Judith Adams

Guardian Blog: April 2008

April 2008

(see Lady Purple project)

“with the technology at their fingertips, answers and images can be conjured by theatre makers immediately during the rehearsal or devising process, sound can be fed directly into the ears of the audiences in pieces such as Small Metal Objects or Judith Adams’ Ghost or Clickwind.

“…But we’ve come a very long way from the first faltering steps taken by ambitious young companies such as Fecund 15 or so years ago, to the point when earlier this year Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer of Fifty Nine Productions – who have contributed brilliant work to Katie Mitchell’s Waves and Attempts on her Life and the projection design for Warhorse – were made the National Theatre’s youngest ever associates. In July some of the multimedia techniques explored in Waves will be further developed by Fifty Nine for Mitchell’s latest piece …some trace of her, inspired by Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.

“From what I’ve seen of it so far, Fifty-Nine’s contributions to the productions on which they collaborate, whether it is in Black Watch or the adaptation of the cartoon Alex, are integral to the production and always in service of it. But I keep seeing productions in which it appears as if playing with the technologies is the prime interest of the theatre-makers, rather than the show itself.”

Blog Entries

Comment No. 1059660
April 20 10:37

(aka Judith Adams of Clickwind and Ghost – and currently exploring a rehearsal/performance score with Fifty-Nine Productions to show/tell the story of Angela Carter’s Lady Purple)

It feels to me as though it isn’t so much technology itself to blame for its disjointed relationship to many productions, as the minds of those producers and directors who compartmentalise – the better to control – all elements of live performance creation and staging.

Too often, new media artists are called in like decorators to slap paper over the walls of a house already designed and built (all too often from pre-fabricatied, and so moribund, blueprints). As usual, theatre has been grindingly slow to embrace change. Other art forms have already bent, beaten, twisted, encouraged and challenged new media to grow organically, empathetically and creatively.

Theatre alone does not seem to see the thrill and beauty of incorporating all elements in the plans for construction from the outset: space, text, visuals, technology (“For the Art Itself is Nature”), sound – even audience, ideally. Rehearsals instead take place behind sacred closed doors, letting the next influence in under strict, staged rules of guarded defensiveness.

Mitchell’s decision to virtually co-direct and re-think as well as rehearse Waves WITH the possibilities of new media, in the light of Fifty-Nine’s (Leo Warner’s) video daring and vision, was what earned it the accolade of seeming “like a new art form”. Likewise groundbreaking is most of what the National is doing at the moment, brilliantly, under Tom Morris and Nick Hytner: engaging all its artists at once in the mix of finding a voice for each project. Strangely, it’s the old avant guard who now who seem to be most self-protective about directorial control and unchanging styles of production.

You only get to new art forms by letting go and stepping off cliffs.

(Fifty-Nine, however, are also able to perform video sleights of hand so magical that no one sees it’s video – as frustrating sometimes for them as doubtless is the telling fact that there are no prestigious awards yet for video design in the theatre world).

Interestingly, the Arts Council seems currently quite interested in cliff-leaping and moving away from the conventional making of shows to the old bums on seats marching tune of R&D, Making, Showing. They have currently funded myself, 59, dancers and puppeteers to try and uncover a language/text/score for Lady Purple – where there’s no dialogue.

A fabulous step into space for a playwright.

All together now……..let’s evolve.

Comment No. 1059721
April 20 12:23

excllent points Timis. Our ‘Looking for JJ’ show that Lyn mentioned was built online and in fact the design team from the off included av/lx/sound and 3D scenographer from the start of the project who could work together to produce the best positions and design for the images/text/lights/ to work cohesively right from the initial meeting. The bolting on of a video projection is not enough. The whole design and creative process needs to work together.

Comment No. 1059780
April 20 14:11

re “we don’t burn lime in a box downstage centre anymore”

– I have to admit, guiltily, that I quite fancy this end of the spectrum too, having always longed to end a show with fireworks and burning down the house – both of which happen in the Angela Carter story we’re working on.

A one-performance only conflagration: so easy to market – so hard to sell to funders.

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