The Works – advice banned but taken on Pointless, pointy thing, Bulgarian mystery and Sexy sixty
A rather ‘schoolmistressy’ introduction by the compere, who demanded that we switch OFF our mobiles and that we should NOT offer advice, only comments! In fact what these events need are more mobiles on (on silent), as Twitter, through event hashtags, amplifies and spreads the word like no other medium. Witness the fact that less than five rows were full and this was a free event. Also, it became clear that advice was precisely what was needed and gratefully received.
Pointless, pointy thing
First up, a man in a rather ill-cut suit, holding a pointy, metal stick with a bulb and a wire at one end who subjected us to a sterile and dull ‘soundscape’ (always a perilous word). His opening PowerPoint (yes Powerpoint has entered the art world) was too wordy and too fast to read, and it wasn’t clear what he was doing with his pointy stick, or the relationship between his ‘conducting’ and what we were hearing. I hope he heeds the ADVICE of audience, who pointed these things out in no short order. I wasn’t neither moved nor convinced. As a comment on the financial crash (as intended) I thought it was pointless.
Second up were a man and woman who laid the stage out with flowers and gave a feisty performance of Bulgarian being translated (and cleverly mistranslated) punctuated by some Dionysian dancing, to a song that seemed to be the equivalent of John Lee Hookers’ BOOM BOOM BOOM. This was all rather wonderful, intriguing and well-crafted. I would pay to see this.
Third up was a solo performer, Liz, a 60 year old woman who challenged the audience with her pronouncements, songs, film and subversive dances. The women in the audience loved her and rightly. This was different, courageous political and meaningful. As an older man, it made me think of how differently the sexuality of older, male performers is portrayed. The Rolling Stones are to headline Glastonbury with Jagger and Richards hitting 70 and Watts a stately 71! Iggy Pop has been on this tack for years. What makes it difficult for women is a set of expectations, not least from women themselves – look at the images in women-only magazines. The audience gave some great insights as to how they felt about the work – all positive. Weaknesses? I think the Hamlet skull was a bit too literal – but that’s a quibble.
This is a good format –to try snippets from full works out on an audience – get feedback and move on. That’s why the compere’s rather aloof advice about not giving advice (sic) was a problem. Advice is good. There were some really knowledgeable people in the audience, not least experienced performers, promoters and directors, who gave oodles of brilliant advice. Let’s just call it feedback.