The Belgrade Theatre are stripping back their performances as Belgrade Unplugged returns this year. Hosted at various establishments across the city and beyond it’s a rare insight into the mechanics of rehearsal without all of the production values that the Belgrade brings to its shows.
Starting on Saturday 19th July at The Belgrade Theatre, Unplugged will be travelling to The Establishment in Coventry, Nicholas Chambers Almshouses, Bedworth, Upton House (part of the National Trust) in Warwickshire, The Map Room, Touchwood Shopping Centre in Solihull, Primrose Hill Park, Hillfields, Rubgy Art Gallery & Museum and the Lunt Roman Fort, Baginton. The locations offering both historic, contemporary and communal backdrops to the rehearsals and the actors whose only prop is of course the script. Performances are free (except for entry into Upton House) but advance booking is essential. Click here for more information.
The War in Heaven (Photograph: Nina Sologubenko) CHORALE: A Sam Shepard Roadshow, The Presence Theatre Company
The War in Heaven, Sam Shepard
“I died the day I was born and became an Angel on that day”
Whilst the non resolution of The Holy Ghostly was resolved powerfully both in terms of the scenography, the visual imagery and the performance by John Chancer this did not translate successfully in The War in Heaven which Usher describes as “a moving plea from both a fallen angel and a man struggling to be heard once more.” I would argue important contextual information was missing for the audience in the interpretation of this play especially following the The Holy Ghostly since the full title is The War in Heaven: Angel’s Monologue. Whilst The Animal You and The Holy Ghostly were connected conceptually and through the characters there was absolutely no connection to the final instalment except the fact that it was Sam Shepard’s work.
As a general rule visually I found the scene to be completely incoherent, which in itself is not a dismissal of the aesthetic, sculptural and conceptual qualities of this kind of work and its inherent complexities however it felt largely unresolved from a formal perspective. There was simply no connection between the performers in space and the set. Clearly narrative and visual incoherence are conceptual strategies and the production appeared to commit to this concept as an overall architecture to the work. The play itself is on many levels trying to find form through language within a stream of consciousness speech but my feeling is it didn’t go far enough and was therefore caught somewhere between the concept and the execution. If this disconnection is a formal aspect of the work it is possible to resolve the visually incoherent formally but there seemed to be a failure to commit to the intention and make it concrete.