You still have one week to catch the shortlisted shows for the Sustainable Production Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. If you haven’t caught the list of productions which have stood out to our team of Judges, here are all 23.
If you’re in Edinburgh this week and want to join us for the awards ceremony on Friday the 23rd at 4:00 pm at Fringe Central, make your free reservation here:
For a teenager what’s worse? Growing up in America? Or growing up after America? Five young people face the struggles of their post-nuclear lives, in a wasteland that was once America, after the Cold War turned hot. They strive to overcome the oppressive authority of their parents and teachers, the hopelessness of the crater that they call home, and a dark sickness that threatens everything they hold dear.
Chris has lovingly repaired his family Triumph Herald Estate so that he can drive it from his home in Colchester to Rome. Part investigation into his father’s account of his time as a Polish soldier in the Italian Campaign and part muse on consumerism, this show brings together car mechanics, classical civilisation and the fetishisation of possessions in a solo performance using old photos, new film and surprising mechanical objects. A feast of razor-sharp observations and bizarre confessions extending beyond the immediate subject matter to grasp at universal truths. Total Theatre, Poland 3, Iran 2.
The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer
Seas have risen, billions have died. Alvin Sputnik is our only hope. He must venture to the bottom of the ocean to find his wife’s lost soul and save humanity. Direct from sell-out seasons in New York, Sydney and Auckland, this multi award-winning piece of heart-warming ‘theatrical magic’ (Sunday Mail) is a one-man micro epic about enduring love and the end of the world. ‘Akin to a theatrical Wall-E’ (New York Times). Winner, Outstanding Solo Show, New York International Fringe Festival. Winner, Best Theatre Production, Auckland Fringe. Winner, Best Puppetry, Adelaide Fringe.
Angus – Weaver of Grass
Angus MacPhee’s life is a tale of illness, lost traditions and magical hats of grass, stunning like sunbursts. Raised on South Uist, and traumatised by WWII, Angus spent 50 years in a psychiatric hospital. He did not speak; instead he wove remarkable costumes from grass which feature in the Collection de l’Art Brut, Switzerland. Featuring beautiful Gaelic singing and grass replicas by Joanne B Kaar. Using sounds, songs and images of the Outer Hebrides, this is his tale. ‘Physical, emotional and aural beauty… their collective artistry is awesome.’ (Stage). www.horseandbamboo.org
Even the best and wisest amongst us do things we later regret… Under the bleak skyline of the industrial revolution, a company assembles to pass judgement on the greatest of a generation. In this gritty, steampunk-inspired retelling of the classic, an ensemble of actor-musicians and puppets bring to life the fall of John Faustus. In the bowels of the industrial revolution, change is brewing. A particular kind of hunger is bubbling inside one of the world’s most powerful minds, and when an offer is made that promises to satisfy that hunger, he makes a choice. A bargain. With the devil.
Flying drum kits, levitating ironing boards and swinging divas. Welcome to the world of the unexpected! Irreverent and silly, bold and breathtaking, take flight with Flown for a captivating afternoon at the circus. A stunning troupe of masterful acrobats, aerialists, dancers, musicians and stuntmen are putting on a show for you. The problem is, the show has already started and no one is prepared. Taking you to dizzying heights and beyond, Pirates of the Carabina invite you to share in the thrills, fear and physical feats that define the life of a 21st-century circus artist.
The Garden tells the tale of a couple living on the 10th floor of a high rise block, at a time when humanity has run out of resources, who discover hope in the form of a strange tree that grows through the floor of their kitchen. ‘Compelling performances … astonishingly expressive vocal lines’ **** (Scotsman). ‘An astonishingly moving portrait of a loving couple at the end of their tether’ (Joyce McMillan, Scotsman, for the original play). Cast: Pauline Knowles, Alan McHugh, Libretto/Direction: Zinnie Harris, Composer: John Harris. Commissioned by Sound Festival. First sell-out performances in Aberdeen, 2012. www.patersonsland.co.uk
Garden O’ Delight
Journey back in time and join magical creatures who live in this beautiful world. But someone wants to destroy it forever. Outside, promenading, interactive family fun with an ecological theme. Music by John Sampson.
The Gypsybird Speaks
Dark times have befallen the forest clearing where a journalist, a director, a painter, and a witch lament the lost Philena. Devoured by the gypsy moths, the forest crumbles slowly as the mysterious prophet Asphodel draws near. Entwined in the forest mythology the characters delve deep into one another’s psyche, a magnetism they are powerless to avoid. Fresh new writing in the spirit of the Brothers Grimm, for grown-ups.
There are all sorts of lessons to be learned in life. How to get served at the bar. How to crash a boardroom meeting. How to avoid becoming romantically attached to an undercover police officer. That sort of thing. In this playful and provocative show about protest, you’ll learn how to do all of this and more. Funny, surprising, and not a little sad, How to Occupy an Oil Rig is for everyone who ever wanted to change anything. And that’s everyone. You get to play with plasticine, too. Produced by ARC Stockton.
The award-winning interactive performance/installation and fully-functioning cafe returns! Expect a playful exploration into customer expectation, where food, service and business are the art. Festival staples, includes the sensational signature dish, the roast dinner sandwich which can be found on the menu alongside Coco-Pops, Battenberg and beans on toast. With guest waiters, themed days and activities such as their much loved Not Great Bake-off. We are here to serve. Prepare for appetites to be satisfied in more ways than one. ‘A must-visit Fringe experience’ **** (Scotsman). ‘Holly Darton and Jenny Hunt are wowing the Fringe’ (Observer).
2046. Great Britain is underwater, except for one tiny island with a population of two: Marilyn (28, ruthless survivalist) and Josie (17, childlike). They don’t get on. A new darkly comic play about national identity, friendship and tennis, Island State is the story of two women’s struggle to keep going in the face of environmental catastrophe. ‘Quirky, dark and ultimately surprising … a striking portrayal of human nature and all its intricacies’ **** (DurhamTheatreReview.com). Winner: Best New Writing and Best Actress, Durham Drama Festival 2013.
This is the moment that the real life of the plastic bag begins its own life without us. An ethereal and magical performance art piece, accompanied by the classic Debussy music. A ballet mistress has created a piece of choreography performed by plastic dancers, propelled by currents of air on the lyrical music. The piece transports the viewers, sitting on the stage, to a world where the laws of gravity no longer exist and boundless adventures await. A beautiful journey that ignites the imagination.
Last Land is inspired by frozen plains and dusty desert majesty. Maria Nilsson Waller reconstructs the vast scale and unpredictability of these contrasting landscapes in a highly physical, poetic work that invites us to consider the urgency of tectonic movement and the accelerating rhythms of nature and climate change. In award-winning Fabrizio Favale’s solo, Il gioco del gregge di capre, the dynamics of goats flocking are seen and re-imagined with the clashing of horns and the crashing of hooves.
An impossible attempt to bring the whole universe into a theatre and into our understanding, using a tennis ball, a wastepaper basket and a dash of theatrical invention. Iain Johnstone’s passionate solo performance about the relationship between humanity and the heavens is full of facts and awkward questions. Funny and serious, intelligent and silly, theatre and lecture, cosmic and personal, One Giant Leap asks us to think – about what we take for granted and about what we choose to ignore. www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com
For the past two years Dan Canham (DV8 / Kneehigh / Punchdrunk) has been capturing conversations with people of the Fens, East Anglia. Eel-catchers, farmers, parish councillors, conservationists have all been interviewed. In this ethereal piece of documentary dance/theatre, Dan and his ensemble fuse movement and sound with words and memories from their native collaborators to get to the heart of this mysterious expanse of flat land, celebrating universal stories of rural communities fading from view. Exhilarating, poetic look at the inevitability of change from the voices of those who still know the old words.
In a decrepit and bankrupt city, God’s body was found dead in a Sainsbury’s car park. Since then, the annual Holy PG Tips competition has been held allowing citizens to audition to become the new God. Pigmalion is training his daughter to seduce God, believing He will come back from the dead and marry her. The play descends into the distorted perversion of building a family when all external structures have failed. Harrowing, dauntless, and deeply moving – Pigmalion Zoo doesn’t hesitate to expose the dangerous side of desire as it slowly corrupts nature itself.
How much is beauty worth? What will people pay for an air guitar on eBay? Can I have a glass of milk? These urgent questions and others are answered in this performance lecture about value. Daniel Bye’s whistle-stop tour of bizarre facts and impassioned arguments is occasionally shambolic and often misleading but always a joy to watch. Comic, provocative and possibly a tiny bit sad, this show is a must if you’ve ever wondered about the difference between the price of an object and its value. And you get a free glass of milk.
Ragamala’s Artistic Directors Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy create visceral, universal experiences that use Indian dance (Bharatanatyam) to express their contemporary point of view. Sacred Earth explores the interconnectedness between human emotions and the environments that shape them. Inspired by the philosophies behind the ephemeral arts of Kolam and Warli and the Tamil Sangam literature of India, Sacred Earth is Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy’s singular vision of the beautiful, fragile relationship between nature and man. Performed with live music; featuring guest Warli artist Anil Vangad. ‘Rapturous and profound … an excellent company’ (New York Times).
What makes something worth standing up for? Can I change the world from my living room? What if I’m protesting, my costume rips and a picture of me naked ends up going viral? Inspired by courageous protesters who risk everything for what they believe in, four women find quirky ways to effect change in the world around them. Charting the performers attempts to stand up for what they believe in, The Smallest Light uses exciting visual storytelling to tell four explosive stories about what it is that makes us act.
Are you ready for the experiment? Who’s next? Internationally renowned multiple award-winning performers Tanya Khabarova (Derevo) and Yael Karavan (Karavan Ensemble) invite you on an epic voyage into the mysteries of what we are made of, transporting us through archetypes, icons and the ancestors within us. Step into the laboratory for a spectacular journey through astonishing imagery, time and art – a feast for the eyes and mind. ‘Beautiful, extraordinary – a match made in heaven … an intoxicating play between two magnetic performers’. Total Theatre. ‘A dynamic performance that blew everyone away.’ Latest 7 ****
From Dallas, Texas, comes this smart solo comedy about love, old movies, great literature and unfinished jumpers. Like craft night with more laughs! Nora Ephron with needles! `Don’t talk to me about acrylic yarn,’ says writer/performer Elaine Liner, ‘it’s cheap and loud, like the Real Housewives of Atlanta.’ Knit and crochet during a show (yes, bring your stuff!) that’ll have you in stitches. Come early to the knit-in and add rows to the travelling scarf. Afternoon performance in air-conditioned venue. Suitable for all ages. `Elaine’s hilarious stories add up to a well-spun yarn’ (TheaterJones.com).
New two-man musical from the people behind Dinosaur Planet, Hey Hey 16K and Moon Horse, featuring superheroes, robots, pirates, kittens and a free badge. ‘Like two drunk dads getting up and singing at a barbecue’ (BBC Radio 1).
Chongqing XI, Series: Yangtze, The Long River, Chongqing, China 2007 by Nadav Kander
Just over a week ago Nadav Kander was named as winner of the excellent 2009 Prix Pictet, the prize given to photography on the theme of environmental sustainability. Last year’s shortlist, which included Benoit Aquin, Edward Burtynsky, David Maisel and others, produced a really astonishing collection of images on the theme of Water; it showed how powerful photography can still be when it inhabits the zone between art and documentary.
This year the theme, Earth, produced equally sock-knocking results; Britain’s Nadav Kander was up against Darren Almond, Edward Burtynsky (again) and Andreas Gursky and others. I’ve blogged about the brilliant shortlist previously.
Maybe because they’re part documentarists, there’s something very pithy about photographer’s artists’ statements that I really like. Here’s part of Kander’s artists’ statement about the whole Yangtze, The Long River project:
The Yangtze River, which forms the premise to this body of work, is the main artery that flows 4100miles (6500km) across China, travelling from its furthest westerly point in Qinghai Province to Shanghai in the east. The river is embedded in the consciousness of the Chinese, even for those who live thousands of miles from the river. It plays a significant role in both the spiritual and physical life of the people.
More people live along its banks than live in the USA, one in every eighteen people on the planet.
Using the river as a metaphor for constant change, I have photographed the landscape and people along its banks from mouth to source.
Importantly for me I worked intuitively, trying not to be influenced by what I already knew about the country. I wanted to respond to what I found and felt and to seek out the iconography that allowed me to frame views that make the images unique to me.
After several trips to different parts of the river, it became clear that what I was responding to and how I felt whilst being in China was permeating into my pictures; a formalness and unease, a country that feels both at the beginning of a new era and at odds with itself. China is a nation that appears to be severing its roots by destroying its past in the wake of the sheer force of its moving “forward” at such an astounding and unnatural pace. A people scarring their country and a country scarring its people…
From Baloji Mémoire, 2006 series by Sammy Baloji, Katanga, DRC
Sammy Baloiji is one of twelve photographers shortlisted for the 2009 Prix Pictet, a prize for photography about sustainability. The premise behind his series is simple – to superimpose photographs from the Congo’s colonial past over modern photographs of the consequences of that history. The Congo has been well and truly raped for minerals and other resources over the last century; for that see Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost. Also this blog post about Mongrel’s Tantalum Memorial.
The theme for the 2009 Prix Pictet was “Earth”. The 2009 shortlist is really phenomenal and includes work from the great Darren Almond, Yao Lu’s remarkable Chinese landscapes constructed from rubbish won the 2008 Paris Photo Prize, Edward Burtynsky’s scary/beautiful quarry photographs, and this series, again from quarries, from Naoya Hatakeyama: Blast #5707 by Naoya Hatakeyama, 1998 Japan