Viewing entries tagged
theatre

Comment

Baz Vibes - Five O'The Best

What's the betting that deckchair on the right is going to order that deckchair on the left go get the ice creams and 'stop being a whiny cow' - Bank holidays, huh

What's the betting that deckchair on the right is going to order that deckchair on the left go get the ice creams and 'stop being a whiny cow' - Bank holidays, huh

Hey Bazzers! Us here again, fresh-faced and sun kissed (ok, slightly sunburned) from that scorcher of a Bank Hol Weekend - and as the longer days encourage shorter sleeves, brightly coloured drinks and the fact that your mum says you can play out later, we thought with all the nonsense happening in the world currently, why not keep it positive with some of our Favourite Things we here at Team Baz have appreciated recently. So without further ado -five of our most favourite things we are digging this month. Lift up the red curtain! (well, not really, there isn't one, but work with us here) 

- Our Mates, Doing the Thing: Out BazPals always keep our dance card very full and brimming with excellence- and with fantastic works of music and theatre such as Laura Moody and the Phaedra Ensemble in their piece 'Medium' (link) there is always an embarrassment of riches from Baz collaborators and pals. And from our ADs too - as Sarah Bedi directed a celebration of the Bard with Globe Theatre players in 'Shakespeare Within the Abbey'. That is to say, Westminster. You know, just casually.

Rooftops, Courtyards and Banks: After a weekend such as this - a shock to the average theatre type, used as we are to working in a black box all day and not stepping outside until sundown. (Hang on...are we all vampires? Fully researched, intense blog to follow) This shock to the system has side affects that include- a sudden, uncalled-for abundance of pale skin, day drinking, lounging and generally 60% less theatre than usual. But with courtyards like Somerset House, housing the Courtauld Institute and Gallery and sculpture court (WITH FOUNTAINS), the small deckchair village that multiplies in front of the National Theatre, or various themed bars on painfully cool Hackney roofs, what choice do we have, really? Yeah, yeah no: we're just taking this to work outside.

Vegan Food: Yes, this can be a bit polarising, forgive us: but unusually, we have, in the Baz triumvirate a Vegan Majority (good name for a band) and majority rules, so. The good weather usually brings out good food stalls - but all year round Hackney Vegan Festival, LDN Vegan Nights and lunchtime vegan street stalls are becoming a common sight. Chuffed. But if you get bored of lettuce, word to the wise: Temple of Seitan do devilishly good Vegan Fast Food. Thank us later.

The Prominently Female Jury at Cannes This Year: Women and film have had a turbulent relationship since time immemorial - but really rocky recent times has not made it a friend to women. This year's jury at Cannes - where, a few years earlier, women weren't allowed into screenings wearing flat shoes -is made up of Cate Blanchett, Ava DuVernay, Lea Seydeux, Khadja Nin and Kristen Stewart. Oh, and a few token men. And it's not even for a female-only category! Progress, thy name is Cannes. Keep it up and maybe film can redeem itself. 

Childish Gambino's Track and Video 'This Is America: Put simply, when art does the thing. Part modern art and music video, this could potentially be installed in the Tate Modern, and featured in your dissertation. Art at its most provoking. 

Special mentions to the upcoming all-female Ocean's Eight film, avant-garde punk choreographer Michael Clark's latest stunning, Bowie-infused offering 'To a Simple Rock n Roll...song' is on iPlayer, starlet Zendaya turning up to the Met Gala and embracing the theme of Catholic imagination dressed as the most fashionable Joan of Arc we've ever seen, but most importantly -  Graeae Theatre Company's Sensibilty Festival in Birmingham coming up later this month, 18-20th May featuring work from D/deaf, blind and disabled artists - more info on their twitter @graeae

More as we get it, but sorry we have to go - a deckchair was just vacated. You get the ice creams, yeah?

Big love and Best,

Baz x

 

Comment

Comment

Greeks Bring Gifts: Time For A Rebirth of Critical Theatre?

Peter Capaldi playing Malcolm Tucker outside Downing St - both intimidating you to read this blog and starring in the meta-ultra critical and satirical  Thick of It.  TV has a handle on this satire stuff...does theatre need to catch up and snatch back the crown?

Peter Capaldi playing Malcolm Tucker outside Downing St - both intimidating you to read this blog and starring in the meta-ultra critical and satirical Thick of It. TV has a handle on this satire stuff...does theatre need to catch up and snatch back the crown?

Bazlings! We are supremely sorry for what we’re calling, for the want of a better word, our hibernation (Clocks went back yesterday…get it?) But we have all, separately and together, been doing our things: from directing, acting, and bringing up kids…check out our Twitter: @baz_productions and our Instagram of the same name for proof, y’all: we got it all, recommendations, updates, all sorts! But this here is out blog and we are back, charged up and better than ever! What’s more, we’re about to drop some history on ya…so watch out!

London, or Londinium, when it was, shall we call it, ‘hostile takeover’-ed in somewhere 100AD by the Romans actually led to a lot we still call home – pasta, religion and those lovely ladies of the arts, the Muses. Also, aqueducts. For all this influence though, it seems as if the modern theatre came from Greece and the great Amphitheatres of the age. Here, 5th century tragic playwrights such as Euripides and Sophocles didn’t only stage the heavyweights of Electra and Oedipus, they also wrote about current invasions, wars and political decisions, often staging their work in the theatres placed right next to the buildings of government. Imagine it- you’re a lawmaker, going about your daily business, deciding who lives and who dies, where to invade next, etc – and you hear the commotion of you being played by an actor in a silly voice, mimicking your voice and actions – and people laughing at it, at this, an age of literal marketplace backstabbing. Now that takes some cajones.

Of course, the act of satire is not new to us: Beyond the Fringe had Dudley, Peter, Alan and Jonathan take aim at Harold MacMillan, who was sitting in the audience, Tom Lehrer was writing funny songs about who’s got the bomb in the nervous 60s, Spitting Image saw the Royal Family at a typical dinner, and most recently, Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin – have, you could argue, won against Sarah Palin and President Trump respectively. In the cloudy, faraway mists of the past, however, it seems these playwrights were the first People’s Champions – playing a game of Russian Roulette for their art. Some recent academic thinking sees a strong link between Athenian Tragedy and Democracy, and treat the original plays as historical documents that tell us in more detail, and more astutely then any other kind of record.

These old texts asked moral questions of an audience that had suffered or lived through the actions it staged – sometimes even mocking authority - and was flocked to by all manner of fare – from the farmer to the lawmaker. It’s not surprising, then that fine actors of the age blurred the line between performer and politician – namely a bloke called Aeschines, a popular actor of the age, hired by would be king Philip, father of Alexander the Great to plead his case for taking over said actor’s township. It’s both extraordinary and not, as you hear hyperbole in recent elections of how politicians look, sound, and exude their charisma – not so much politic as chic. Still, plays and their writers had more than a view on the social climate, the affected it – it seems unfathomable now that theatre could affect policy – in this current state the arts find themselves in of self-sufficiency and theatre making for change and representation thankfully still going, but off site – these plays went to the masses. We could learn something from these much lauded, seemingly limitlessly brave writers and orators.

A lot has happened since Ancient Greek theatre – and its not as if these traditional methods didn’t come back, often with a vengeance – after all Reagan, an actor, achieved terms as a serving American President, and Arnie is currently running California, so the charm of the film star has been known to reach out of the screen – and here in England, we have a tradition of actor-activists, from Jessica Hynes' powerful BAFTA speech, Hugh Grant’s work with Hacked Off, Stephen Fry’s campaign for mental health and recently Michael Sheen’s semi retirement from acting to launch his fair loan scheme, inspired by the struggles he witnessed with unregulated lenders in his native Wales.

A fundamental right is that of freedom of speech – but if we return to the age of the snap reaction plays – say, a play set behind the scenes at Whitehall on the night of the Brexit vote– would we get in trouble? Can we only make critical theatre when the subject is dead and gone- what are the laws on this? Censorship on theatre was only lifted in the late 20th Century, are we still at an impasse – and is theatre too polite? As we always say, we here at Baz want to engage you, push you and interact with you – but will our time be long gone before that’s the norm?

We here at Baz don’t know – but if there’s anything we want to do, it’s to tell truths and represent real people and stories. We have done this in the past through Ancient Text – our 2013 Prophesy was our take on the Greek Myth – but it seems the old Athenians had more to offer than previously thought, as new texts are being discovered all the time, and all that is old is new again. Perhaps.

 

Boom. And that is how you drop some history!

Oh and this blog is proudly pro-Cynthia Nixon for NY Governor by the way. Come on guys, really

Big love, til next time!

 

Baz

X

 

Comment

Comment

The Bold and the Beautiful - Baz on Speaking Out

Hello, friends. We hope the changing season has treated you well, and we’re still very much excited about our week R&D-in’ with our fab crew and company a few weeks back - going through all the pics and notes has brought back some wonderful memories. It would be a lie however, to state we’ve been able to avoid upsetting and yet unsurprising headlines about our industry of late - something that mars all industry, in fact - and that with the changing seasons, winds of change are finally starting to lift up embedded lint - and though the results are upsetting and uncomfortable, we are so inspired by the bravery of these women and men speaking out.

Allegations and accusations were recently dredged up from the peat bog which is show business; some after decades, showing the long lasting effect and the collusion of cover up that’s dogged the arts and more particularly Hollyweird sleaze elite. And with it, a lot of raw unfettered emotion: anger and sadness at the variety and widespread nature of these actions, a sense of relief that it can at last be revealed and a nervousness about national response. It’s no secret that Britain has the worst news and print industry in the world, something exacerbated by a certain Australian mogul deciding to make himself an empire based on personal slander, misogyny and gross invasions of privacy. The thought to not believe a woman or a man’s accusation has been planted in our mind for decades, or at least to see her as an objectified image, or the more dangerous thought of ‘I can’t say anything’ intimidated by the famousness or power of the abuser to make others keep quiet or turn a blind eye.To no one’s surprise the tools that are meant to bring us together, that of “social media” have instead made us turn against each other and give a mouth-piece to people and views you could have otherwise happily lived your life never hearing. These voices are given free rein while Rose McGowan’s treatment, that of personal abuse, suspended twitter activity and now a conveniently timed accusation of drug use colludes in a ‘keep quiet’ culture that led us to this point in the first place.

To us, art and the arts are based on a trust - as a writer, performer and director, you share so much of yourself - your time, your effort, your skill, your self - and when this works, you fly. This is certainly what Baz has found, through both our methods and our practice of casting and enlisting talent and points of view of any race, culture or otherwise. When one of our would be actors comes in to audition, we want to let them know and assume this is a safe space where safety and freedom of expression is encouraged. These men have made that task difficult. It’s so insulting to us that a Westernised culture that objectifies women has infected the earnest work of producing good stories, entertaining and educating the world and inspiring people to act, write, sing, direct - that these perpetrators took that genuine craft and turned it into a quest for personal satisfaction is disgusting.

Baz obviously condemns the objectification, the misogyny of the arts, a depressingly common theme not only in 20th century theatre, but in these decades too - be it subtle or otherwise. Too often the female role is a nagging girlfriend or mother, a damsel in distress looking for a male saviour - or a prop to the male main character to be used now and then. That women still have to fight for better roles, we knew, but it’s only coming out now, how many other things they have to fight first. Baz is an all female run company and for sure in the Baz workplace you can ask anyone of a harrowing or uncomfortable experience they’ve been subjected to in the industry,  but of course it’s not confined to the arts, and is prevalent everywhere. It’s still early days, and though we’re, in situations such as these, encouraged to share and work through the experience, having it screamed from the headlines without care for those who could be triggered, highlights to us here at Baz just how multi-layered this issue is for us all -  Baz is relieved to see and hear more stories being told, and we are amazed at the strength of conviction and spirit of these men and women to break their silences, we are just as sorry however, that in order to do that, they must relive it. We’d like to thank them for that, wholeheartedly. All survivors, male or female, are finally getting a chance to be heard, and the world, that was darkened by these perpetrators, their accomplices and the industry covering it up is lightened slightly with every brave statement these survivors make.

We truly hope there is some salvation to be found for this industry we love, and we here at Baz, rest assured are here to support them, all women in the arts, and all men too- in all fields of work, everywhere: whatever role they play, and our dedication remains to tell human stories with equality, truth and care.

Thank you. Much love.

Baz xx

 

 

Comment

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

Spacial Elite and Stained White Trainers

‘This Brave, O'erhanging Firmament' - Hamlet, being rather Meta and talking about the Globe Theatre’s pretty paint job in 1602.

The Vienna Austria theatres are fancy - and we would spray the famous Verdi aria calling for Roman Citizens (plebs) to rise up: 'Plebe! Parts! Popolo!' but we won't for two reasons - 1. - come on. So beautiful. 2. The elite would probably love it, remove the seat and sell it for a million lira. Sigh.  

The Vienna Austria theatres are fancy - and we would spray the famous Verdi aria calling for Roman Citizens (plebs) to rise up: 'Plebe! Parts! Popolo!' but we won't for two reasons - 1. - come on. So beautiful. 2. The elite would probably love it, remove the seat and sell it for a million lira. Sigh.  

Hi there Bazzers! All here is abuzz at Baz (such a satisfying sentence, ahh) with meetings, sending out our facilitators to Leeds to educate over 1,000 teachers (boo-may we say-yah)  and our friends and colleagues continuing to be completely brilliant in all respects. This has put us in such a good mood we’re all excited to look at beautiful places in the world to perform theatre and daydream about our world domination…in a nice way, obviously. A kind, hostile global takeover where all theatre is free, we’re equal, respectful of all and fluent in Shakespeare. For like, a start.

If you lovelies have been following our Baz Insta posts (which you should, we’ll wait here while you follow, then come on back- we’ll wait…) you’ll see we love a hashtag BazPlace(s) - where we visit somewhere epic either in a meeting, to see a show, or to explore the city and it’s possible locations, and share a photo of it - and it got us thinking. London is an epic theatre city, boasting new and old, often alongside each other. As theatre makers and theatre lovers, anywhere that houses performance, whether it’s one big ornate room, or a gentleman’s club, we are here for it, as our earlier blogpost on our most fave unusual theatre projects will attest.

A recent visit to the National Theatre got us on this thoughtpath (we made that up, we like it, it’s staying, feel free to use it) and the idea of theatre as status - a barometer of its location; how the arts, through the decades has been stigmatised as an upper class pursuit. We love the National, and it has an interesting background - Sir Laurence Olivier founded it in the late 50s, finding a site on the then fairly abandoned South Bank and sought, very nobly, as a nobleman does, to create a new kind of theatre decidedly overbearing the Thames bank, and unlike any theatre seen before -with its brutalist and consciously unflouncy shape and sharp corners shocked the likes of Shaftsbury Avenue. Along with the new look, the fairly traditional and old-fashioned progenitor wanted to induce a new kind of theatre too, for all - a good example of using private wealth for public use. Of course, despite its best efforts, it has fallen into the trap of achieving it’s mainstream goal, whilst unavoidably becoming a symbol of status and the old guard. And as it should: a hub of great theatre events, and a sure fire ticket in ol’ London town. But it begs the questions: how does an institution avoid elitism? Is it possible?

As long time affiliates of experimental theatre, we are used to seeing and producing work in the most unlikely of places: our past two works have taken place in a lighthouse/lookout on Aldeburgh Beach and The Vaults under Waterloo Bridge with our production of dreamplay. Our question is that if a performance, a crew of actors, technicians and creatives adopt a space, does it automatically gentrify it? Is theatre still seen as, one of our favourite films of 2015 ‘Birdman’ states something to get through until the interval, where, filing out quietly ‘they can all get a cup of coffee and a slice of cake’? What can we do to change it? And should we - theatre is not just for the young, but it needs to keep moving, keep rejuvenated. Of course, places like Venice, Norway, Sweden have their share of theatres - beautiful Restoration, delicate, hand-painted masterpieces- that are more museums than places to see live theatre - where opera is still performed de regur and you most certainly will not be let in wearing trainers. This idea is changing however, and a sub -culture of experimental, site specific and promenade theatre has found its place - the successful runs of our mates’ shows like Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man, any and everything by Forced Entertainment and Get In The Back Of The Van theatre collectives- (delightfully mobile, fluid, hedonistic and literally in-yer-face theatre, never mind the 90s theatre moniker) but it’s all considered ‘specialist’ and whilst there is (and always should be) a time for revivals and musicals- not to the detriment of others.

So what is the answer? Take over the delicate music-box theatres in Amsterdam and spray graffiti all over it? By it’s nature change has to use willpower and have a movement, a shape - but this can easily be misconstrued as aggression and destruction - think of the Sex Pistols in 1979 calling a household name interviewer a ‘rotten wanker’ - and that is not what’s happening here. But much like getting a seat on the tube, you might have to make good use of your elbow. And yet, there’s cause for celebration - so many new writing theatres dedicating to new talent their time, expertise, rehearsal rooms and performance spaces, this scene is expanding - and with £15 under 26 tickets at the National, £10 Mondays at the Royal Court, a rise in ‘Pay What You Can’ offers, apps like TodayTix that find and search out the best ticket deals on the West End and elsewhere. It’s all looking pretty bright from over here - as long as we don’t give up and continue to make cool, all-inclusive stuff and take the focus slightly away from the traditional theatre of the West End, or else put something in the water in Drury Lane*- cos nothing changes if we don’t. Deal? Deal.

*to be clear, we here at Baz aren’t advocating putting something unpleasant in the water in a busy TheatreLand and London, street. Nope, no. Be assured.

Ah, so with that in mind, in a very Henry V way, we hope you feel inspire. All the best to you today whether you’re picking up a pen to write a scene, a prop dagger from the store, your script for your readthrough or all of the above + a strong latte - more power to you. And...create!

All the Baz 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

Be of Good Voice - An Ode To Education Baz style

Freddy at a particularly busy General meeting (Queen at Wembley, '86)

Freddy at a particularly busy General meeting (Queen at Wembley, '86)

Well Hello to all the Bazzed (translation: our version of ‘the faithful’…we know, we’re really cute) Or Baz-ed, as the case may be! Yes that’s right – it’s a blog that’s an inadvertent pat on the back as well as a call to arms to get physical (not in an Olivia Newton John way, don’t worry) and how we’ve brought our performance and theatre skills to workshops up and down the country, from schools to offices, town halls to lecture halls. This is a blog about our methods of play, our mission statements and ideals, mixed in with our technique, will make your talk/class/exam feel like Wembley ’86./

/ not actual disclaimer

But in all seriousness, we’ve worked hard to make education one of the pillars that Baz is founded on – our mission statement we made many moons ago spoke of the things any theatre company would want for their success: viable and memorable productions, compelling and challenging theatre, equal representation – and education, to us, is the common denominator for all of it – when we rehearse, we include play, we study, we use and dissect verse and we perform. We think these are skills that no-one should be without.

Our work takes place through TeachFirst – an excellent group who are dedicated to adapting and updating modern teaching techniques in schools. We are not offering nor do we seek to provide a drama class to confuse GCSE Drama students – believe us, we’ve been there – but rather to fit in and sit alongside studies and exams. More than this, we specifically work to Key Stage 2,3,4,5 as well Edexcel and AQA specifications. You know, so there. We’re legit, as the kids would say (sorry)

But enough of the what, more of the how: our practitioners are not teachers, but professionals: actors, facilitators, directors, writers and performers. We train our speakers to hit specific learning objectives, but beyond that we bring the skill of the practitioner to proceedings, for example, our work with Shakespeare, and say, our production of Macbeth in St Andrew’s Crypt allowed us to use our skill and understanding of verse and pentameter. Our production of Prophesy, based on the classical Greek canon allowed us to perfect our way and method of devising, and our most recent production of Strindberg’s dreamplay used improvisation to connect with our audiences – often directly – and further cement our ‘house style’. These tools of play, study, devising and improvisation are all skills we bring to our bespoke workshops: to help you understand your school text, prepare your lesson plans, lead a lecture, or give your presentation.

We don’t only limit ourselves to study and learning, we like to get you active, and give you ‘life hacks’ to help with delivery and performance, and a favourite we like to reference often is Amy Cuddy’s excellent TED (above -and go Amy, 11 million plus views! She don't play around) talk on something as simple as posture, eyeline, and meditation all providing proven benefits and support. We’ve been to all corners of the UK, from Southend to Blackpool, using a pool of creatives we’ve worked with as well as some we haven’t – but all of whom we implicitly trust to deliver Baz’s message, on point, as the kids would say. But why is it so important to us – as a BazPerson, you’ll have spoken at talks at Universities, Schools, Centres for Learning and offices. Too often we feel, the arts are perceived as an ivory tower that is not worth trying to get into unless you go on X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. Education, getting kids excited about the Three Witches, freeing it from the classroom, and hopefully, letting all the good stuff like confidence, inspiration and opportunity rush out with the flow. And the responses we’ve been lucky to get are enough  to melt even our stony hearts (be prepared to get cuddled tho)

 

We take the education side of what we do very seriously, not ‘as well as’ not ‘supporting’ our work, but there as an entity in it’s own right – when we welcomed a BSL interpreter to The Vaults we learned so much from her interpretations and techniques – when we invited young, aspiring directors to a workshop, again at the Vaults, we valued their feedback and responses as much as any review – our dedication to making more able, confident and skilled adults, ready for anything, whether a student, teacher, worker, or sufferer – we know our lives were changed for the better for theatre and performance and we hope yours can be too – new talent, new perspective, a new idea on why Medea is misunderstood, why The Apothacary is the unannounced villain of Romeo and Juliet, standing up in class/the pub/in the lecture hall and saying so – well to Baz, that’s all that matters. Stand up, speak out. Goodness knows we need that more than ever. Onwards!

Much love,

Baz x

Baz Education is dedicated to provide trained staff to offer bespoke and one on one sessions as well as our group Teach First workshops. Details to be found under the ‘Baz Education’ header of the website or email us for details.

 

 

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

1 Comment

Rolling Up Your Sleeves and Acting On It

Susan Sarandon takes the mic at a protest.

Susan Sarandon takes the mic at a protest.

First post of Baz 2017 (our year) and bang - an exploratory essay! Okay, it’s not three layered chocolate cake, pass the parcel and party favours, but hold hard a moment. Now’s the time. So, a theory for you: art is the natural predator of fascism. Discuss? Okay. When Donald O’Connor sang Make ‘Em Laugh in the seminal Singin’ in the Rain - he kind of had it dead on. Satire, from Punch to the Private Eye, standup from Bill Hicks to Hannibal Buress grabs hateful types by the scruffs of their necks, holds a mirror up to their laughable beliefs  and says, ‘Look: I don’t even need to do my job’ - as we go to the theatre and see The Producers and Springtime For Hitler, as we put in a DVD of Chaplin’s The Dictator, and  as we click on entertainment sites to see clips of Alec Baldwin as Trump on Saturday Night Live, art proves it has teeth, a lipstick smile and diamonds to match.

All art, really is a response to the time it’s written in. Even if it’s written in a future, a past, in science fiction - ours is to imagine, but the best futures, the best stories come from real stories. The best drama is real drama. Brechtian theatre is the best example of currently using current affairs, of literally taking the action dictators made and dramatising it, speaking clearly to audiences and encouraging them to be educated, to act. There’s a great imagination in writing - but sometimes the truth is the most dramatic, most real and most scary. Parables have been the foundations of our society, how we behave - whether it’s holy books, myths, legends - values, ideals, aspirations have been subtly drip fed into our imaginations from a young age. That’s mainly why despots usually don’t have a wide vocabulary. All this could have been avoided if they just paid better attention in class.

Later this month A Very Uncool thing is going to happen in the United States. But we here at Baz take faith - in art, and weirdly, artists. Historically, British theatre talent has been no stranger to picket lines: Vanessa Redgrave, Glenda Jackson, and more recently, the likes of Michael Sheen and Samuel West have stood in the cold in solidarity using that duality of populism, the fact you recognise them to get you to realise they care about a better deal for you and your family, and a better society for your kids to grow up in. As you do. In the USA, for decades, as acting dynasties came and went, it seemed it was only Jane Fonda stubbornly upholding this value - enter Meryl Streep, stage right at the Golden Globes, 2017. In an age where awards shows are about self-congratulation, under-representation, what dress you are wearing, and infamously, Oscar goody bags containing amongst other things, a Vagina Rejuvinator (really) you get played off right in the middle of thanking your agent. Usually. Instead, Meryl said what we were all thinking in a shocking moment of un-glitzy lucidity. We attach it here for posterity.

Well. That’s kind of the end of the discussion, right? To borrow from her speech, Bravery inspires Bravery. There’s talk of top events producers in the US launching their own Freedom Concert on the day of the Inauguration- live music, comedy from your favourite A-List artists signed up on a ridiculous lineup on a rival channel - and they are encouraging you to watch that live channel all day to make Trump’s inauguration the least-viewed swearing in, ever. This is what we mean by art as a predator to the right wing. Meryl knows as much as the star of your local community theatre starring at your local church hall that art can only come from a place of unity - the crew, your fellow cast, your writer, director - no one role can be carried out alone. In a way, it’s the most Utopian workplace that can be imagined. Meryl knows the importance of an audience, of working together, and encouraging each other. With more artists breaking character and speaking out more than ever, taking roles as characters, and platforms as actors  that directly contradict a terrifying new status quo there may just  be a way out of this. That, for us, is what art is based on - having put on productions, ran workshops in rehearsal rooms, class rooms and meeting rooms, meeting new people for different walks of life, with different views, different stories, learning about  he specific threats to the futures they face, the skills of performance and creating art can’t not help but bring people together, eradicate that fear, and fight back. Our manifesto has always stated that we want to make challenging theatre, and tackle the bad habits we have fallen into. So, our conclusion: we’ve done it before: with satire, humour, performance, music, dance - and we can do it again. That’s a great message to start 2017 on.

 

Roll up your sleeves everyone. We have work to do.

 

 

Love,

 

Baz xx

 

 

1 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

Voices In Likely Places (You Can't Ignore Them Forever)

 

The above image taken at our Young Director's workshop - the brilliant Liz set the task of asking them to write their thoughts on post its and stick them to pages posing different questions about the production. We got a very colourful theatre floor going on. You just can't see it cos it's in black and white. 

Good morning Bazerinas, we hope this blog finds you well – we certainly are, still wondering if dream play was some wonderful dream that still gives us butterflies. Ah. Don’t expect us to not be mushy for a while yet! But at the same time, the gooey centre that is Baz needs it’s raison d'etre (this talk of chocolate and raisins getting you guys hungry too?)  anyway – it’s proving quite hard to stay positive given current news and politics news – but it’s uncertain, worrying and austere times that art has proven its mettle and proved its here to stay.

It’s so hard to believe that austerity has been around for six years – kids, there was such a thing as money put aside from the arts, and people not meddling in culture ! That’s why we need young voices and talent more than ever and Baz is dedicated to nurturing and providing tools in order to contribute to the health of the arts for the future – Baz Education is just there above on the right and we’ll wait right here for you to check it out and then come back.

Okay?

Good, isn’t it? Okay, it’s brilliant and it’s fine if you haven’t gone, you can do it later but in essence, Baz’s aims and manifesto in our theatre and programming have helped shape our teaching programmes – using the tools we use in rehearsal and performance – from verse and approaching scenes to devising. For key stages 2,3 and 4 these kinds of skills are so useful for not only studies but also vocabulary, wider knowledge but most importantly, personal confidence.  We also tailor our workshops to suit different institutions and levels of study. Cos we’re passionate like that.

During our dream play run at the Vaults, we reached out to young directors, offering them a ticket inclusive with a Q&A with two kind members of the cast, and our director/writer extraordinaire, Sarah – it was led epicly by one of our trainee directors Liz and was such an eye opener to how young people think about theatre: as well as their furtile imaginations and keenness to talk and interact with the production itself through directing exercises, brainstorms and Q&A sessions. That alone was enough to convince us that there is interest, passion and more importantly talent out there we need to nurture more than ever. We also recently visited and talked at the BRIT School for further confirmation that faith in young talent is founded - they have the skills and we need to provide the goods.

We’ve also worked closely with those top top people at Teach First – an organisation that truly puts education at the foremost of its ideals – for all ages, all parts of the country, all nationalities – everyone. The tireless work they put in to this inspires Baz, and also provides us with a framework to adapt our workshops to visit all schools, universities and work spaces we can get to- allowing us to tap into our fantastic actor’s network to lead the workshops we have formed in order to get the message out there by professionals with hands on knowledge of the industry they are talking about. We’ve seen for ourselves that drama techniques and training can give students and teachers alike that extra boost of confidence and skill that makes all the difference, especially through our Teacher INSET education packages. To learn more, take a trip to the top of the page under the lovely banner of Baz Education.

And it’s not just us – various theatre companies, even big buildings like the Old Vic are running programmes that use performance spaces and theatre in the day to help you give that presentation, to help your confidence, to help you imagine and understand that monologue you have to analyse. And we here at Baz dig that, and am so pleased to be part of the movement. So ultimately, are we about to break into Witney Houston song, teach them well and let them lead the way? Well yes, actually, that’s a silly question, but aside from that the arts, our cultural output and identity is being cut year on year, less voices are being given the opportunity to be heard and society can’t advance without arts. That’s why we need to nurture young voices and talent – of which there is no shortage in this country – and support the arts! We smell revolution. You with us??

With a friendly roar, we're off to eat some chocolate raisins.

Love, Baz

 

Comment

Comment

Dreaming in The Vaults - Pic Collection No.3

Hello again Bazzy Dreamers! We are now at our last week in The Vaults! Can you even believe that! We cannot - time is being weird. Like a dream….*twilight music* ha, anyway. We thought we'd spoil you with some more pics courtesy of the excellent Cesare De Giglio! Check them out below!

Love, Baz xx

Comment

Comment

A Word On Our Inspiration: BazHomage Time

August having a good (?) time with his guitar and his patented 'hypnotic gaze'. It's a good look, bro.

August having a good (?) time with his guitar and his patented 'hypnotic gaze'. It's a good look, bro.

So. Bazzers, the time has come to write on our raison d’etre (check us out) - it’s Strindberg time! Yep we’re going to dive into the mind of the writer whose work we are adapting for our dreamplay - giving us the perfect excuse to get into the head of the guy who wrote this impossible, existentialist, surrealist theatre gauge that has endured for centuries. Basically, the topic and sub heading of the blog this week is: “who on earth could have possibly come up with this?”

Hoy. We’ll do our best!

Well! Someone, creative, damaged and a touch fragile, for one. A Dream Play follows beautiful, melancholy and naive daughter of the God Indra, known as Agnes. She comes down to observe us, UFO style, and our earth-y ways. She is left wanting. To sort of get back up there to the mansion in the clouds and away quick sharp. Quelle Surprise (we like quoting in French a lot lately, go with it)  In essence, the human condition comes under the microscope and uncomfortable truths are borne out of the typical human experience: an marriage going sour, a dead end job, waiting in vain, forever trapped in a unrequited love. Not so subtle there, August bro. But still, the human condition (i.e in bad shape) has long inspired great thinkers and writers of the age, why should August be any different?
 

Why indeed? Well, it seems there was never any choice: he was destined to be an artist. After some research, it’s clear to see that August Strindberg reaches those lofty, dusty heights of the shelves labelled ‘Tortured Genius’  where his ideas are regularly dusted off and his words shaken from their pages into some melting pot or another (maybe we are spending too much time with this play…) His popularity was not as widespread as Ibsen or Chekov, fellow writers and his contemporaries, enjoying modest success at best. Still, they didn’t enjoy a period of  posthumous popularity Strindberg did - with various Miss Julies popping up all over these isles in recent years. There’s not been that many A Dream Plays though - therefore, enter Baz. Pursued by a bear, fairy and the living daughter of a divine being. It’s just that sort of play, guys. So - we know how he could have written it, but why?

Having suffered a sickly early childhood as part of a global cholera outbreak, parts of it in lonely and enforced quarantine, the hospital and his quarantine bed are a motif he uses throughout his canon of work but particularly in A Dream Play as a means to portray unrest, torture or, in this particular play, a kind of hellish limbo. August, now a grown man riddled with unchecked maladies and disorders - how we would have had him have a chance holiday in Vienna and pop in to see the ‘local’ psychologist and meet Sigmund -he clearly had enough nous to realise the quarantine as a theatrical device. It didn’t stop him from attempting suicide more than once though sadly, the first when he was very young. He had an issue with drink and drug abuse and was prone to fits of whimsy, and fantasy.

Tortured genius? Tick.

Albeit one with an excellent work ethic. After abandoning his childhood hobby of tearing all the worldly goods his family owned in order to become an ‘inventor’ he discovered books, education, and later, art and women - and was all ‘Wheel what?’ and ‘electric generator who?’. He then fell in with a crowd of philosophers, writers, poets and atheists, and probably lounged around going ‘woe is me’ with a cup of coffee in one hand and a glass of wine and a cigarette in the other. After successfully wooing his first wife in love letters of several languages (show off) and comparing their love to Cleopatra and Marc Antony, he found the theatre. And the rest is theatre history. A Dream Play premiered in April 1907, with his then third wife, actress Harriet Bosse, who had also endured a long wooing campaign by Strindberg, as Agnes. In truth, we should be thankful for the campaign as in the process she became his sole inspiration for Agnes. In our eyes, she belongs wholeheartedly within the pantheon of famous turn of the century tragic heroines such as Hedda Gabler in Ibsen’s seminal play and of Masha in Chekov’s Three Sisters - bright, beautiful and innocent - cruelly lampooned by fate and a harsh society. Sounds familiar.

In the great scheme of things, it seems like A Dream Play was just another title and another opening night in Strindberg’s bibliography, overshadowed by it’s big sister, the loud and controversial Miss Julie, banned in England until 1939. He is also well known and respected   for his artwork, novels and writings, with Agnes and Co somewhat relegated to only the most hardcore Strindberg elite. No elite present in his time though, as on his death in May 1912,  having inspired parades and acclaim in his home country of Sweden for his achievements in his lifetime, ten thousand people followed his coffin. Incredible devotion for a writer and creative thinker, let alone advocate of experimental theatre.

Stories and entertainment for all, featuring a clear message, often quite left-wing leaning, strong women, forward thinking ideas and experimental flavours. Sounds familiar to us here at Baz - a match made in heaven, not Earth. And we can’t wait.

Dream Big and don’t do anything Strindberg wouldn’t do

(Seriously guys)

Love,

Baz x

 

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 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