Sexual Perversity in Chicago
By David Mamet
(Tour February - March 2013)
Living Pictures 6th production marked the next stage of our exploration into process. With David Mamet's play we focused on the techniques of Sandford Meisner.
Having been trained in the techniques of Sanford Meisner by Scott Williams (Impulse Theatre Company) and Kate Maravan (a pupil of Scott's) we were excited to try out his techniques with text and see what we discovered and, as with Diary of a Madman, we wanted to try it out in front of an audience. David Mamet felt a perfect playwright to start with because he had trained with Meisner and William Epsom whilst training to be an actor.
We had some changes in personnel over the course of organising the project. Nora Wardell (Directors Acting Project Manager) joined first as an Associate Director on the project and was then asked to be 'the Director' after the second week of rehearsals. We had some very good and insightful input from Scott Williams regarding the Meisner technique, the use of 'Needs' and his very knowledgeable understanding of Mamet. Morwenna Rowe, our dialect coach, added more than just 'how it sounds' to the work and did some really great work with the body. We decided to perform the play in the round because we wanted to create an intimate space that almost felt voyeuristic as the actors changed into their clothes and had a 'wank' right next to audience members.
By focusing on the techniques of Sanford Meisner (by no means exhaustive) we felt that the techniques were really useful in getting the actors to listen, respond truthfully and be in the moment with their acting partners. The attention on your partner that Meisner stresses is useful for any actor and in any genre we would suggest. There are still certain aspects of Meisner's work we would challenge, but genuinely feel there is more to gain from his work then there is to disagree with.
Some reviews of the piece:
"Almost four decades on, Mamet's play is as fresh and relevant as ever - and, if you're really honest, you will leave the theatre feeling some empathy." ****
- Karen Price, Wales on Line
Read more: Wales Online
"Living Pictures delivers an enclosed, scabrous, scintillating revisit to the Chicago and Lake Michigan Shore of 1976. Living Pictures provides an opportunity to see how a master of theatre craft makes it work."
- Adam Somerset, Theatre in Wales
Read more: Theatre in Wales
"The speed and intensity of the action on stage enthrals the audience to the end of the performance. Mamet's take on the human mating game could have been a dated period piece. But it's not. Instead it shows that despite changes in fashion and music, socially, cultural attitudes towards dating and mating haven't changed since the 70's."
- Julie Bainbridge, Wales Arts Review
Read more: Wales Arts Review
"A Funny and painful dig at the fantasies and disdain of the contemporary sexual game"
- The New York Times
Danny meets Deborah, they like other, the move in together...
Danny and Deborah separate...
Set in 70s Chicago, Mamet's highly acclaimed dark comedy looks at relationships between friends and their failing attempts when searching for a mate.
"You're trying to understand women and I'm confusing you with information...what are you feeling? Tell me what you're feeling. Jerk."
- Deborah from Sexual Perversity in Chicago
Sexual Perversity in Chicago is part of a series of 'Process Plays' in which we explore the techniques of Sanford Meisner.
Contains strong language
|Nora Wardell||Associate Director|
|Elen Bowman||Consultant Director|
|Scott William||Meisner Expert|
|Morwenna Rowe||Voice Coach|
|Robert and Elen Bowman||Producers|
|6 - 9 February||Sherman Cymru, Cardiff||www.shermancymru.co.uk||029 2064 6900|
|20 February||Torch Theatre, Milford Haven||www.torchtheatre.co.uk||01646 695 267|
|22 February||Aberystwyth Arts Centre||www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk||01970 62 32 32|
|27 February||Pontardawe Arts Centre||www.nptartsandents.co.uk||01792 863 722|
|4 - 5 March||Galeri, Caernarfon||www.galericaernarfon.com/theatre||01286 685 222|
|7 March||Y Ffwrnes, Llanelli||www.carmarthenshiretheatres.co.uk||0845 226 3510|
"The Finest American Playwright of his generation"
- Sunday Times
Sexual Perversity in Chicago by Mamet
Robert and Claire
Images form the production
Diary of a Madman
From the short story by Nikolai Gogol
Living Pictures and Cegin Productions
Living Pictures 5th production marked the beginning of their exploration into process. For this project we wanted to focus on the techniques of Michael Chekhov.
Robbie and Sinead first met at a Michael Chekhov workshop in Galway and from there Sinead started teaching the techniques for the Living Pictures Directors Acting Workshops. In July 2010, both Robbie and Sinead with three others spent two weeks exploring the techniques of Michael Chekhov using the text of Diary of a Madman. From there it seemed an ideal opportunity to really take some time to get to grips with the technique and test them out in a performance situation.
Our training has ostensibly been in Stanislavsky and Robbie was keen to see how Michael Chekhov's work mirrored Stanislavsky's and how it deviated from it. In the end, we found a lot of common ground. What we discovered on this project will be posted shortly as we begin to document processes and how they work in the rehearsal room and what happens when you add the audience.
The show was Directed by Sinéad Rushe (Olivier Award nominee) and performed by Robert Bowman (Sherman Cymru, Bristol Old Vic, RSC).
It ran from Thursday 6 - Saturday 8 October, 8pm (Saturday Matinee 2pm) at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff and performed for two nights at the Halliwell Theatre in Carmarthen on the 12th and 13th of October.
There was a Post Show Talk on Friday 7 October with the Director and Actor.
We hope to tour the show in 2012.
What may seem like a simple, one-man performance is powered by an incredibly strong backstage chorus of people and ideas. Director Sinéad Rushe, who was nominated for an Olivier award for last year's Out of Time, prioritised the Michael Chekhov technique throughout the work's development, a decision which clearly has a great influence over the resulting performance. This school of acting priorities a 'psycho-physical' approach and is heavily motivated by the impulses, gestures and imagination of the actors. In Robert Bowman, Rushe has found an actor who complements this method perfectly. The use of such a dynamic technique allows Bowman to introduce new nuances to Poprishchin's character, nuances which seem to exist in a complex opposition to the words he utters.
Amelia Forsbrook - Buzz Magazine
Robert Bowman perfectly encapsulates a range of emotions as we watch him unravel before our eyes and head deeper and deeper into a fantasy world. While it may now be almost 200 years old, the story, which will resonate with so many, remains timeless. Directed by Olivier Award nominee Sinead Rush - Harrowing but gripping stuff.
Karen Price - Western Mail
This project is supported with a grant from Arts Council Wales and Cegin Productions.
This project is funded by Arts Council Wales
Image & Design: Kirsten McTernan
Miss Julie was Living Pictures fourth production. The company commissioned a new tranlsation by Ragna Weisteen. The translation gave the play a fresh and lived in quality that was easy to work with. Also, with Ragna being a part of rehearsals, we were able to ask questions and fashion the language to suit the Welsh rhythms and phraseology. Sian Summers was able to add welsh language phrases into the text working with Ragna.
The play was worked on over a period of two years, rehearsing for a few days at at time. We've been trying to develop a 'Slow - Cook' method of rehearsal at Living Pictures. This has some obvious benefits... allowing actors and director and other creatives to 'think' about the play in a more relaxed and, to our thinking, organic way. The pitfalls were, on this project, that the gaps between working on it were too long. So, sometimes when we came back to the play we were almost starting from scratch.
The production had a mixed cast in terms of what each did for their 'normal jobs' in the theatre. Rhydian Jones, who played Jean, was the only 'real' actor in it. Ragna Weisteen, who played Miss Julie, works primarily as a director and runs her own theatre company in Sweden and Sian Summers, who played Christine, has been a director, actor, theatre manager and currently is Literary Manager for Sherman Cymru. The idea behind this casting was to see how peoples' experience within theatre enabled or got in the way of their work as actors. It was a fruitful and insightful process. The play was well received and we toured to various venues in Wales which included Studio spaces and National Trust properties. We also had a choir made up of students from University of Wales, Trinity St David's with a musical score by John Quirk.
****This stunning adaptation by Welsh company Living Pictures Productions skillfully distorts a monumental and timeless piece of modern theatre, pushing it back to the foundations of drama through the incorporation of a haunting Greek chorus while simultaneously rendering it specific to a modern welsh audience.
Amelia Forsbrook | Theatre Review
The clarity of the telling of this tragic story was one of the fine achievements in Robert Bowman's taut and interesting production of this iconic play. Another was John Quirk's melodious and dramatic score perfectly sung by the Chorus of Students from Trinity College University whose continued presence surrounding the action as the play enfolded also intensified the atmosphere.
Michael Kelligan | Theatre in Wales
***Rhydian Jones's absolutely compelling performance as Jean, the socially aspirational footman determined to lie and cheat his way to power whatever the cost, and Sian Summers's staunch, impassive, seen-it-all-before Christine, who embodies the play's shaky moral core...
Weisteen as Julie captures the character's intensity as it flickers from vulnerable to majestic and back again...
Elisabeth Mahoney | Guardian
This project was funded by Arts Council Wales
Free from Sorrow
Free from Sorrow was a new play by Robin Hooper, part of the Capital Offences Season at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London. It played at the Tristan Bates Theatre from October 4th to 30th 2004 and was produced in association with The Actors Centre and Roscoe Productions.
Robert Bowman (Director)
Gregg Shoulder (Designer)
Prema Mehta (Lighting Designer)
Simon Allen (Composer)
Rebecca Fifefield (Assistant Director)
Noam Shmuel (Student Assistant Director)
Roscoe Productions (Producer)
Cast: Jon Foster, Mike Goodenough, Simon Meacock, Anthony Naylor, Owen Oakeshott and Joan Oliver
"Robin Hooper has written a dark play shot through with humour, anger and tenderness. A beautifully, quiet play packed with humanistic power."
The Play explored the very difficult subject of paedophilia and questioned how we, as a society, deal with this emotive subject. The company had the support and advice from such people as Tink Palmer from Stop it Now, Jon Silverman - authour and former BBC Home Affairs Correspondent and Donald Findlater from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation - all of whom attended and particpated in a post show discussion we held at the Tristan Bates during the run.
"The cast is one of the finest ensembles to be seen on the London Fringe"
"Challenging Drama... bloated with tension"
"If you want to see stunning acting in a superbly crafted play then get yourself to the Tristan Bates Theatre to see Free from Sorrow."
On Line Review
Free From Sorrow
by Franz Xaver Kroetz (new translation by David Schneider)
Pilot: December 2002, Tristan Bates Theatre, London
Production: Spring 2003 at the Arcola Theatre (London), followed by UK tour to The Drum (Plymouth Theatre Royal), Bristol Old Vic
Studio, Ustinov Studio (Bath Theatre Royal) and Chapter Arts Centre (Cardiff).
Director: Elen Bowman (Pilot and Production)
Designer: Soutra Gilmour (Pilot and Production)
Lighting Designer: Ben Ormerod (Pilot)
Lighting Designer: Emma Chapman (Production)
Composer/Performer: Simon Allen (Pilot and Production)
Cast: Robert Bowman & Sandy McDade (pilot)
Robert Bowman & Elizabeth Hurran (production)
The Nest was produced over a longer production period to create a hyper-realistic, multi-media world without props. Demanding a high level of imaginative skills from both actors and audience, every object the company used in the production was imaginary, including a baby that walked and talked. The production was accompanied live by Composer Simon Allen with film shot by Huw Walters projected onto the back wall of Soutra Gilmour's multi-purpose set.
This project was supported with Grants from The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, The RSC Fringe Fund, individual donations and was produced in association with the Arcola Theatre.
Reviews for The Nest:
Independent Review - Best Play's Section
Time Out - Critic's Choice
"This is gripping stuff...the mix of live music and film beautifully complements the action...it all works a treat."
Time Out - Madeleine North
"A searching production...with poetic force."
Metro Life - Stephen Brown
"Simon Allen's atmospheric, live on stage music and the utterly focused performances of Bowman and Hurran are the quality touches in Elen Bowman's winning production...the Arcola Theatre has a fresh hit on its hands"
The Evening Standard - Fiona Mountford
"Robert Bowman and Elizabeth Hurran deliver delicate performances in which everything is expressed."
The Times - Sam Marlowe
"Perfection...proves that the dynamic of the theatre art form is unbeatable."
Latest Reviews - Michael Kelligan
by Euripides (new translation by Robert Cannon)
Dates: September - October 2000, Theatro Technis, London
Directors: Robert & Elen Bowman
Designer: Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones
Lighting Designer: Ben Ormerod
Composer: Simon Allen
Andromache was the company's first production performed for four weeks at Theatro Technis with a multi-ethnic cast. The design was based on a Greco/Asian world researched by Designer Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, with the final sand and wood set including a specially commissioned statue by British born Greek Artist Petros. Simon Allen composed a music/sound score for the production using instruments from Africa, India and Thailand.
This production was supported by the Hellenic Foundation and individual donations.
Reviews for Andromache:
Living Pictures present an "inventive, atmospheric and evocative piece"
Living Pictures have "an intensity that impressively resurrects the polemical voice of the playwright.' The play is 'imaginatively staged with cinematic visuals and an epic score."