by guest critic Maeve Campbell
On entering a seven-hour long production one might ask the following questions: will I understand the plot, will I be able to sit through it for the duration and will it be worth the plane journey, holiday costs and copious amounts of pilsner consumed over the weekend? The answers are no and no but, to the last question, a resounding yes. Directed by the controversial Frank Castorf, famously ousted as leader of the Volksbühne theatre after nearly fifteen years of service, this production is his swan-song. Castorf’s previous work has been described as ‘deliberately incoherent’, and this Faust does not disappoint.
by guest writer Steven Strauss
New York’s Lincoln Center invited UK-based Oily Cart to be one of three theatres from outside the US to perform at the Big Umbrella Festival, the first of its kind dedicated to such audiences.
In addition to Oily Cart’s Light Show, the one-month festival includes other one-off events, symposiums, and professional development opportunities for artists, arts professionals, presenters, and audience members interested in expanding the theatrical spotlight on this shamefully under-served community.
Simply put, major theatres around the world should really be funding such festivals all the time. To find out more about the process of bringing the Big Umbrella Festival to life, we interviewed Peg Schuler-Armstrong, the Director of Programming and Production for Lincoln Center Education, the organizers of the festival.
by Laura Kressly
There aren’t many writers who conjure stories the way Isley Lynn can. Her innate instinct for achingly human characters in situations rarely – if ever – seen on stage sets her well apart from most young playwrights. Her oeuvre includes Skin a Cat, a hilarious and necessary story of a young woman navigating dating and sex whilst unable to be vaginally penetrated, and Tether, the journey of a blind woman and her guide training for a marathon. These intimate stories leave a huge impact when set on stage, their echoes long reverberating with her audiences.
In world of Harvey Weinsteins, Bill Cosbys, MRAs and other own-brand misogynists in and out of the arts, A mini-festival of feminist theatre should be a soothing balm to the wounds wrought by male privilege. It is, in part. Though it’s great that feminist work is getting much-needed exposure, Maiden Speech varies in quality and lacks true intersectionality.
by guest critic Rebecca JS Nice
The Underbelly Festival Southbank is like a mini Edinburgh Festival where visitors cocoon between pop up bars, fake grass, fairy lights and giant flowerpots have a sense of exclusivity, as they wonder through to enjoy the bars as much as the shows. This vibe will stay all summer and I will no doubt be returning to sip Pimm’s in the sun whether I have show tickets or not. But having seen both currently billed shows twice now, in Edinburgh and London, their quality, popularity and longevity cannot be argued.
Some questions for women:
Is it ok to want to be fucked?
Does wanting this oppose feminism?
Is it ok to want to be hit in bed? Will this man expect that from other women?
Is it ok to fantasise about being raped? What does this mean if I’ve been raped?
Louise Orwin is asking big questions about female sexuality and desire, but she doesn’t have the answers. There are no definitive answers anyway, just individual experiences. To make Oh Yes Oh No, she interviewed dozens of women around the country and found some disturbing patterns – about 90% of the women she met had been raped. Many of them developed rape fantasies. Women struggled to reconcile their feminism with wanting men to dominate them in bed.
Part of the reason I wanted to come to Buzzcut is that I find it hard to write about live art. I don’t dislike it, far from it – I have a broad but uninformed appreciation of it. But my theatrical home is built from Shakespeare, text-based narratives and the great American playwrights. I’m no Megan Vaughan or Rosie Curtis – I see performance art every now and again, but not nearly enough as I should. So the goal is to see a lot of live art, and write about. The range in styles and approaches is vast and the festival draws live artists from around the country, so it’s a great place to experience this form of performance.