Sunday, 2 October 2011

London in the sun…

A final post to round off the week.

First, a few links to some interesting London-related projects. These suggestions came out of a chat with Rachel Lichtenstein, who was at the University to start her mentoring of three final-year students. For those of you who don’t know her work, here’s a good link, which refers both to her back-catalogue and current practice, and also introduces the arts lab Metal:

I’m a particular fan of Rachel’s book ‘Rodinsky’s Room’ - an extraordinary mix of memoir, history and detective story with chapter interventions by Iain Sinclair adding an almost visionary twist. Recently, she’s also been asked to contribute to a new collection ‘London Fictions’, which is all about contemporary writers commenting and critiquing some of the great London novels. Here’s the website to that project: And here’s a link to Artangel, which for twenty years has worked with experimental contemporary artists, often creating site-specific works designed to engage the audience in immersive experiences:

The question of ‘the audience’ also cropped up in my second Making Plays class. Although I missed it myself, there was an interesting show at The Edinburgh Festival this year going by that name. This next article talks about the provocative ways it confronted its spectators. We also talked a bit about Peter Handke, whose plays ‘Offending the Audience’ and ‘The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other’ interrogate the boundaries between spectator, voyeur and performer.

In my third-year tutorials on Friday, our discussion moved to the relationship between a character and their value systems. A common characteristic of classical storytelling is a protagonist who attempts to honour a particular value at all costs (the pursuit of power or love, self preservation / revenge / freedom). The story’s movement in the direction of tragedy or comedy turns on whether a destructive value system can finally be rejected, or a positive one maintained to the end. An extraordinary example of a value system bringing a character down is Ibsen’s play ‘Brand’, about a young idealist who refuses to compromise in his dedication to religion, even when the consequences of doing so prove disastrous to him and those he loves. It’s a play that left it’s mark on me in a very strong way, and has probably influenced many of my own feelings about the construction of dramatic writing.

Enough blogging, I think - time to enjoy some sunshine!

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