London International Festival of Theatre

Feature in Issue 7-3 | Autumn 1995

This year’s LIFT was once again truly international with companies and artists appearing from all corners of the globe, and impressive in the diversity of the theatre presented.

From Japan, choreographer Saburo Teshigawara brought his company Karas with their latest piece NOIJECT to the South Bank. Mark Cunnington reviewed it for Total Theatre, “After a remarkably simple and striking opening, the piece roller coastered through a deafening sound track of grinding noise that explored the relationship between noise and object. The performers shifted from being cold, faceless and metallic’ to being bees and birds flitting in seemingly random movements. Yet it was soon clear that nothing was random, that under a seemingly random existence there is an ever present order, a rhythm to life. Although there were some weaker less focused moments to the show, as Teshigawara commented in the programme ‘a theatre seat is not a safety zone’, and in this case one’s conceptions and feelings towards performance art were blown away.”

Also at the South Bank Mark saw the Balinese dance theatre group. The Seka Barong of Singapadu. “The forms of the discipline of Barong dancing are not concerned with the battle between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ but rather the constantly changing relationship between the left side and the benign right side of the Barong - the lion spirit. Performed entirely in Balinese it was at times difficult to follow, but the performers were so enticing and the music so magical one could not help but become wholly absorbed in the evening’s events.”

French circus group Cirque Plume brought TOILES to Highbury Fields. Jonathan Megaw writes, “Instead of the driving anarchic energy of Archaos, Cirque Plume’s TOILES bases itself on the common artistic representation of Circus as the Symbol of Everyman’s Struggle. Traditional elements were mixed up together - sometimes transformed, sometimes made ambiguous, sometimes given new resonance as with Jorg Muller’s ‘Juggling’ of suspended ‘tubular bells’. TOILES is something different. Judge for yourself whether it is the herald of a new age, but applaud loudly its ambitions and achievements.”

Gary Steven’s SAMPLER at the ICA was concerned with a New Age of rather different variety, that of virtual reality. Five performers discovered that a particular movement created a sound, and mapped out a world constructed to the logic of these movement, sound relationships. Ray Newe reports, “Watching this artificial world develop through the symbiosis of performer and sound engineer until it finally collapses under the weight of it’s own absurd logic was intriguing, but at ninety plus minutes was too long. No doubt by shrinking in scale a touch the show would grow in stature, Also worth a mention were the powerful ensemble pieces of the Market Theatre in THE SUIT, presented at the Tricycle Theatre, a four-hander that perfectly married mime, text, and song: Volksbuhne Theatre, Berlin whose large cast transformed a specially constructed theatre in an old brewery on Three Mills Island into an intensely suppressing East

German hostel waiting room in MURX DEN EUROPAER - EIN PATRIOTSCHER ABEND; and the Romanian, National Theatre of Craiova in PHAEDRA at Riverside Studios, with their 20-odd strong chorus who performed rarely seen seamless choric theatre.

This article in the magazine

Issue 7-3
p. 21