Viewing entries tagged
opinion

Comment

Good Visibility, Clear Spells

Ah hello Bazzers. We’ve missed you these past few weeks - we hope you are keeping well and busy - because we are too! (yes yes we’ve just done that annoying dinner party question where you ask someone something that’s a lead into a humblebrag...don’t judge us) And because we’re not quite ready give up on summer yet (the branches of the nearest tree are tapping at Baz HQ windows incessantly today but we’re still wearing sunglasses inside) we thought our sunny attitude would suit our latest favourite trend in the arts - that of representation and conscious inclusivity (yes we did coin that, you’re welcome, we’re not just a pretty face)

As the hazy summer of the Edinburgh Festival starts to clear, and again, the range of talent, imagination and excellence of what (interesting and smart) happenings at the Edinburgh Festival, hopefully doesn’t stay there - news has returned of fabulously funny jokes, new talents, exciting dance performances and new ways of presenting work. And we’ve been thrilled to note all done by a new wave of acting, dancing and comedic talent from ridiculously able disabled performers, and D/deaf actors - unrepresented artists signalling the latest change in the arts - making the invisible, visible.

Of course, the  likes of Graeae, a theatre company running for years doing great work both onstage and off to promote a new generation of performers, constantly pushing the envelope and making great strides for decades. However, it seems Edinburgh Festival was all about representation this year: and not just for visability’s sake - also to approach old text in new ways - take for example a relaxed performance of Samuel Beckett’s seminal ‘Not I’ - a 20 minute, speed of thought monologue first performed by Billie Whitelaw in 1973, as she was suspended in absolute darkness above the stage, with only her fastly moving mouth visible. In a nod to inclusivity - this new performance still features an excellent actress in the role, but this time also with a sign language interpreter and performer including the audience and making the piece a different animal altogether - receiving rave reviews and earning a spot in the Battersea Arts Centre listings later this year.

Fantastic dreamplay producer Liz Counsell also recently produced and worked on the latest Deaf Men Dancing show - a brilliant showcase of dancing, talent, representation and LGBT awareness - again to great reviews. And the brilliant Reasons To Be Cheerful - a musical poised to strike later this year, inspired by Ian Dury’s story has won great audiences and acclaim. And interesting fact: Baz trainee director Stephen Lloyd is attached to this brilliant project, double win. More theatre companies, grants and opportunities for d/Deaf and disabled performers are becoming available every year - with Graeae launching writing opportunities too - marking a real commitment for inclusivity in every element of the arts. DaDa Festival grants, the Accessible Edinburgh Awards this year polled visitors to shows and awarded venues, artists and theatre companies alike for their commitment to reaching new audiences with a fresh wave of talent in everything from comedy, music, dance and theatre. And with the ever popular Brighton Fringe Fest making brilliant promises for their accessibility and programme too, these are truly exciting times to be making art.

To that end, we ourselves had the pleasure to meet D/deaf and disabled artists for a casting call for our next big project and left it more excited than ever to not only present our work, but also to introduce a new year of performers we’ll be so proud to call Bazzers and join the team - with the arts under threat it’s now more important than ever that we push forward new agendas, send the money where it needs to go, and appeal to new audiences and the next performers of tomorrow. Come and join the party, the weather’s clearing up, sunny skies ahead. We can’t wait to get started!

Here just to show that anything can be possible, deaf model, winner of America’s Next Top Model and advocate Nyle DiMarco, mastering the cha cha on America’s answer to Strictly Come Dancing - all done with hard work, rehearsal, and counting despite not being able to hear a beat. Amazing. Oh and fair warning, the shirt comes undone around the 0.13 mark. We say warning….you're welcome.

Love, Baz

xx

 

 

 

Comment

Comment

She Stoops, She Conquers, She Scores - Women in Theatre

Hello Bazzers!

Early Edwardian Actress Lucy Weston who graced the stage - in fine fashions. 

Early Edwardian Actress Lucy Weston who graced the stage - in fine fashions. 

Oh how we’ve missed you- we’re back and brought some Spring with us! In fields of Daffs, hot cross buns (yes, fields of buns, think about it...it  would be so soft and tasty) and bunny wabbits - we thought we might spring forward like the BST clocks we are and take a wide look about how it’s going with women in theatre as a whole.

As you do.

So get your buns out the oven (steady) and let us review shall we? Current political climate notwithstanding, things are looking a tad brighter than they have been for a while - high profile events such as Tonic Theatre’s Lucy Kerbel bringing out an excellent book, All Change Please using hard fact and testimony to provide all the material you’d ever need to lay a convincing case of ‘be better to us’ to the jury and the arts industry as a whole. Tamsin Greig has won everyone over as Malvolia at the National in Twelth Night and it’s just been announced that Josette Simon will be playing Cleopatra in a hotly anticipated production of Anthony and Cleopatra at the RSC (great article here about the powerful woman/whore dichotomy in the Guardian this week) https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/mar/21/josette-simon-cleopatra-rsc-shakespeare) Also, the ever brilliant Baz patron and our favourite Ceasar ever, Harriet Walter talked about her new book, and taking on the male canon in her inimitable style and to great critic acclaim in Brutus and Other Heroines.

So far so good? Well yes, but something goes up, something else must come down. Emma Rice’s well-documented run as artistic director of the Globe continues to make headlines, and it’s hard not to note that now, with one less female artistic director at the helm, there’s still very few running buildings in the UK. We are all for inclusivity, diversity and women in theatre as a whole, but it seems as if this is only just about stretching to the actors. We need more producers, directors, stage managers, artistic directors and soon. Goodness knows that once indoctrinated with a lack of diversity, opportunity, or even misogyny and racism, it becomes a new norm.

So what can we do about it?

Well. We here at Baz have a gorgeous team of women running the show - our trinity of founders are an impressive array of producers, writers, actors and practitioners - our producers, set designers trainee directors, even our blogger all share an x chromosome and it’s obviously at the top of our list when we look over actors we love for our productions - that, and obviously diversity. It’s been in our manifesto since day one And we are not alone in this - many theatre companies such as Kneehigh, Punchdrunk impress a difference on the theatre landscape in their casting and the landscape shifts a little more in the right direction.

But as ever, not all opportunities, or indeed all doors are open to the just off the University roll call producer/designer/director -but never fear, Baz is here - with a list of things to check out n do:

  • Tonic Theatre events - Go.To.These. It’s a great place where the shiny happy people go and of COURSE where great female-facing projects and books are launched that you already love and want to read cos you wouldn’t be reading this if not. Wink.

  • Women@Rada - A fantastic free initiative at RADA for female playwrights only - lovely nights where the next generation of female playwrights get to show some work - a fantastic platform for writer and performer alike.

  • Directors Programme at Young Vic - A fantastic long running directors training programme at the Young Vic - a programme all of it’s own kind that has brought much talent to the foreground. A wonderful initiative! 
  • Sphinx Theatre Company - Apart from programming some excellent female led theatre, this company regularly runs festivals, opportunities and is generally a great resource of stuff to do with women in theatre. Thumbs up.
  • Bechdel Theatre - So relevant it has it’s own test named after it - another behemoth of theme and concept led theatre, their latest project required recorded conversation between women for their latest piece. Inclusive, strident and outspoken. We dig it.

 

Apart from that - see it all! Go to the first nights, meet the people ,take the opportunity and the lead ...you never know where it will get you. And ahem, one other suggestion, if we may…

  • Baz Productions - C’mooon. We had to. PLUS we are really cool and love theatrical ladies so stick that in your pipe.

In all seriousness though, it is all in our hands - and sure this industry is a tough pill to swallow at times, and a main reason Baz exists is that we felt the situation was so dire we decided to step up and make it ourselves, but triumph comes out of adversity. Be the missing piece that fits into that slot. Nothing is achieved unless you open the door to it. We need to stick with each other and stand on each other’s shoulders. Now more than ever.

We’re rather good at this. Maybe we should sideline in life coaching?

There’s a stat floating around that states ‘Women speak up 75% less when they’re surrounded by men.’

*beats path to Destiny’s Child soundtrack*

We believe in you. Now get out an hustle!

Big Lady Love,

Baz xx

 

Comment

Comment

Location, Location, Location: Promenade's Place

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Car Park - Baz's dreamplay, 2016, Laura Moody being amazing on the Cello

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Car Park - Baz's dreamplay, 2016, Laura Moody being amazing on the Cello

Helloo again Bazzers, on this the eve of summer! Could it possibly be true that we are about to get...warm? The evenings are drawing out and it’s a lovely day to be outside - this is promenade weather - and for the uninitiated we ain’t talking about parasols and lace. No, we of course refer to theatre occurring in pub gardens, on roofs, underground train arches, as we found last summer at The Vaults - truly live, truly unpredictable, and truly vulnerable to plane noise, but hey you can’t have everything. We kid, we love those metal birds, who needs soundscapes? *rolls eyes but we love it* 

One of the main things that Baz’s manifesto set out to achieve from the start was accessible theatre, for all - we have massive respect for London’s rich theatre history and it’s theatres - the old and cherished and the new and bold. The only thing is that these beautiful, gold-embellished venues aren’t meant for throwing around paint in and climbing up curtains - the kind of crazy thing we are wont to do - exhibit A being a half-full bathtub being splashed around in every night at The Vaults, that kind of thing- therefore a lot of high profile theatre events tend to stay in the traditional realm, with lots of revivals. And that’s great- far from underestimating our rich theatre and playwriting history, we honour it, we hope, by moving the action to new and unexpected places.

In 2011, we performed Macbeth in a crypt in Holborn, in 2013 the entire Greek Myth canon in a single room in Shoreditch - for us, it’s about taking away as much as possible and seeing  what we can still work with. Great theatre companies like Punchdrunk take over full warehouses, and almost all of the then abandoned Battersea Arts Centre for their projects, marking, we feel, the first shift we felt in the industry away from seeing promenade, experimental theatre as gimmicky or worse, looked down upon. Our most recent production, a version of Strindberg’s dreamplay at the Vaults in London, moved our audience, from courtyard, to stairwell, theatre, to tunnell and beyond, on a scene by scene basis. The majority of our audiences didn’t bat an eyelid about being moved from space to space, sometimes able to sit, sometimes not - Bazzers unite - but those who were being introduced to us, seemed bemused, occasionally annoyed about the upheaval. For us, theatre is a group activity - it’s not sitting with your feet up and eating popcorn - in essence, we don’t want you to be too comfortable, all the time.
 

Er, take that last statement any way you want. We are experimental, after all and that is what we want you to do.

But what remains is the irksome idea that sitting down in a beautiful dark room that is adorned with cherubs is still the standard - Baz loves that stuff more than anyone else, but that’s partly why we made our manifesto in the first place. We of course don’t want to do a disservice to major theatres doing excellent and ground-breaking work, on and off west end - Lucy McCormick’s devilishly entertaining Triple Threat at the Soho is a definite pick - go forth and see it and then never forget it, really just try- but when a member of the Baz Team got to go to a piano recital just recently: where applause is restricted to between movements, coughing is a killing offense and the line between performer and audience has never been so clear: in status, in skill, in tone in such regimental fashion - makes us seem a bit moany over here in Theatreland. Sort it out, classical music concerts. But in all seriousness what do we, and other experimental theatre companies have to sacrifice in order to court the proscenium arch audiences and break through to the mainstream, you ask? Well thank you for asking, but we counter with maybe that it shouldn’t ever be mainstream-ised (is a word, shut up) and that we belong in the weird crowd - discovered by all you delightful weirdos (or Bazzers in this private circle *raises champagne glass*) as you perhaps tell your friends about this bonkers piece of theatre you saw, or you post it online….and maybe that’s the true future of experimental theatre: it’s not, by its nature, there to to earn a place in the prim and proper books of history - it’s meant to be a live, thrown against the wall, one time only event. Truly utopian in nature - anyone can do it! It can happen any place, any where - it’s groovy like that. Viva abandoned cark parks, real parks, fake parks with astroturf, roofs, underground stations, crypts and night clubs in the daytime, your front room - anywhere we can make theatre together... and let’s all arrange to meet back here to see the panto in December.

What do you know. Maybe there’s room for us all - even if you have to stand a little bit. Look at these people, they're loving it! Cheers!


Love,

Baz x

 

Comment

Comment

Objectification, your Honour: A Handy Guide To Censorship

Lady Gaga imitating art on The X Factor, 2012. Traditional or titillating? 

Lady Gaga imitating art on The X Factor, 2012. Traditional or titillating? 

As we enter day six of Happy international Women’s Bonanza...wait, what? It's only a day? Oh...OK. Anyway, we thought we might honour the 24 hours set aside for the outpouring of gratitude and instagram posts and hashtags such an event inspires, by appreciating how far we’ve come and confronting what we still need to do. So put down your bunting and ‘I Heart Women Today’ posters and let’s crack on shall we? (sarcastic? Us? Noooo….) we’re here to discuss one of the last taboos in theatre – nudity. Hold on to your drawers. (Or don’t. It’s a free country and also it flies in the face of this post, but we are all about your choice)

OK yes, we are being sarcastic, but for comic effect you see – of course it’s great to have the country simultaneously  fall over each other to cry the virtues of Woman: mother, sister, partner, wife…but what if that was everyday? Ah. The truth is we still have a long way to go. The war is not over – and the battleground is our bodies. In the years since censorship in the theatre was lifted, we’ve been, um, treated to many an arresting visual image – Edward Bond’s Saved featuring a notably disturbing and brave ending sequence in the 60s- censorship was only unofficially placed in 1968 - violence, the rise of immersive theatre, course language, all that good stuff - but this has also featured the human body.

You can’t post a nipple on instagram. On a woman. On a man it’s perfectly fine – you get multiple posts of glossy black and white shoots you could pick up from the newsagent shelf of the male torso in all it’s lightly dusted glory. When Daniel Radcliffe played the title role in Equus in 2007 there was many a salacious column inch dedicated to eye witness accounts- treating us, forgive us - but kind of like children.

“And then what happened?’

“He got his…thing out!”

We all have a body. We all make use of a body. So why not put it on the stage?

Battleground. Remember that?

Back in 2012 Sherlock actress Louise Brealey played Helen of Troy in a production of the Trojan Women, appearing onstage nude. Again, more comment from the papers, but a little less salacious this time: a taste of that tangy flavour of…was it, disapproval? She defended herself on twitter and wrote in a paper herself of how freeing it was, how confidence making, how real. And fantastic, we applaud her – for doing her job. That’s what was required of the role, and the director’s vision – she agreed, and she did it. For art and for the role she was playing. The comment was for….?

What we’re getting at here- the female body is so sexualized that a social media company views the human nipple not as a means by which to feed babies, but something to be censored, deemed inappropriate and just when we start to make headway, sit around the table – politics bashes down the door and we had all better take a seat. When Emma Watson posed for Vanity Fair just this week wearing a revealing top, the internet and it’s top agent Piers Morgan came for her as an actress, a role model, a feminist and a woman. When the rules are changing for everyone every day, what did we need? A man to gently face us in the right direction and point, with a saccharine smile to a handwritten sign that says “Feminism. 500 miles this way.” Sigh. Wouldn’t it be easier if nobody got naked at all, Bazzers? We went back to the Victorian times, no sex please we’re British, what hippy nonsense? Well, no. Because to Baz, theatre is challenging, difficult, confrontational, and ultimately about life. We have no interest in titillating audiences, and it’s true, no project of ours since we launched has featured any nudity- some underwear perhaps, but not to seem edgy. It’s quite difficult to make plain Y-Fronts look controversial, believe us– but being the free-thinking and brave Baz Broads we are, we aren’t ruling it out – just not for novelty’s sake, and not for the clicks. We stand by every creative decision we’ve made: from switching gender roles, confronting and visualizing disturbing themes, even throwing our audiences into total darkness - If we feel it suits our production and our vision then we own it.

So in conclusion your honour – we, women didn’t do it. The crimes against female representation has made the body a no-go zone. It has been compromised by the male gaze, the fashion dollar, the celebrity culture and the glossy magazine. We stand accused of being a target market your honour, where we lose out, giving a pound of flesh with no recompense.If and when we decide to feature any nudity of any gender - it will be with our aims and manifesto in mind - no red tape, no shock value and no publicity. Wish us luck.

Sigh. Anyway. What’s on instagram?

We joke. There are plenty of women, both in the arts and otherwise that are waking up to these disparities and doing excellent work. As we mentioned before, the highly attended Women’s March earlier this year brought the equal support of men and women. And even the most tepid and infuriating of comments under a video with a sensational headline are at least evenly spread with some level-headedness. Who knows? Maybe the wind’s about to change, and the real censorship can be lifted.

Hashtag boobs. If you’re comfortable with it.

Love,

Baz xx

 

Comment

Comment

You wait for one, and then three come along at once.

Shiny happy people calmly protecting women's rights in the Trafalgar Square sun

Shiny happy people calmly protecting women's rights in the Trafalgar Square sun

Hearty Hello, Bazians! How are you? We are feeling mighty fine with all this people power whizzing around like kinetic energy (something that may have been in our coffees this morning...sorry, we’re just excited) but It’s here and it’s really happening - people willing to stand up for what they believe in. And that makes us very happy at Baz HQ. So happy that we’re going to do some of our famed Baz Book Reccs to celebrate!

As we’ve talked about in previous blog posts - culture and art reflects society - at it’s basic level, that’s what it’s for - but it also challenges, highlights and even twists it: even our Dear Shakey of Stratford Upon Avon (we think it should be called that actually, more fitting) fabricated a few truths about King Richard much to the dead king’s annoyance (his winter of discontent lasted for centuries, poor bloke) but for the most part - theatre is a set and a stage we recognise, showing uncomfortable truths or reminding us of gross injustice.

The most interesting thing we’ve seen in the arts quarter is theatre companies and arts hubs calling for scripts or short pieces that defy Trump, the NHS, any given issue threatening to unsettle the globe’s equilibrium - with proceeds going directly to charities or to organisations threatened by governments. This past week we’ve seen three major global protests, with the Women’s March, the peaceful sit-ins at US Airports and Anti-Muslim ban rallies. These movements were announced sometimes within hours of the event and the numbers were ridiculous and astounding. And so hopeful. When we here at Baz have a tea break, we like to casually log on to the main page of the petition to ban Trump’s state visit to see just how many thousands it’s risen by - and if you want to add your name to the rising number, by all means, click here: http://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/171928

It’s impossible and quite crass to assume protestors are any particular type of person: we’ve seen families, children sitting on Dad’s shoulders at the Women’s March in Trafalgar Square, grandmothers pushed in wheelchairs pushed by their granddaughters in DC - all races, types, sizes, genders and it got Baz thinking that these should be the audiences that make up a theatre of tolerance, or freedom of speech and of fair representation. It hardly needs saying that the great classics of the theatre are not exclusively or even a little bit made by us: we import the arts as much as we do anything else and we should be proud of it. Support Muslim voices, talent artists, hell, support all cultures and all voices – show these men with suits and power that we are more eloquent, moving and effective then they could ever be.

Here then are some prime texts we here at Baz HQ recommend that stand the test of time and are fine reads in protest:

 The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, Bertolt Brecht – The godfather of politically themed, important theatre, this play, coming pretty recently off the interwar period and hot off the heels of WW2 satirises the rise of Hitler in Germany whilst making the darkly comic point of how and when he should have been stopped. Real, scruff ofthe neck theatre.

East Is East, Ayub Khan-Din - Though it lives on as a fantastic British Film, East is East was first a play, and a successful one too at that, showing the normalcy, the truth of what home is to this family settling in East London, and what makes up a British family today. Warm, funny and engaging, a standard of characters and plot that has ensured it lasts.

Taking Sides, Ronald Harwood- The true story of German conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler, who aligned himself with Hitler during the war, and the struggle between principles, safety, and art. Starkly honest – a great example of how exposing a truth in art doesn’t need to shame, it can simply explain and reverberate around an audience in understanding.

There’s so much, too many examples to mention: Women’s festivals, the Bechdel Test, plays in response to FGM, theatre companies like Tamasha, Talawa, theatre nights in theatres, studiosm and spaces that seek responses to these current events are growing in size and popularity – who knew? It’s cool to be informed, even cooler to speak up.

Last month, Paisley and pastel colours were in. This month, it’s protest - and my does it suit every single one of you.

See you at the next one, we’ll be the ones with placards, a baby bjorn and a hot thermos of tea. Let’s keep the party going.

Much love.

Baz x

Comment

Comment

Baz Productions here, signing off on 2016 –

Us too, kitty. Us too.

Us too, kitty. Us too.

As you may have heard, (or rather seen – you can’t hear an email…yet, remember that thought, 2016) we explained just what Baz had achieved this year in our most recent newsletter: from rehearsals to shows, workshops to Teach First sessions, 2016 felt like a really bumper year for the Baz Team. But really, we couldn’t have done it without you – our loyal Bazzers so glasses of sherry/cava/whiskey/Schloer up to you all, and let’s all toast with shortbread and compare flavours (if you don’t like the ones with strawberry in, we can’t talk)

So as a final post for the year, we’ll end as we mean to go on, with a spotlight – remember those? – posts we’ve gladly given over to the memory and inspiration brought about from our personal favourites – from Amy Winehouse to Ziggy Stardust, we tried to give an insight into our internal mood board: what wide range of disciplines inspired us, from dance, to photography,to music and to outstanding individuals. So what better way to wrap up the year, than for the company that brought you dreamplay, described by some as: ‘beautiful and bonkers, ‘free’ and ‘forcefully proficient’ (incidently, a pretty on the nose description of us after a few glasses of red) we thought we’d treat you to an Alternative Baz Christmas, full of tips, tricks and reccomendations worthy of the closing of a year that has us immersing ourselves in our own subconscious, Strindberg’s , Freud’s – the cast’s and those of the characters we made up. Pray for us.

Soundtrack:

The holiday season brings with it many things – the chance to catch up with family, get cosy by the fire with a loved one, all with good food and wine to keep you in that dozy, well-fed stupor of happiness….riiiight up to the point Noddy Holder shouts “IT’S CHRISTMAAAAAASS” directly into your lughole ruining your cosy eqilibrium/carving the turkey/or a meeting under the mistletoe. We’re sorry to demonise him like this, but honestly, we’d give anything to keep that roar from our door, so here’s a selection of alternative Christmas tracks:

Bobby Darin; basically anything by him. Even if it’s not Christmassy – hell if anyone canmake murder sound merry it’s him in ‘Mack The Knife’ – let his warm and full bodied voice accompany your post Christmas lunch sit down.

Nina Simone: Her entire discography is a feast of good music, passion, and sheer force of her will – a brilliant and important musician – and her debut album ‘Little Girl Blue’ is an absolute must. Though there is no mention of Christmas or the holiday season at all – this collection that includes the classic ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ ,the title track ending on an unexpected riff on a holiday Carol and it’s autumnal cover of a wrapped up Simone sitting on a park bench in frosty Central Park, another treat for your ears.

Funny Songs: Ben Folds is a serious musician guys….he really is – and it is proved by his foray into the festive Christmas spirit and his very NSFW offering of‘Bizarre Christmas Incident’ (we did warn you…it pops up on BBC 6 music a LOT, surprisingly) as well as this gem from one of our favourite comedies, Community where Childish Gambino himself raps about a Jehovah’s witness Christmas. 

Plaintive Christmas: If there’s no breaking your sour mood as we transition from the, frankly pile of poo 2016 was into the suspiciously-smelling-of-manure 2017, wallow with style as Chilly Gonzales (another of our faves and musical genius) provides ‘A Minor Christmas Medley’ where the simple act of transposing a key down to minor makes a startling difference to your favourite sing a long classics, making them oddly beautiful and haunting.  And finally, if you just want calm and serenity after aching muscles carrying shopping down he assault course of the high street, let George Winston’s instrumental album ‘December’ ease your shoulders back down from your ears.

Suitably relaxed, you’ll now want some entertainment and Baz has some thoughts there too…

Doctor Who: I know, I know, disappointingly mainstream but also a massive figure-puller, with regular numbers hitting the high millions, it’s become something of a national tradition. And hey, it’s not every mainstream show that has offered robot santas, time travel and deadly wi-fi is it? Cut us some slack.

Chicken Run: Controversial, we know, to choose the hen coop over Wensleydale and evil penguins, but there’s jut something about it coming on that heralds Christmas. We, however, never get misty eyed when the chickens manage to escape the farm. No, never.

A Fish Called Wanda: An odd choice of Christmas film, we admit, with no mention of Christmas, or of winter even, but if you’re year isn’t instantly saved by Kevin Kline narrowing his eyes and drawling “Oh, you English think you’re soooo superior, don’t you?” Well, we just don’t know you.

The Reith Lectures: The radio gets much maligned at Chistmastime, (especially as here is where Noddy is to be found…) but there’s a wealth of exellent programming, and music from BBC Radio 6 music, arts on BBC Radio three, the list is endless...not to mention the annual Reith lectures, managing every year to get some piece of interesting information past our whiskey and eggnog addled brains. Especially if it's like this, the year when they moved the lecture to the telly: 

Food:

What we’re all here for really isn’t it? The three Cs truly come out to play, Carbs, Chocolate and Carrots – or at least it does when you have a vegetarian Christmas. Oh yes. It can be done. You could cheat and get Quorn equivalents or you could do wintry vegetable salads, lasagna, melanzane parmigiana, flaky pastry olive and mushroom pie, rostie potatoes – the possibilities are endless and at this time of year, a change to give back a little without losing the quality or quantity is a tempting thought. More temptig than another slice of gateau though? We're just not sure. 

Whatever you decide to do over the holidays, be safe, be merry, be free and bonkers like us, and you won’t go far wrong. Happy Holidays you lovely Bazzers – wishing you health and happiness *heart eyes* and here's to 2017 - we've got a good feeling about this. 

 

yep.   

yep.

 

Love,

Baz xx

 

Comment

Comment

The French Discotheque and You (have more in common than you think)

Like most of you Bazzers, we here at Baz HQ are dismayed and a bit broken by Britain’s decision regarding the EU. Still. Apart from anything the cross-pollenisation of cultures, works, and talent from all over Europe will be sorely missed. From all other angles, political, economical or just purely human, a massive loss. But. We are sure you have had enough dissection and debate to last a lifetime, so here, let’s celebrate some of the best movers and shakers of our neighboring nations instead. Movement and dance are very important to Baz – keen as we are to provide experimental and challenging theatre, this does not limit itself to purely dialogue. Not by a long shot!

Like you, we were not expecting, on a soggy Friday evening to be transported by one performance on the Graham Norton Show. Enter Christine and The Queens  - your new jam, and no excuses. You’re putting this on your toast every morning from now on. Unrepentantly French, incredibly catchy, electronic dance, yes yes – but the dancing was like a play. There was a dialogue to her movements with her four male dancers, and clad in the exact same outfit, a uniform, even – this was a genderless presentation of what a music, art and theatre could be, all together. Post performance interview, she praised her choreographer responsible for “that great genderless energy” and her dancers for making her apparently no less awkward, in fact “I’m still awkward, but now with style” Us too, Christine, us too.

Such a synapse-firing performance got us thinking here at Baz HQ about movement and how important it is to Baz. Conversations without words, mirroring action, that strange other level of intimacy brought about by choreographed movement comes down to much more than arriving in the correct spot to catch your dance partner. Trusting your scene partner with a performance, with lines, is one thing, trusting them with your body is quite another and that’s what makes it so fascinating and vital to Baz. This piece, showcased in Wim Wenders' excellent tribute/documentary of  Pina's work couldn’t prove the point more:

An absolute hero of dance and a true visionary, her multi-talented, multi-cultural (ha, see how that worked out, almost as if we’re all on one planet and should learn to share hah…that’s the last of it, we promise) company of talented, free, ego-less dancers have placed such trust and faith and loyalty to her vision that it makes us here at Baz choke up a bit. Dance seems to be the perfect companion to the artistic project: as an impossibly cool French collective supporting equally cool French pop, or to showcase the discipline of the thing with Pina, or, as shown in last year’s Tate Modern celebration of Musee De La Danse, dancing among the most important framed works of the 20th century, not as decoration, but an art form in and of itself that has just as much to say.  If not more. And if the image of people from all corners of society and culture coming together under a massive disco ball to dance to music blasted through the speakers any which way you want is not Utopia, we don’t know what is.

Just gone 3:30 on a Tuesday? Feeling a bit self conscious? Sure, but why wait until the christmas party? eff it, let's dance, Jeff! THERE IS A MASSIVE DISCO BALL! 

Just gone 3:30 on a Tuesday? Feeling a bit self conscious? Sure, but why wait until the christmas party? eff it, let's dance, Jeff! THERE IS A MASSIVE DISCO BALL! 

Though our aim here at Baz is to bring something new to you, exciting and experimental – we are mainly seeking to show you the importance of the things we take for granted – bumping into someone into the street and apologizing, for example – dialogue and movement. Means next to nothing on a rainy day in May, but put it on stage it changes – lead them out of the theatre and have them watch it, choreographed on that rainy May day in the street, it changes yet again. Like Music, like dance, like art and like theatre, that division between artist and audience is always blurred. That’s why you might find Baz cast members doing anything from sitting on an audience member’s lap, or pulling them into the performance space to laugh derisively at someone else. Community. Inclusion. What we could do with right now.

We’ve all danced like loons in the club, right (Baz had the distinct pleasure in trying to replicate Christine and the Queens moves in a sweaty bar off Soho at Pride 2016 a few weekends ago) And we’ll never dance like these amazing so-and-sos that make up  the companies like the Michael Clark Company and DV8 who can recreate that free, sweaty and stuffy experience with style and realism, like actors onstage - the real experience, replicated. Like a good photograph, like a classic painting, like good writing, dance is vital and dancers capture that moment too, in the purest way. Plus those dancers move it most probably better than Baz can ever do and with a lot more style.


But as Christine says. Awkward, but with style.

 

We heart you, dance.

 

Happy dancing days!

 

Love, Baz x

 

Comment

Comment

Spotlight 3: An Ode to an Afternoon at the Southbank Centre

Alternative title: Lament on the sofa seat with the Thames View that got Away...old microphone, sparkly dress and everything. Ahem. 

That elusive Sea View...

That elusive Sea View...

Hello Bazzers!

We hope you’re having a great May so far – long May it continue...(alright, we’ll stick to the day job) and welcome once again to another Spotlight!  Typically Baz has done this in deference to a person that has inspired Baz either in their body of work, beliefs or some of both, paying tribute and most recently our respects (seriously what is up with 2016?) to people we have lost and have inspired our approaches, aims and methods. This month however, we want to doff our cap to that most 1950s Brutalist multi-levelled masterpiece: the Southbank Centre.

That would have been a really weird build-up to a person like Parkinson, wouldn’t it?
 

No we definitely mean it: the Southbank Centre, formally known as The Royal Festival Hall, first opened in 1951, it has recently undergone massive changes that solidify it as a totally happening place to get lost in with your laptop in tow looking desperately for a spot that has a good view of the river, near a coffee bar and a loo. Most often, you’re disappointed in your weirdly specific search and end up finding a corner of the Centre that you never knew existed and swear to keep secret the location until you hit the grave (a bit melodramatic, but you get where we’re going with this)  - it’s ripe for creative endeavours, both personal, and professional, as there is literally something going on every turn you take: from a Jazz festival, free yoga sessions and most memorably, a ballroom dancing convention complete with mirrorball.
 

With all this going on, it’s easy to forget that this is a thriving professional arts venue, home to world-renowned orchestras like the LSO, and currently, the amazing Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the London Philharmonic Orchestra to name a few – but there is also a massive emphasis on important festivals and debates: the annual Women of the World (WOW Festival) takes place here every year with so many great key speakers and debates it makes eating, going to the loo, or any other human activity hard to complete for fear of missing a thing. It’s also a hub for culture and multi-cultural sources (and sauces), with festivals of, art, food and photography from stunning places all over the world.
 

But aside from all of this, this is a Baz-approved fave spot for the atmosphere, creative and community feel this venue offers. That and the free wi-fi and comfy sofas. For all us Baz-istas to get together is a real feat in and of itself, and the Southbank Centre/Royal Festival Hall/Sacred Meet-y Place is just that – comfortable, cultural, London’s Common Shared Space. Many a wonderful BazPlan (copyright it.) has been born here, and seen through to it’s final stages, making it as such our rather oversized, public, and loud living room.  It has catacombs too, little offshoots that feature everything to further comedy and music performances and premieres, or where Baz is sitting right now, in the Poetry Library, surrounded by Plath, Sexton and Larkin – not bad work partners, whispering to us from different corners of the floor to ceiling shelves. It’s just possible to hear the delighted shrieks of the children on the terrace playing in the fountain below. 

Sixties Solace in Poetry (Poetry Library, Level 4 Southbank Centre, May '16)

Sixties Solace in Poetry (Poetry Library, Level 4 Southbank Centre, May '16)

Bewitching, Beguilling, Be Seated, Be Sated and Be Ambitious and do as Baz does at the Southbank Festival Hall (should totally change it to this by the way) You won’t regret it. Kisses, Royal SouthFestival Hall Centre, we owe you. (but the wi-fi is free, right? just checking)


Love, Baz x

 

 

Comment

Comment

Spotlight 2: Rebel, Rebel

The Thin White Duke. Ziggy Stardust. The Goblin King. Davy Jones. He had a knack for personas, did Bowie. Something that Baz shares a common ground with. Yes, welcome to another Spotlight – and it’s another doozy in Bowie (do nothing by halves, us lot) So just bear with us as we attempt to explain his influence and importance in some way no-one else has managed to. We might be here a while.

It’s fair to start with the idea that if you have nothing you have nothing to lose – in a time when it was scandalous to even have long hair as dictated by the war-torn generation that came before it, soldiers’ children were finding new avenues to express themselves, and luckily for them, Ziggy was waiting in the wings. It’s hard for us Baz-istas to comprehend what a massive splash he made in ’73 – someone (“She’s Not Sure if You’re a Boy or a Girl”) appearing on Top of The Pops one evening in a cat suit, full stage make-up and orange hair. Put you off your tea. But intrinsically to his appeal, and especially to Baz, he totally did not break the rules of how to dress, behave, even make music, it’s like he had no clue what they even were. He had nothing, so he had nothing to lose. Zeitgeist, meet Ziggy.

Though it eventually became clear what gender Bowie was, (petition to start one simply called ‘Bowie’) there was, even then, a hovering doubt. Rumours of outrageous behaviour and fluid sexuality maintain to this day that all add to the image that became so important to us as a society and to him as a cultural keystone – image, and performance. Larger than life, fully in character, (though he denies even that description voraciously, amazing, but throw us a bone, Davy) like Richard Burbage taking on Hamlet, Othello and Richard II - a ton of amazing characters under his belt, and utterly loyal to them, until the time came to move on.

Baz's idea of gender is long held in the 'doesn't matter' column and that's why Bowie's importance to Baz is simple: he was a true performer with no time for labels or societal pressures. In our 2013 production of Prophesy, we switched up our casts as we wished: Helen of Troy could be played by a tall man in his early thirties, Paris, the noble prince, set on capturing Helen’s heart? A young woman in her late twenties- why not? As long as bold choices are told with authenticity – something Bowie did naturally - he was an artist in the truest sense of the word, and Baz is inspired. And it's not just us - far from being covered by artists ranging across the board and genre (how can we forget Astronaut Chris Hadfield's, seminal, gravity-less cover) he's inspired art, fashion, and with The Michael Clark Company, stunning dance. It seems as if the artistic community will carry on his legacy and rightly so.

We can maintain his legacy, but  he self-curated his death - he honours his legacy much as he did his different personas – effortlessly. It’s sad that his impending death was the force that brought out an international bestseller at the V&A of his costumes, a new album, and most recently and surprisingly of all – a musical, Lazarus opening in New York late last year: (http://www.davidbowie.com/news/nytw-announces-world-premiere-lazarus-54311)  but with the ever-present possibility of new treats being revealed in months to come, it’s almost as if you could brush over the ‘death’ part. As ever, he keeps us guessing, this impossible dude who simply made good music, dressed well and changed the game – bonus points for being the only musician-turned-actor to survive making a movie (sorry Cher, J-Lo and Madonna) and retain his musical credit. Most importantly, though, he never conformed. Baz has something in common with that too.

If we may: Lorde’s stunning performance with Bowie’s band at the Brit Awards earlier this year recaptured a bit of the presence with a bit of herself thrown in - in deference to a true tribute, this is how it’s done. The future is looking bright. Seriously, we can't stop watching it.

You like dancing and you look divine,

Baz x

Comment