Theatre is an ineherntly voyeuristic medium. Since the Snowden revelations, there have been a series of shows that have focused on the ethics and extent of contemporary surveillance. At the same time, activists challenging surveillence culture have often used forms of performance, both offline and online, to challenge Big Brother's ever widening gasp.
Robert Icke, Prof. Tim Jordan, Duncan Macmillan and Dr. Dan Mcquillan discuss the ways in which theatre and other forms of performance have been used to explore the nature of contemporary surveillance culture.
Chaired by Dr. Bthaj Ajana.
Sarah Grochala talks about Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan's adaptation of 1984. The talk was given at the Nam Paik June Art Center in Seoul, South Korea. The talk is in English and translated into Korean. English translation starts at 4.45 minutes.
Saturday 22 November 2014
1pm – 5pm
Anatomy Lecture Theatre, King's College London
People often refer to the idea that we are living in 1984, but to what extent is that a valid observation about contemporary society?
In 2013, Headlong collaborated with the Cultural Institute’s at King's on a project to explore the relationship between digital technology and live performance. This partnership resulted in the development of an app, 1984 Digital Double, which explores the nature of contemporary surveillance.
Headlong and the Cultural Institute at King's invite you to join a group of digital experts and innovative artists for a day of platform panels exploring a wide range of questions about digital technology, live performance and surveillance.
Speakers include: Dr Btihaj Ajana (King’s), Dr Claudia Aradau (King’s), Tony Bunyan (Statewatch), Professor Alex Callinicos (King’s), Robert Delamere (Digital Theatre), Jeremy Herrin (Headlong), Robert Icke (Co-adaptor and co-director of 1984), Professor Tim Jordan (Sussex University), Dawn King (Playwright), Duncan Macmillan (Co-adaptor and co-director of 1984), Dr Dan Mcquillan (Goldsmiths College), Tassos Stevens (Coney), Simon Vans-Colier, Oliver Cole and Spiros Andreou (TOR Project).
Saturday 15 February 2014
Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s radical new adaptation of 1984 explores how Orwell’s novel is as applicable to the here and now as it ever was.
Join the creators of 1984 and a panel of theatre experts to explore how the process of creating a truly successful adaptation is often a very different thing from delivering the version people expect.
Frank Wedekind wasn’t really a playwright. Of course that makes no sense, since he wrote a whole bunch of plays, but it does have a meaning and it is possibly helpful to remember when staging Spring Awakening.
Anton Chekhov at his home in Melikhovo with his dachshund Khina in 1897
Dan Rebellato’s 2010 play, Chekhov in Hell, opens with a quotation from Anton Chekhov, the Russian playwright and author who died in 1904. He says ‘you ask me what life is. That’s like asking what a carrot is. A carrot is a carrot, and there’s nothing more to know’. Like Chekhov’s characters, Rebellato’s characters to search for an appropriate way to fill their lives, an action often left unfulfilled. In The Seagull, Semyon asks Masha, ‘Why do you always wear black?’ to which she replies, ‘I’m in mourning for my life’.
The Moscow Art Theatre at the end of 19th century.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Konstantin Stanislavski and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko set about to reform Russian theatre. Their aim was to create a home for naturalism, in order to challenge melodrama’s dominance of theatre in Russia. They were heavily influenced by the work of other naturalist theatre companies in Europe, including André Antoine’s Théâtre Libre in Paris and the Meiningen Company in Germany. Naturalism may dominate our stages in the twenty-first century and seem like the most conventional of theatrical forms, but at the end of the nineteenth century it was seen as a highly radical approach to making theatre. As Stanislavksi recalls: ‘Our programme was revolutionary, we rebelled against the old way of acting, against affectation and false pathos, against declamation and bohemian exaggeration, against bad conventionality of production and sets, against the star system which ruined the ensemble and against the whole spirit of performance and the insignificance of the repertory.’
Anton Chekhov reading his play The Seagull to thecompany of the Moscow Art Theatre
When Anton Chekhov’s classic The Seagull premiered on 17 October 1896 in St. Petersburg at the Alexandrinsky Theatre, it was a complete failure both in the audience’s, the critics’ and Chekhov’s own opinion. The audience’s angry response to the play was both immediate and intense. They were hissing the performance by the end of the first act. They loudly criticised the play for its lack of action and recognisable characters. The actress playing Nina, Vera Kommissarzhevsky, whose work Chekhov had praised highly in rehearsals, was so terrified by the audience’s response that she lost her voice. How then did a play initially booed by its audience become, as Konstantin Rudnitsky argues, ‘one of the greatest events in the history of Russian theatre and one of the greatest new developments in the history of world drama’?
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born in Taganrog, Russia in 1860.He was the third child of six to Pavel Egorovich Chekhov, a grocer. His grandfather had been a serf, who had managed to buy his family’s freedom in 1841. During his childhood, the young Chekhov and his siblings worked in the family store and studied at their local school.
The rehearsed reading gives the clearest sense yet of bodies on a stage – people – trying to do things to and get things from one another, rather than a series of talking heads showing off verbally. I do the voices a lot when I'm writing which gets you so far but hearing good actors, really good actors – as we had for the rehearsed reading of The Seagull – allows the play to emerge much more clearly. And this is terrifically exciting.