INTERVIEW: Jonathan Burrows (Burrows & Fargion)

Interview

Choreographer Jonathon Burrows speaks to The Prickle about a new Burrows & Fargion double bill at Sadler’s Wells: Rewriting (2019), and Science Fiction (2021).

– Who are your inspirations?

I think the interesting thing is how many different, overlapping and constantly changing inspirations people have, which reflects the ways in which culture is always about the work of the many, rather than a few select individuals. And I love how the things you love don’t have to make sense together. I love dub reggae sound system culture, but I also play English folk music.

– You and composer Matteo Fargion been collaborators for thirty years; how have you managed to work together all this time?

I think Matteo is a very patient person, but also we don’t have many meetings and that seems to help.

– Burrows & Fargion pieces straddle the line between dance, music, performance art and comedy. How would you describe a typical audience member?

We have three philosophies about audience, which have kept us going over the years. The first is, “Whoever comes is the right person”. The second is, “How the audience sit is how we should sit”. And the third is, “Equal together under the same roof”. When these ideas work, people spontaneously seem to walk onstage at the end, to look at our scores and talk. And then you find out there’s no typical audience member at all.

– What’s next for Burrows & Fargion?

We don’t really make plans for the future, but rather just try to keep going with our practice, and all the parts of the practice are important, including performing, teaching, talking, writing and so on. For twenty years we’ve had no office and no regular funding, and we share all aspects of the work and pay equally. We like it that way, as it means we don’t have to make any promises about what we might or might not manage to do.

Burrows & Fargion Rewriting and Science Fiction plays at Sadler’s Wells 5 – 6 May 2022.

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REFLECTIONS | Berlin, Bar Jeder Vernunft

Recommended

Jack Woodhead’s new show Reflections is bruising, wounding cabaret in all its rabid, raucous splendour. After committing a murder – matricide – reflecting is Jack’s coping mechanism, a spectacular and intimate form of PTSD. Jack’s shimmering and darting reflections move with streamline precision towards redemption through loss of memory. In his own words, Jack searches “far and wide” for his forgotten inner child. He must remember what is forgotten, in order to forget what he remembers.

But did Jack murder his mother? Perhaps he’s just a little drunk, just a little lonely, sipping a tipple while sitting in a moth-eaten armchair in a cold flat in a dark windswept city no one has heard of. Perhaps he lives a life of quiet desperation that reaches sublime heights that no one will ever know.

Reflections is life seen through a peephole, magnified and whispered through art and alcohol. It shows how life can slap you around and you may just slap it back. It shows imagination as a corrective and rampart to reality. But though reality bites back, the siren call of the forgotten inner child, lured to the surface by alcohol, trauma, or simply by childlike wonder, can provide solace.

Somewhere between Beethoven and burlesque, with his band of four, Jack Woodhead manages to negotiate a musical metamorphosis from concert pianist to cabaret star. His dramatic make-up is only surpassed by his eccentric stage outfits. Flashy and provocative in nail varnish, leather, fur and sequins, he moves elegantly and sleekly across the stage. His performance is lightning fast, sharp as a razor and completely wacky.

Next playing 25 April and 13 June 2022 at Bar Jeder Vernunft, Berlin.

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INTERVIEW | Anna Ferrer, Magalí Sare & Manel Fortià

Interview

The Prickle spoke to Balearic singer and multi-instrumentalist Anna Ferrer, alongside Catalan jazz duo Magalí Sare & Manel Fortià. They will be performing at The Pheasantry in London on 5-6 April, as part of Spotlight on Catalan Culture – the UK’s largest festival of Catalan arts, music and culture taking place across the UK March – June 2022.

– What does the Spotlight on Catalan Culture festival mean to you?

FORTIÀ: It is a great opportunity that allows us to show what kind of music we do outside Catalonia and how the audience reacts to it.

SARE: I love the fact that a festival like this exists. It’s a very cool way for locals to discover new music and to create new bonds between these cultures.

– How about audience members who can’t speak Catalan, and are totally new to Catalan music and culture; do you think they will still have a good time?

SARE: Of course they will! And we will also explain the songs during the concert.

FERRER: The reality of what one wants to say, if it’s authentic and comes from the heart, can come through via other, much more intangible ways.

– Many people say music is universal: do you think that’s true?

FERRER: Humanity is universal, the feeling of belonging to a cultural net is universal… and music is one of the first forms of expression of a community. Without a doubt, yes: music is universal.

FORTIÀ: Sometimes I have played with musicians that didn’t speak the same language as me and it worked well. It is the magic part of the music.

– Fish and chips or roast dinner?

FERRER: Fish and chips.

SARE: Roast dinner.

FORTIÀ: Mediterranean food.

Book online for 5-6 April 2022 at Pizza Express Live.

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THE CONVERT | London, Above The Stag

Theatre - Recommended

Following a sell-out run as part of Above The Stag’s CONTACT Season in 2021, The Convert will return for a full production from June 2022. Chillingly informed by real techniques that are used against LGBTQ+ people, Ben Kavanagh’s imaginative and timely play pitches nightmarish forces against our unerasable, shining humanity.

Alix and Marcus have been brought to The Facility to be “corrected”. If their condition is cured they may leave and return to the society. But if they fail, they will be sent to the Other Place, away from their friends and family forever. Failure is not an option, but in this confounding institution, where they only have each other, the greatest threat to their success is their own love.

“The play got such a huge reaction last year, and I am absolutely delighted that it’s returning,” says Kavanagh, about the original run at the same theatre in 2021. “It’s exciting to be able to develop the play for a full production and to have it published alongside the run so that the powerful subject matter may reach a larger audience.”

Gene David Kirk returns to direct, and is excited about the new possibilities for the show. “We have the opportunity to deliver a highly entertaining and theatrical evening of great writing alongside the highest production values. I couldn’t be more excited.”

Audience members are invited to book tickets for the play’s gala night on Wednesday 15 June 2022: tickets are £20 and include a glass of bubbly, a signed copy of the newly published playscript, and a Q&A with the cast and creatives.

Playing 8 June – 3 July 2022 at Above The Stag, the UK’s LGBT+ theatre.

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DISNEY IN CONCERT: MAGICAL MUSIC FROM THE MOVIES | Hong Kong, KITEC Star Hall

Recommended

This summer, the renowned Hong Kong Symphonic Winds Symphony Orchestra are inviting us to experience some of the most beloved Disney scores of all time, with Disney in Concert: Magical Music from the Movies. Joined by four powerhouse vocalists, and conducted by Fung Ka Hing, the orchestra play alongside perfectly synchronized projected video clips from iconic Disney films, so the whole family can enjoy.

Audiences will be treated to Disney’s most iconic scores and songs, including for the Oscar-winning animated features The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and The Lion King (1994). Live action features like Mary Poppins (1964) and the swashbuckling Pirates of the Caribbean film series are also set to be particular crowdpleasers.

This is without doubt the perfect pick for a youngster’s first concert. Founded in 1987, The Hong Kong Symphonic Winds (HKSW) is the first amateur band in Hong Kong with considerable size and structure, devoted to promoting music education in the community. The standard is extremely high, with a number of top professional players among the ranks.

These family-friendly concerts are always extremely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment. There is no better way to fall in love with the magic of a live orchestra than through the magic of Disney.

Presentation licensed by Disney Concerts © All rights reserved

Book online now for 31 July and 1 August 2021.

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YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN | Hong Kong, HKAPA, Drama Theatre

Recommended

Based on Charles M. Schulz iconic comic strip about Snoopy and the “Peanuts” gang, this 1967 musical revue created by Clark Gesner and the original company has won a slew of awards over the years, including a successful run on Broadway. This is just a graduate showcase for the School of Drama Bachelor of Fine Arts students, but boy, you’d never know it: it plays like a professional version.

Despite the quintessentially American trappings with Thanksgiving and little league baseball, it is amazing how this musical takes on new meaning in Hong Kong. With a new Cantonese translation (Wong Cho-lam, Li Wing-hong), there are lots of fun updates like a reference to “Baby Shark” instead of “Frère Jacques”. Even accidentally, in Cantonese, Snoopy’s imaginary fight against “The Red Baron” takes on connotations of the fight against a “red” communist regime. But really, the central themes of school-bred anxiety in children, and “Give me a child till he’s seven, and I will show you the man”, are universal.

Though ostensibly a cast of “actors who sing”, as opposed to musical theatre students, the quality of the vocal ensemble, not to mention electrifying choreography (Tony Wong), is already professional standard.

The cartoon, cardboard-cutout set (Siu Jiou) is a huge part of the action, with a row of portholes serving as everything from traffic lights to Charlie Brown’s (Kwong Oon-hin) anxiety, shown through massive eyes shifting left and right. Get a ticket to the next graduate showcase; you might just be seeing the stars of tomorrow.

Follow the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts online.

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JEW…ISH 2021 | London, King’s Head Theatre

Theatre - Recommended

***

“It was a total nightmare from beginning to end. The worst thing is, I think I learned guilt from him. Can you learn guilt?”

***

Unleash the Llama are proud to present the long awaited return of the five-star sell-out “hilarious”, Jew…ish, filmed in high definition by the award-winning Shoot Media as part of King’s Head Theatre’s digital on demand season, Plays On Film.

The twisted millennial romcom that absolutely no-one asked for, Jew…ish struck a resounding chord with audiences in smash-hit live runs in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe and was nominated for an Offies OFFCOMM award.

TJ (Edie Newman) and Max (Saul Boyer) are in love; with polyamory, substance-abuse on the Portobello Road and sexually-charged debates about Israel-Palestine. Occasionally even with each other. There’s just one thing: Max is Jewish. TJ isn’t.

Watch as these mortal ‘frenemies’ navigate the cultural divide – amid death, pegging, and two millennia of inherited trauma – in this laugh-out-loud two-hander which asks the ultimate question: is it ever OK to get back with your ex?

***

Available to watch on demand via the King’s Head Theatre new streaming service, KHTV, Thursday 15 April 2021 – Wednesday 5 May 2021.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL | London, Dominion Theatre

Recommended

The critically acclaimed concert production of Alan Menken’s A Christmas Carol (1994), with the London Musical Theatre Orchestra (LMTO), is back on the West End for the fourth year. A soaring Broadway score, the fantastic sounds of a 24-piece LMTO, and a brilliant all-star cast: ​A Christmas Carol ​is perfect family entertainment for the holiday season.

Dickens’ classic festive tale has a brilliant cast this year, starring actor and comedian Brian Conley​ (​9 to 5: The Musical​) as Ebenezer Scrooge, who leads an ensemble cast of over fifty, including ​Jacqueline Jossa​ (EastEnders​), Busted’s ​Matt Willis​, ​Lucie Jones (Waitress​) and ​Sandra Marvin​ (Waitress, Hairspray​).

The creative team could not be more glittering, either. Music is by ​Alan Menken​ (Disney’s ​The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast), with lyrics by Lynne Ahrens​ (​Ragtime, Anastasia​), and a book by ​Mike Ockrent​ (​Crazy For You​). Fresh from directing LMTO’s Candide​, Shaun Kerrison directs, with musical staging by ​Tim Jackson. Sound design is by ​Nick Lidster​ for Autograph, design is by ​Dora Schweitzer​, lighting design is by ​Mike Robertson​, and projection design is by ​George Reeve.

In line with the latest government guidelines, ​the Dominion Theatre is partnered with the Society of London Theatre’s “​See it Safely”​ campaign. The production will be COVID secure, with measures including face masks, distanced seating, temperature checking, contactless ticketing, social distancing, cashless payment, enhanced cleaning, and sanitiser stations.

Playing in the West End 7 December 2020 to 2 January 2021 at the Dominion Theatre.

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HK BALLET SEASON 2020/2021 | Hong Kong

Recommended


Don Quixote | Li Lin and Hong Kong Ballet Dancers | Photographer: Conrad Dy-Liacco | Courtesy of Hong Kong Ballet

We could not be more thrilled that Hong Kong Ballet, Asia’s premier ballet company, is pirouetting, glissading and jetéing back into live performance starting 30 October 2020.

This new season is bursting with classics, including: Don Quixote (30 October 2020); The Nutcracker (18 December 2020); Artistic Director Septime Webre’s Ballet Classics for Children: Cinderella, featuring a stripped-down and narrated version of Prokofiev’s score (30 January 2021); Balanchine’s Jewels (21 May 2021); and Septime Webre’s new Romeo + Juliet, with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta on Prokofiev’s iconic score (18 June 2021).

In addition, Hong Kong Ballet will be running turn(it)out festival for two weeks at West Kowloon Cultural District’s Freespace, kicking off with an opening gala on 29 January 2021. The Vivaldi / Handel Project follows on 5 February 2021, along with a ton of interactive, family-friendly activities and events throughout the two weeks.

Artistic Director Septime Webre says that the central theme for the new season is, quite simply, love: “The word “love” infuses absolutely everything at Hong Kong Ballet: love of being a dance artist, and love for our amazing city, which has seen and experienced so much this past year. Love fuels the dedicated work we do, and drives the innovative ways we engage with the community. Love is not about getting – it’s about giving.” Well, we certainly cannot wait to celebrate this love for ballet in Hong Kong again.

Read Hong Kong Ballet’s new brochure and get booking.

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SWIM COLLECTIVE: INSTANT HAPPINESS IMPROV JAZZ NIGHT | Hong Kong, Eaton HK, Terrible Baby

Recommended

How do you like your improv jazz? Completely mental? Then SWIM Collective is for you. It’s unusual for contemporary free jazz to feature a vocalist; three vocalists even moreso. But this is the ensemble’s strength and USP: a highly theatrical, human sound. An accompanying band of harp, keyboard, cello, percussion and electronics allows for a diverse range of expression.

Some of the vocal improvisation is straight out of the Toronto Blessings of the 1990s, a flurry of impassioned tongues, over dissonant spreads of expressionist harp and piano cluster-chords. Sometimes the singers merely coo gently; sometimes they are silent.

One of the most fascinating things about these through-composed, non-repeating, freely improvised pieces, is how the style slowly (sometimes imperceptibly) weaves in and out of free-rhythm effects and anchored, rhythmic, tonal grooves. The whole ensemble are really listening to each other and giving each other space, never trying to dominate the sound. Sometimes this leads to moments of complete silence.

Audience participation is highly encouraged. Everyone is given some tissue paper, and a lucky few are given some spoons. Being conducted in and out, at different volume levels, the sound of paper rustling and spoons clinking en masse is quite mesmerising, and the chance to be involved feels pretty special.

Follow SWIM Collective on Facebook.

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