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#chekhov draws critical role
thechekhov · 2 months ago
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Enforced Prestidigitation after every single fight in an underground ruins of an ancient city can be so personal...
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vileart · 4 years ago
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Hunger Dramaturgy: Sinking Ship @ Edfringe 2017
Kafka’s Irresistible Puppet Master
Physical theatre company Sinking Ship Productions has won widespread praise for their stage version of Kafka’s A Hunger Artist, which they are bringing to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
In the title role, Lecoq-trained performer and puppeteer Jonathan Levin is giving “possibly the best solo performance of the year” (New York Irish Arts). 
What was the inspiration for this performance?
It was equal parts frustration with the direction of live performance in the US and a soft spot for Kafka. I miss the old vaudeville presentational stuff, with red curtains, footlights, and over-the-top theatrical gestures, so I thought why not use Kafka’s story about the death and decline of Hunger Artists to also talk about the death and decline of that kind of theatricality. 
And at the same time use things like miniature “toy theatre” (which were big in the 1800s), travelling vaudeville trunks, and red curtains to tell the story.
Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?
It’s certainly better than a comment board.
The main limitation, I think, on the relevance of performance is that it reaches a finite and relatively small number of people. But when done well, it is still one of the most visceral, empathetic art forms. Maybe “empathy” is a strange way to answer a question about ideas, but it’s essential to understanding. 
The audience is required to participate in the act of imagination, or you don’t have a show. So it’s never passive. And you are in a group, almost always. You can’t sit at home and watch alone, and there’s no screen mediating between you and the performer. 
In a world that feels increasingly lacking in empathy, performance feels absolutely necessary.
How did you become interested in making performance?
There were a couple of shows I saw that really blew my mind at various points in my life, and I think I’m still trying to process/recreate those experiences: Mabou Mines’ Peter and Wendy, Pig Iron’s Chekhov Lizardbrain, and a puppet company called Wakka Wakka. 
Each one had this incredible sense of magic, imagination and theatricality that I’ve been striving to find my own flavour of… Maybe we’re all just chasing the theatrical dragon so to speak.
Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
We went into this project with some major storytelling limitations, namely: how can we adapt this story about an ascetic performance artist who spends most of his time inside a cage in a theatrically dynamic, constantly surprising way using only one performer? 
And the more we began to translate the piece into a series of contained character bits/clowning set pieces the more we found ourselves navigating even more self-imposed limitations and conventions. 
But these sort of artistic boundaries, while restricting, encourage a tremendous sense of play and problem solving in a room that was basically working through absurdist trial and error.
The piece was built collaboratively, with the three core company members being performer Jonathan Levin, writer Josh Luxenberg, and director Joshua William Gelb. We worked together from the start to pull apart Kafka’s story, find the theatrical translation, and create the staging. Playing off each other allowed us to create an intricate, interconnected work.
Does the show fit with your usual productions?
In a way, it’s a distillation of Sinking Ship’s work. All our other shows have been large casts - and too big to travel with. We built this one with Edinburgh in mind. 
Of course - and maybe this is a hallmark of our shows - we find it hard to think small. So we packed a ton of stuff into this (not so little) trunk show. The content of the plays we’ve made has been wildly different. What connects it all is a love of surprise, delight, and inventiveness (especially as an avenue to discussing big or hard ideas and feelings), an emphasis on physical, visual theatre (often with a dose of puppetry), and total integration of every element of performance. 
We believe that anything the audience sees is part of the show, which means we give as much consideration to a scene change as a scene.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?
A Hunger Artist is at its core about the relationship between the performer and the audience. So while this is technically a solo show, the audience plays an integral part. You might even call some moments “participatory” (though if that word gives you pause, don’t worry, it’s not like you’ve seen it before). 
As the trajectory of the Hunger Artist’s career shifts from prestige to anonymity, so to does the audience’s experience shift from the comfort of clown to the inevitably Kafkaesque. The performance, and in particular our central prop, a large theatrical touring trunk, is filled with surprises that will delight, astonish, and perhaps even disturb.
What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
Without giving too much away, a portion of the show, as mentioned above, relies on some cleverly guided audience participation. So we’ve spent whole workshops devoted to figuring out what works, what doesn’t, what’s fun, and what’s not, when involving the unpredictable element of the audience on stage. 
We’ve come away with something that seems a little magical, to the point that everyone seems to think the audience participants are plants. They’re not!
In common with Kafka’s celebrated Metamorphosis, the story draws people into a world somehow familiar and yet extraordinarily strange.
    The story opens with an account of how cheering, laughing crowds once flocked to see the hunger artist who starved in a cage for 40 days and 40 nights at a time for their entertainment. 
What then unfolds is a powerful piece of physical theatre mixed with elements of puppetry. The seemingly whimsical nostalgia for a lost art form rapidly transforms into a troubling trip into the nature of memory, art and spectatorship.
Although never explicitly addressed, there is a disquieting sense that the forces, frailties and fascinations Kafka exposed in 1922 were linked to the rise of fascism back then and of far right populism today.
Levin says: “It’s a dark tale, but there is lots of humour which is something we really bring out in the production. We’ve tried to make it very fresh and physical, so there’s always lots going on. New York has been great and now we are looking forward to the biggest challenge of them all – the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.” 
Created collaboratively by Levin, writer Josh Luxenberg, and director Joshua William Gelb, A Hunger Artist is crossing the Atlantic to Edinburgh following its successful run at the historic Connelly Theater in New York’s East Village. It is packed with transformations and there are so many people on the stage that it never has the sense of being a solo show.
A Hunger Artist has further cemented the reputation of the Brooklyn-based Sinking Ship, garnering considerable critical acclaim: "Boisterously funny and chokingly sad,” Blogcritics; “An unflagging sense of theatrical invention, Lighting & Sound America; “Beautifully imagined… full of heart,” Culturebot.
Listings details
•  Theatre
•  Venue: Zoo (Venue 124) 140, Pleasance, EH8 9RR
•  Dates: 4 to 28 August
•  Time: 17:45
•  Duration: 70 minutes 
•  Guidance: None
•  Tickets:  £9 to £11
•  Box office: 0131 662 6892
•  Group: Sinking ShipProductions
from the vileblog http://ift.tt/2u7a3Gt
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frontporchlit · 5 years ago
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Bolaño Revisited by Jeff Karr
In the weeks after Trump's election I found it difficult to read and write. Art felt strange, futile, maybe even immoral. The country had been suckered by a pervert and a racist who constitutes a serious threat to some of society's most vulnerable populations, and here I was in an MFA program, talking about plot and point of view and the believability and humanity of people who don't exist. I thought about rereading All the Kings Men, like maybe it'd help me identify some faint sliver of humanity in the recently elected führer, but I couldn't get past the first page. Instead, I reread Roberto Bolaño's By Night In Chile. 
This was the right decision. 
Whenever I read Bolaño I'm reminded of a quote from Chekhov's letters: "You are right in demanding that an artist should take an intelligent attitude to his work, but you confuse two things: solving a problem and stating a problem correctly. It is only the second that is obligatory for the artist." 
In his work Bolaño probed his own anxieties and questions about the role of art in a country whose central authority had fallen into chaos and totalitarianism. He was a voracious reader and writer, and yet his work evinces a haunting skepticism of literature and literary culture. 
In By Night in Chile, the narrator, a priest and literary critic, tucks himself away from the violence of the military coup and reads the Greek classics. He writes a review of a novel called White Dove: "I gave it a good review, you might say I hailed it in glowing terms, although deep down I knew it wasn't much of a book." Set against a backdrop of violence and terror, the priest's literary preoccupations come across as grotesque and immoral, an avoidance for which Bolaño seems to believe his narrator should be made to answer. 
Bolaño simultaneously revered and reviled literature, so it's no surprise that some aspects of his work are decidedly unliterary. His sentences are deadpan and often emotionally flatlined. He's not one for metaphor or analogy, and much of his work forsakes such fundamental conventions as paragraph indentation, quotation marks, and page breaks, as though he's trying to distract from the fact that what you're reading is indeed a work of literature. His narrators are often engaged in a kind of secondhand storytelling. They tell stories other characters have told them, and they gain narrative authority by surrendering any pretense of narrative authority.
Embedded in most of Bolaño's work is a mystery concerning the disappearance of a particular writer or artist. In the short story "Last Evenings on Earth" a young man named "B" vacations with his father in Acapulco. He spends much of the trip dwelling on the disappearance of Gui Rosey, a surrealist poet who went missing in Nazi-occupied France. Toward the end of the novel Distant Star, the narrator has moved to Spain and has decided to go in search of a fictional propagandist named Carlos Wieder. When he finds Wieder in a cafe, the narrator turns his attention back to the collected works of Bruno Schulz, the painter and surrealist writer who was shot and killed by a Gestapo officer in Nazi-occupied Poland: "I felt that Wieder’s lifeless eyes were scrutinizing me, while the letters on the pages I was turning (perhaps too quickly) were no longer beetles but eyes, the eyes of Bruno Schulz, opening and closing, over and over, eyes pale as the sky, shining like the surface of the sea, opening, blinking, again and again, in the midst of total darkness. No, not total, in the midst of a milky darkness, like the inside of a storm cloud."
By all accounts Bolaño felt a tremendous sense of guilt about leaving Chile to pursue a life dedicated to poetry. He used his work to grapple with the confluence of emotions this created in him. His allusions to surrealist writers are contrasted with the deadpan realism of his prose. His work calls to mind Theodor Adorno's quote that "there can be no poetry after Auschwitz." For Bolaño, no work of literature could adequately capture the scale of suffering the people of Chile experienced during the coup. This realization led him to reinvent the form of the novel and use it as a space in which he could examine his conflicting thoughts and feelings about literature itself. None of this is to say that literature could ever function as a substitute for meaningful political action. Bolaño certainly didn't feel that way. Right now the United States' defining characteristic might be its burgeoning fascism. The importance of active engagement cannot be overstated, but Bolaño's work can serve as proof that when it comes time to sit down and write, maybe our anxiety about doing so is in and of itself a fruitful resource to draw from. 
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thechekhov · 6 months ago
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Just a little speculation regarding that very first time Essek agreed to teach Caleb dunamancy. Frumpkin is never far, after all... and I like to think that cat is always up in everyone’s business.
And while we’re here, some bonus Caleb:
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Are you talking to the cat or yourself, Caleb? 
(you can check out my other cr fanart at #chekhov-draws-critical-role)
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thechekhov · 4 months ago
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When you get a chance to perhaps go beyond the limits of all known magic and manipulate the flow of time itself, regardless of consequence, and go back in time to change history...................
but you know it’s a bad idea..... 
but it’s hella tempting. 
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thechekhov · 5 months ago
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I love Veth and I also have no idea how long she and Caleb survived on their own given her predisposition to explosives and his crippling firebug syndrome.  
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thechekhov · 5 months ago
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I really wanted to draw this, without any specific direction, and ended up struggling to get the script right. But there’s a beauty to leaving things as they are, I suppose. 
So hereyago, just a really sad Yasha comic about episode 86. 
(you can find my other CR fanart at #chekhov draws critical role)
I’m still in the process of watching CR2 for the first time, so if you comment or tag spoilers, I WILL come to your house and unplug your fridge.
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thechekhov · 6 months ago
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I loved this scene a little too much… and decided it needed its own rendition. 
Welcome to Being An Adopted NPC, Essek. Good luck getting out of this one.
12 Persuation, huh. 
(you can find more of my cr fanart at #chekhov-draws-critical-role)
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thechekhov · 6 months ago
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“She loves you so so so so much. She came all this way to find you!”
(you can find more of my cr fanart at #chekhov-draws-critical-role)
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thechekhov · 7 months ago
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Fjord and Nott’s absolutely feral ‘I’m gonna fucking kill you, but also, no one else gets to kill you except me’ sibling energy is sending me. 
(you can find more of my cr fanart at #chekhov-draws-critical-role)
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thechekhov · 5 months ago
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Don’t worry Fjord, they’re barely aware you’re even there. 
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thechekhov · 5 months ago
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The Court(ing) of the Jester
(you can find more of my CR fanart at #chekhov draws critical role)
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thechekhov · 7 months ago
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Here’s a Health to the Company (Youtube link)
I’m not even halfway through Critical Role Campaign 2, and already a new story is starting. I’ve grown incredibly attached to these characters already, and their pirate arc has been a fun mess of so many emotions. What better way to deal with that than sea shanties? 
(you can find more of my cr fanart at #chekhov-draws-critical-role)
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thechekhov · 8 months ago
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Slight spoilers for cr 2, but nothing too serious. 
Loved the mental breakdown Caleb underwent throughout episode 21. 
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Also, props to Liam for fully committing to having mini breakdowns and staying in character the whole time.
(You can check out other fanart on the tag #chekhov draws critical role)
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thechekhov · 3 months ago
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The Reluctant Puppetmaster
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thechekhov · 4 months ago
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Hey, what if we were wizards exploring Aeor together and we refused to back down from the challenge of an anti-magic staircase and it ended in shenanigans. 
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thechekhov · 6 months ago
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Sam and Matt made me cry with Yeza and Veth's reunion, so here's to the power couple. I love her newfound confidence as she drags her tiny, nerdy, squishy husband around town.
(you can find more of my cr fanart at #chekhov-draws-critical-role)
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thechekhov · 7 months ago
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I have no idea what I’m even doing anymore, but I got to episode 33 and absolutely had to draw out Sassy Caleb, who has finally HAD IT with these tower shenanigans. 
I honestly find it endearing how he’s finally comfortable enough with the group to sass at them, or at least at Beau and Fjord. You know what that is? Growth.
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