danced, beautiful black-and-white photographs of her face were flashed up on a screen and, in voice-over, she told us about her life. A striking juxtaposition of human being and sex object." On 'Mad', accused of possibly exploiting the women he seemingly does justice, stating: "the women re-live psychological and familial crises have a brave, seering immediacy and a generosity of revelation that only enhance the women's dignity." Or to quote Wardle, Mad teaches as "much about yourself as other people" as a drama of "present attachments".
"What turns this into a piercing theatrical event, rather than a psychodrama session, is the fact that their re-enactment of the past forges a drama of present-tense attachments - particularly between the clinical victims and the 'normal' actors."
Perhaps having a grandmother who had been a writer who was revered by Edwin Muir for her simplicity, and disinterest in society ambition meant that Jean, by inheritance was free of any of the intellectual dandyism, or duplicity that dogs much of what is on in the West End. Her triology of plays from 1994 onward,were about "war imagined, remembered and threatened", as she put it in 'Three Plays'. The depth of emotion prefigures much of what Sarah Kane would go on to write. Jean came back from a nomination for the Prudential Awards, to tell that praise had been heaped on the troupe by others, saying they "wished" they "could have done work like that." With her introducing a younger Jeremy to Paris, as she was fluent in the language, it occurs that she also facilitated a major revolutionary coup in what was a fairly staid Edinburgh Festival. in fact Irving Wardle commented of Glad, the first homeless play, that "it made the official Festival like museum pieces." What occurred to bring such diverse theatremakers together? The big idea emerged from those who simply wanted a better society, after the Falklands, which was followed by Iraq which saw mass protests, and eventual massacres in Srebrenica and Falluja.In our wake a Parisian Big Idea for homeless theatre evolved, www.ratten07.de with homeless in Berlin.
As Naomi, David Benson, actor, writer and voice artist, or Jonathan Hodges show we can also be mindful of diverse, distant skies, as in fact each of our worlds is only an illusion, we either endorse, negotiate or radically alter by contemplation. The earliest work of Grassmarket Project was so wondered at that we received invitations to work with native Australians on Ayers Rock, as well as invited to work with Europe's coolest theatre, Volksbuhne, Berlin, where it could be justly said the Sixties citizen theatre began. While the National Theatre in London encouraged Grassmarket to perform there, the stage refused to involve the homeless under Waterloo Bridge. In Eastern Europe, particularly Berlin's theatre had been since the late Eighteenth Century, with Gerhart Hauptmann's a place where ordinary people were encouraged to watch and reflect on their own lives, with in 1889 'Before Sunrise'. "The Weavers' even put women on stage as he showed their uprising against industrialised dehumanisation. A foreunner to the 'Matchgirls' by Bill Owen, known as Compo, in the Last of the Summer Wine, but also an astute social critic, looking back to 1888.
The absurdist cruelty of self-reflection is summed up by Wardle as well: "Weller's self-lacerating paradox: using the theatre to release these buried voices while simultaneously scorning the exploitation of human lives in the trivial interest of theatrical entertainment."
Alexandra Kremakova has won many awards and her music is on soundcloud. She composes and teaches. Music of Debbie Wiseman offered
Diversity was inbuilt, actors also from East, Norway, and Denmark. Ksenia Agarkova's father is a Lithuanian Russian speaking actor. Building on links from Berlin have worked well together with a vision of theatre as a way to increase understanding and using organic stories about nature as basis. Fringe First Awards, Academy of Arts and Prudential
Rangoli sand art, camera and producing are the best ways of spreading our message..by Jayson Singh
Where there is poverty there is no sense of self: the word art involves a faith in one's power to explore what is artificial but maybe would be better fun if it explored why kitsch is affordable to all and means more as a result and spreads understanding .