Monthly Archives: November 2009

Theatre Materials: What is theatre made of?

Theatre Materials: What is theatre made of?

Eleanor Margolies, editor
published by Centre for Excellence in Training for Theatre/Central School of Speech and Drama (CETT)
ISBN: 978-0-9539501-5-7

Artists, engineers and architects look at the raw materials of theatre in Theatre Materials: What is theatre made of?. An illustrated collection of essays, edited by Eleanor Margolies, it delves into the matter of performance, from portable theatres to street arts, the physics of materials to low-energy lighting, mirror neurons to acrobatics.

Eleanor Margolies writes ‘Theatre artists are experts in materials: the costume maker records how different textiles respond to dyes, the prop maker seeks out compounds and techniques developed for boat-building and aeronautics, the director and actor study the body. But these forms of knowledge, which combine tactile experience with thought and imagination, are too rarely articulated outside the workshop’.

Contributions include:

  • reflections on ‘six real things’ by celebrated American director Anne Bogart;
  • theatre critic Robert Butler trying not to sink into a muddy swamp;
  • scenographer Pamela Howard auditioning fur and lace for an opera set in 1950s New York;
  • cartoonist Tim Hunkin taking off his kid gloves;
  • Zoe Laughlin, curator of the Materials Library, smashing roses and blasting memory alloys back into shape;
  • puppeteer Sean Myatt rambling around a landscape of performing objects;
  • professor of theatre Alan Read on anthrax, cement and the lure of material facts.
The book is a record and continuation of the The Theatre Materials/Material Theatres conference at CETT.
Other contributors are:

  • Rene Baker (puppeteer and lecturer at the Institut del Teatre, Barcelona)
  • Anne Bogart (Artistic Director, SITI Company, New York)
  • Jane Heather (illustrator and theatre designer)
  • Joanna Parker (scenographer, Central School of Speech and Drama)
  • Paul Rae (performer and lecturer, National University of Singapore)
  • Bob Sheil (architect, the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)
  • Ben Todd (Executive Director, the Arcola Theatre).
For more information, contact Gail Hunt at CETT:
cett@cssd.ac.uk
t: 020 7449 1571

See Eleanor Margolies articles here on the Directory on puppets and animals onstage and on the first feast.
Robert Butler blogs here.

CSPA Quarterly Calls for International Submissions

The second edition of the CSPA Quarterly is now open for submissions.  This issue will focus on international eco-policy, policy’s effect on the arts, and the arts’ effect on policy.  The issue will feature news and events from COP15, the UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen this December.  Articles from all nations are welcome!

The publication will explore sustainable arts practices in all genres (performance, visual art & installation, music, and film/video), and will view sustainability in the arts through environmentalism, economic stability, and cultural infrastructure. The periodical will provide a formal terrain for discussion, and will evaluate diverse points of views.

Please send your essays, photos, and articles to:  Miranda@SustainablePractice.org

The deadline for consideration is December 22, 2009.

Future Arcola kicks off!

Juhi-Kick-off-photo-2 Juhi-Kick-off-photo-1

Monday 16 November 2009 was a date to remember : the first official kick-off meeting for the Future Arcola theatre was held, appropriately, in the current Arcola bar!

After two years of meetings and relationship building on all fronts, the show is finally on the road… and now we have three weeks to present our plans for taking the project to RIBA stage B, i.e. feasibility design stage. A presentation on Future Arcola is going to be made at City Hall on December 15th.

I am working with fellow Sustainability Consultant Mariane Jang, and Arcola’s Sustainability  Projects Manager Rachel Carless, to develop a robust Sustainability Appraisal Framework (SAF) that will provide the performance framework for managing the sustainability of the project.

As part of the SAF we will:

  • Crystallise the sustainability vision for Future Arcola
  • Set sustainability objectives (covering environment and natural resource issues, social responsibility and economic viability and regeneration)
  • Derive robust key performance indicators to measure sustainability performance against objectives
  • Compare different scoring mechanisms (LEED, BREEAM etc) as well as the WWF One Planet Living principles and reviewing their relevance for Future Arcola
  • Undertake stakeholder engagement with the Arcola team, Mouchel (project management), Arup Associates (architecture), Arup (theatre consulting, structural engineering), Hackney Borough Council, the London Development Agency (LDA), BioRegional and beyond

Arcola has proved itself to be a groundbreaking theatre, not only showcasing world-class productions but also leading the way in engaging with the public through the Arcola Energy incubator, Arcola Youth & Community programmes and Green Sundays. The next step in the sustainability story will be to set some challenging targets so that Future Arcola can realistically hope to be the most sustainable theatre in the world.

Congratulations to Leyla, Mehmet and Ben for all their hard work to get us to the starting blocks.

Go to Arcola Energy

Record the sound around you for a map of UK soundscapes

Researchers at the University of Salford are building a sound map of the UK as part of a study into how sounds in our everyday environment affect how people feel about their environment.

For Sound Around You, researchers are calling for people to use their mobile phones or another audio recording device to record 10- to 15-second clips from different sound environments, or soundscapes.

The information on the project website is biased towards urban environments, but there is nothing exclusive about where the sounds may be recorded. Sound Around You aims to raise awareness of the influences of soundscapes.

People can then upload those recordings onto a virtual map, along with their opinions of the sounds and why they chose to record them. Recordings and responses will be analysed by acoustic scientists and findings will be reported on the Sound Around You website.

www.soundaroundyou.com

Commissions for ‘Artists Taking the Lead’ / Cultural Olympiad announced

The twelve regional winners of Artists Taking the Lead, the major art commissions for the Cultural Olympiad part of the London 2012 Olympics, were announced on 22 October.

Although the winners are more strongly based in installation, sculpture and visual arts, several do have performance and participation elements as well as an environmental sensibility. Those winners include:

North East
FLOW

by Owl Project, based on a concept by Ed Carter.

  • FLOW is an environmentally sustainable floating waterwheel and mill house. Entering the mill house will be like entering a turn of the century workshop where basic electronics, wood and water replace metal and steam, creating an accessible and interactive art space on the River Tyne.
  • The artwork will generate its own power and combine traditional and new technologies to monitor the river’s environmental details including water temperature, speed, and turbidity.
  • A series of Owl Project musical instruments on display in the mill house, will respond to this data. The audience will be able to interact with these instruments, performing alongside each other and the Tyne itself.
North West
Projected Column
by Anthony McCall
  • Projected Column will be a slender, spinning column of cloud rising into the sky from the surface of the water in Birkenhead’s disused Morpeth dock in Merseyside, directly opposite the city of Liverpool.
  • Extending upwards as far as the eye can see, and visible on a clear day from up to 100 km away, the column will disappear and re-appear in slow structured sequences, punctuating the skyline whilst connecting it with the city and its docks.
  • Projected Column will recycle discarded local heat, and, day or night, will operate as a self-sustaining system.
South East
The Boat Project
by Lone Twin (Gary Winters and Gregg Whelan)
For The Boat Project Lone Twin will ask the people of the South East to donate a wooden object of personal significance, be it a favourite pencil, a much used dining table, or the garden shed, to be used in the building of a sea-faring boat.
The community, guided by a professional boat builder and using a combination of traditional and contemporary construction techniques, will then build a boat from the donated wood. The boat and a book collecting the stories of the contributors will be launched in May 2012.
Crewed by trained community members, the boat will make a two-week maiden ‘Olympic’ voyage in June 2012, becoming the focus of four celebratory arts events.
South West
nowhereisland
by Alex Hartley
For nowhereisland Alex Hartley will bring Nymark, an island he discovered in the High Arctic region of Svalbard in 2004, to the South West of England. The island, about the size of a football pitch, consists of rubble and moraine around a small amount of bedrock. It was revealed from within the melting ice of a retreating glacier and Alex was the first human to ever stand on it. The island has been recognised by the Norwegian Polar Institute and is now named and included on all maps and charts.
A portion of the island will be transported to South West England through international waters and whilst en route will apply for micronation status. The new ‘micronation’, nowhereisland will navigate the entire 702 miles of the coast of the South West region, visiting its ports and harbours accompanied by a travelling embassy/support vehicle.
The project explores climate change, land ownership, national identity and the exploitation of the Earth’s remaining natural resources. At the end of the Olympic year, the island will return to the Arctic to be made whole again.
Scotland
Forest Pitch
Craig Coultard
Craig Coulthard’s Forest Pitch involves a football pitch hidden within a forest. Trees are felled to make way for a football pitch and used to create a stand, goalposts and a shelter that will act as both changing room and exhibition space. One football match is scheduled to be played on the pitch, open to spectators and once the match has taken place, the pitch will be left to become taken over by nature again. The changing room is kept as a simple exhibition space to document the project.
The pitch itself, with surrounding infrastructure will become a living relic of the Olympics, in contrast to the new buildings created in London for the Games.
Wales
ADAIN AVION
by Marc Reed
For ADAIN AVION, a fuselage of an abandoned DC9 airplane is recycled and transformed into a mobile art space. It will travel across Wales ‘nesting’ in different locations having arrived at the site pulled by a large team of local athletes, youth groups and other members of the community.
In each location the project will engage the community in a festivity marking the arrival of the plane in the form of a colourful procession, including a specially commissioned composition which will be played by local brass bands heralding the arrival of this migratory ‘bird’.
During the nesting week, a series of arts, cultural, sporting and community activities will take place in and around the space.
Shortlisetd for the commission were NVA and Red Earth. Both are companies represented here on the Directory.
The commissioning is developed by Arts Council England, with London 2012 and the arts councils of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

www.artiststakingthelead.org.uk

Buildings & Grounds – Student Interest in Sustainability Rises, Despite Lack of Curricular Support – The Chronicle of Higher Education

The National Wildlife Federation is releasing a report today that documents more than 160 student-led projects in sustainability and offers tips on how to start similar projects on campuses across the country.

Julian Keniry, director of the Campus Ecology program at the federation, said that the examples in the report document what many have observed about the current sustainability movement: There is unprecedented student interest in sustainability issues that has given rise to a diverse set of activities.

Ms. Keniry also said interest in sustainability cuts across some geographic and political demographics. “We have been impressed by the breadth of involvement,” she said. “They are schools small and large, state, public, and private.”

via Buildings & Grounds – Student Interest in Sustainability Rises, Despite Lack of Curricular Support – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

RSA sets up Arts for COP15 network

RSA sets up Arts for COP15 network

The RSA Arts & Ecology Centre has set up the web-based network, Arts For COP15, for artists and arts professionals who are producing work in the run up to and during the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 09.

It is designed as a site to

  • publicise arts events that relate to COP15
  • Share knowledge and resources with other artists and arts professionals
  • discuss how arts strategy around climate and social change can evolve
  • research into the range and success of these projects
  • use arts to increase the noise around COP15
  • encourage artists and arts professionals who are producing work that is about the environment over the next few months to consider using the event as a way of discussing COP15 with their audiences.
For more information, contact Wiliam Shaw, webeditor at the RSA Art & Ecology Centre.

www.arts4cop15.org
www.rsaartsandecology.org.uk

Ghost Forest by Angela Palmer, Trafalgar Square

It’s an amazing achievement, to unlock this space for this kind of exhibit. The crowds I saw were drawn to the sheer strangeness and hugeness of the shapes of the trees, which are supposed to link the ideas of deforestation and climate change. Angela Palmer has done something remarkable in persuading the Mayor’s office to let her use this space for this work. Its scale and ambition makes the current occupant of the Fourth Plinth look rather irrelevant.

But, being honest, I’m not sure it works that well, either as a polemic or as art; I’m not sure it left people convinced. Palmer had originally envisaged the stumps as standing straight up, which would have made it easier to understand them as the leavings of human greed, rather than the lumber they look like. I’m guessing that it simply wasn’t practical to display the stumps like that. And the huge text billboards seemed to be as much about Palmer’s struggle to realise the work, with Antony Gormley saying “the project can’t be done”, as they were about the issue of deforestation and simply added a level of  Fitzcaraldo-in-reverse hubris. (This is like dragging the rainforest to the opera-house rather than vice versa).

When artists create events like this why don’t they let the art speak for itself and instead work closely with an NGO who can make the polemic explicit on site, and far more effectively?

Anyway, please disagree with me.

www.ghostforest.org

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology