What I've tried to do, with this play, is fulfil the dictum that a good work of art can only create the opposite effect of its intention - that is I set out to lie based on truth, so that the audience would feel truth based on lies. It was a generous process - ground up, collective, energetic, exciting. And I think, amidst the obvious density of the play, people to get the gist.
The experience of writing and directing Mayakovsky (for the Land of Scoundrels night of theatre, at Rich Mix Cultural Foundation, for the Revolution 17 season, which opened this past Friday June 9th) has been a privilege, especially to be commissioned to do so. And It has not yet worn off, the experience of having good actors perform words I’ve mangled, and there is something undoubtedly intoxicating about theatre, as a practise, way beyond poetry and something before performance. It is so fundamentally collaborative, reactive, uncontrollable, inaccurate … it’s entirely alive and human, and the smallest change or development or gesture – be it physical or linguistic or intellectual – can shift entire narratives of meaning. It is a playground in that sense, in begins in failure and needs trust. These are things I am attracted to.
This play is modernist in its dialogue, it uses poetry and found text and slight disjunctions, but has a more theatrical, playful, physical tone - its definitely the most accessible thing I've written for the stage.. It’s about death, a very certain kind of nostalgic, faux romantic death, the death of a poet, who like the martyr he became, might not have needed to actually exist to serve his purpose. I’m always sure of what kind of writing I want to do for theatre, I feel confident in my purpose, but every time I do notice some in the audience sag under the weight and intricacy of what I'm trying to do, I do feel conflicted, if not saddened. There's something not quite there yet, I've not yet written anything brilliant. I just find realism and exaggeration and melodrama so offputting, so frightening, that I suppose at times I must be overcompensating.
Petra Freimund, a very experienced dramaturg has been a great person to share a double bill with, her experience invaluable, and my old friend Thomas Duggan has produced the most incredible set. His work has made my play. It is a spectacular sight, fitting for any theatre in the world.
The actors have been amazing, all of them generous and insightful, all of them taking the characters to the point I imagined and often beyond. Really it’s one the very best experiences I’ve had with a group of actors – they have worked so hard, so mindfully, with a real energy and dedication. Simon Christian, Edie Deffebach, Rebecca Dunn, Alec Bennie. They all have engaged with my text with great respect and on the final night, which was the best of three very good performances, I felt a sure sense of comfort that the characters had reached past what might’ve been expected. That perhaps there was some moments of brilliance in this work, and it was thanks to them.
Overall a grand thing, these three days of performances, and the short time in preparation, no more than a few meetings really, in what has been a production of extremely limited resource. Perhaps it has been so resonant because of this fact. Everyone is in it because they wish to be.
A brilliant project by Dash Arts, to erect a moveable Dasha outside the British Library, something they've done a fair few times and for this occasion, as part of the #Revolution17 season, I had the chance to be Velimir Khlebnikov for an hour, talking about my peer Vladimir Mayakovsky, in the summer of 1917, between the revolution's Russia faced that year. A really remarkable setting and atmosphere, the playful dictum that we were all from one hundred years ago, experiencing the momentous events of 1917 was a lovely conceit, it lended itself perfectly to mixed tenses and humour. I followed a rendition of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, pictured below, and began my guided conversation with Josephine Burton with a reading of Mayakovsky, stomping about the dacha. We then settled in to a long and fruitful discussion about the poet and the period, much of my research for my upcoming play, Mayakovsky, also for the #Revolution17, stood me in good stead. As ever Dash Arts doing fascinating work.
Mayakovsky : a play - Tickets on Sale : Rich Mix Theatre - 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA
Tickets now on sale for Mayakovsky, a play commissioned as part of the Revolution 17 season, marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution. Mayakovsky is part of a night entitled Land of Scoundrels, which features new works of innovative and post-dramatic theatre, intertwined and overlapping across one evening, from the likes of Viennese theatremaker / director /dramaturg Petra Freimund and Belarus Free Theatre member and dramaturg Larry Lynch, amidst a stunning original set designed by material engineer and artist Thomas Duggan.
I'm to write a new short play, called Mayakovsky, as part of a night of theatre at Rich Mix, commissioned for their Revolution 17 season, on the centenary of the Russian Revolution. It will be staged with an amazing set design by Thomas Duggan, who has designed for Vesterport's theatre's Faust recently amongst other things, and placed alongside new works by Austrian playwright Petra Freimund and Larry Lynch, who often works for the Belarus Free Theatre. We began our production proper this week and already the project is inspiring, I'm learning immensely from the experience of these three deeply intelligent people. Actors will be cast soon, a score written, and then we'll build to June 9th 10th 11th, which will be intense. www.stevenjfowler.com/mayakovsky
http://richmixlondon.tumblr.com/post/131017660468 Poet and martial artist Steven J Fowler writes about his first piece written for theatre:Dagestan. See it performed here on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th of October.
“Dagestan is a real place, or so I might read, or be told. At the moment, in Britain, it might as well not be, for our relationship to that place is non-existent. So it has been for many nations, until we have a reason to know they exist. What if we found something in Dagestan we needed, or wanted? What if something happened there that led us to announce our presence, and so define our relationship to this new and exotic place, this idea of the place? How do we do our announcing in a world after Iraq and Afghanistan, after the 21st century has begun, and where private military companies, with their own internal cultures, their own ‘special’ checks and balances, might be the first boots to hit the ground?
This is the context of my first play, a hypothetical question. But just as all professions seem to have their own internal language and logic, so Dagestan is also really about a closed, internal world of physical training, through the martial arts, and playful, innovative language. It is a play in the tradition of Beckett, or Pinter, and as Beckett said, “a play is not a simulation of life outside, any more than football is, or the circus, or a game of chess, but an activity in itself.” So it is with Dagestan, not merely as a snapshot of the world, but a way to represent aggression and vulnerability, strength and weakness, expression and physicality through the material of the theatre, that is, with the audience acknowledged, and with the actors switching from exhausting performance to energetic dialogue.
“A play is not a simulation of life outside, any more than football is, or the circus, or a game of chess, but an activity in itself.” - Samuel Beckett
With my own background in martial arts, it’s been an amazing experience developing a work-in-progress version of the play, something both physical and literary, working with brilliant actors Robin Berry, Maya Wasowicz, Steve North and Gareth Tempest, director Russell Bender and producer Tom Chivers, to make something we hope is truly unique. A play where knives and chokes sit comfortably with paradox and poetry.
Dagestan has become a non-place in this play, an idea, with its own internal logic, its own presence, that isn’t really real, but perhaps closer to the truth of something for that, for it is not pretend. It is wonderful to have the chance to take risks in theatre, to build upon ideas not immediately obvious or easy to digest, and that are far richer for that fact.”
ROBIN BERRY (CHAMBERLAIN)
Robin is a graduate of East 15 School of Acting. He has recently appeared in Silent Witness, New Tricks and Gigglebiz. He is a member of Andy Serkis’ Imaginarium company and is currently working on the new Jungle Book feature. His theatre credits include One Man Two Guvnors at the National Theatre and The Elephant Man (South East Asia tour).
GARETH TEMPEST (GLANTON)
Gareth is a graduate of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. His theatre credits includeAdventures in Wonderland at the Vaults, Twelfth Night at the Riverfront Theatre, UK tours of Macbeth and The Comedy of Errors and It’s A family Affair- We’ll Settle It Ourselves at Sherman Cymru.
MAYA WASOWICZ (JESSICA)
Maya is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Her theatre credits include Twelfth Night at the RSC, Design for Living at the Old Vic, Faith Machine at the Royal Court, The Thrill of Love at the St James’, and The Last of the de Mullins at the Jermyn Street. Her television credits include Mutual Friends, Wallander and Waking the Dead for the BBC. She has appeared in the films Huge and The Huntsman. Maya is producer for new theatre company Into the Wolf.
STEVE NORTH (HOLDEN)
Steve is an actor and filmmaker. He has played leading roles in theatre, television and film over the last twenty years. His screen credits include Closed Circuit, Mongrels,Doctor Who, EastEnders and EastEnders: E20, Is Harry on the Boat, The Day Britain Stopped, Midsomer Murders, Casualty, London’s Burning, Murphy’s Law, Holby City,Woof, South West Nine. Filmmaking credits include co-writing and appearing in the feature film South West 9 and he was Associate Producer The Football Factory. He co-wrote and produced the short film Through the K-Hole and directed the award winning short film Cregan for Screen South under the Digital Shorts scheme. His numerous theatre credits as an actor include War Horse in the West End, Shared Experience, Manchester Royal Exchange, Edinburgh Fringe First winning play Meeting Joe Strummerand a one man show west End run of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch. He plays guitar and sings for London band The Clones.
Dagestan is presented in three scratch performances on 16 and 17 October at Rich Mix, London. Click here to book your ticket.
really pleased & proud to feature in this wonderful program for Penned in the Margins.
index.php/2015/04/beyond-the-book-announcing-our-2015-programme/ my production is in October, visit the page and read the program to find out what it is! Wonderful company Im in too, with Hannah Silva's amazing show Schlock! and Ryan Van Winkle's new book the Good Dark