The Last Songs of Lucan LIVE!

Happy to announce there will be a live screening of our short film The Last Songs of Lucan, with percussion from Jamie Misselbrook, at the Voila! Festival at the Cockpit on Thursday 3rd November, 10pm.

You can view the new trailer for the film here

An Heroic Death at Bath Fringe

We are delighted to announce that our short film An Heroic Death has been selected by Liberated Words to feature in their Utopia/Dystopia festival as part of Bath Fringe this June.

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The festival, made up of short films by top international poetry filmmakers, commemorates the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia, and takes place on the 2nd June at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. More details, including Box Office, can be found here.

The film was also selected to appear in the MC Experimental Video festival in New York earlier this year.

An Heroic Death is a short film made by Ryan Kiggell and Olivia Rose from GoodDog theatre co. It is based on the prose poem by Charles Baudelaire, about a condemned fool forced to perform for a cruel and capricious king.

An Heroic Death

We are extremely pleased to present this short film “An Heroic Death” for your pleasure and amusement.

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We made it in collaboration with the wonderful GoodDog Theatre Co – an ensemble of recent graduates from L’Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris with whom we have been working since the Summer.

“An Heroic Death” forms part of a longer film, “The Last Songs of Lucan”, based on the poetry collection “Le Spleen de Paris” by Charles Baudelaire. This is a 17 minute silent film accompanied by live percussion by Jamie Misselbrook.

Please have a look, and if you like it share it!

 

Clown phobia and the demise of the imagination.

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I recently watched a BBC documentary by Nina Conti about clowning. For the film, she courageously gave up her famous ventriloquist act to work in children’s hospital wards as a clown. In order to do this, she underwent a rigorous two year training with an established childrens charity, supported by her own self-directed training regime (with Gaulier and the like). She failed honourably in her training and in doing so got some real glimpses of the elusive essence and mysterious power of clowning. Then she faced an aberration. The word “clown” was banned by the charity she was working with, along with red noses. Effectively clowns were abolished. Even the word “clown”. They were to be “giggle doctors” and without the red nose became, in the words of one of the practitioners, “just annoying adults”. The administrators of the charity were motivated by an apparent phobia of clowns on the part of the their regular funders.

Many people hate clowns. Particularly adults, and, I think, justifiably so. These days the word “clown” evokes images of alcoholic children’s entertainers, or over-dressed passive aggressive circus clowns. People naturally rebel against enforced fun – things like Red Nose Day haven’t really helped the clown image.

So what is clown really? First a disclaimer. Clowns are subversive and unpredictable, and they do not follow our rules. Any definition  will inevitably be written by the dread hand of rationalisation and control – two things anathema to clowns.  Clowns exist half in the dream world, on the edge of madness. As right thinking cause-and- effect types, we hate this, and will secretly try almost anything to counter it. Even when creating and performing our own clowns, as Nina Conti discovered, we sabotage our own good intentions as we settle too quickly on interpretation, routine, control, technique. Any actor will testify to the mystery of real, joyful comedy. But if you watch my two year old for half an hour, you might get an idea. Like a clown, she is right on the edge of language and consciousness. She has a spontaneous and naïve rhythm of existence, with uninhibited gesture, expression and lightening speed of thought. And she understands clown instinctively – she loves the subversion, and naughtiness – and frequently inspires it in others. Clowns are carnival creatures really, they bring the shadow, the magic, silliness and non-logic of life.

Whoever  originally set up the charity that put clowns in children’s hospitals must have known this. Hospitals are super-rational environments and with so much focus on process and safety are miserable places, ruled by absurd bureaucratic procedures and a strangely uncaring sort of spirit.  But healing is a mysterious process as well, and we are really only beginning to understand the part that laughter can play. More than just light relief,  the clown, with its irrepressible madness, can help create the kind of environment where healing can flourish more readily.

So if laughter really is the best medicine, why ban clowns from hospitals? It seems more and more that in arts and charity funding,  money dictates content. Security and predictability are all, which of course is a death knell for clown. Furthermore, there seems to be a growing intolerance of madness in our society. Watching Louis Theroux’s current documentary “By Reason of Insanity” it occurred to me how a combination of modern psychology and law could straitjacket us all into one antisocial or psychological disorder of some kind. I see in today’s paper that councils are now making things like busking, even pigeon feeding. illegal in town centres – anything “messy”. We are being tidied up, put in order. David Graeber in his recent book, The Utopia of Rules speaks of councils, offices, hospitals and the rituals that surround them as “the very machinery of alienation. They are the instruments through which the human imagination is smashed and shattered”.

Twas not always thus. During the Romantic period being mad was seen as a privilege, it allowed access to deeper truths. Freud spoke of “poetic madness” feeding the imagination, Jung of “wisdom and silliness” going “hand in hand”. Chaotic and irreverent, clowns have an almost archaic  power to throw open our horizons, inviting intelligence, imagination and healing. In the final sequence of Nina Conti’s documentary, having abandoned her work with the charity, she walked backwards across Westminster Bridge in red nose and full snorkeling gear. Behaviour that may soon be illegal, but for the time being an urgent call to be silly and not succumb to the dead zones of stupidity.

Postscript

I really enjoyed JL Circus performing their showcase Aspirations at Jacksons Lane on Saturday. 10-18 year olds delivering a good dose of fun and serious silliness – impressive acrobatics, dance routines and a chaotic awards ceremony rewarding fabulously bizarre identities crafted from outrageous wigs, animal masks, silly accents and finely delivered schtick before a backdrop of inverted trousers. My two year old loved it.

Posted by Ryan Kiggell

Jelinek’s Rechnitz at the Austrian Cultural Forum

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We have just finished a highly satisfying and invigorating period of work on Rechnitz, which has led us to some intriguing ideas and a sharing for a packed audience at the Austrian Cultural Forum.

We filmed the performance from various places around the Austrian Cultural Forum, and broadcast live, projecting the feed onto the wall of the main salon, before a live audience (See the screenshots above, and below)

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We have received a lot of encouraging and valuable feedback. Many thanks to performers Kristina Sorensen, Martin Behrman and Becky Smith Williams, and to the Austrian Cultural Forum for supporting the work.

Our approach to this intense, challenging piece has been long, necessitated by the size and complexity of the text, but we are now ready to take the project to the next stage.

For more info visit our website http://www.ayatheatre.com

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aya is five

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We are celebrating our first half decade – five years in which we have produced three major productions and numerous other events, performances and educational workshops – that have taken us from self-organised pop-up theatres to The Royal Festival Hall, from London to New York and back. This spring we continue to develop Rechnitz by Elfriede Jelinek, courtesy of the Austrian Cultural Forum London who have commissioned a presentation of our work so far. Through Factory Junction, our performance and rehearsal space in Battersea we support a growing network of like-minded theatre makers and artists while cultivating our own passion for progressive theatre. We will be hosting an inspirational new Director’s Workshop there in late May.

Many thanks to all the artists, supporters and audience that have made this first five years so extraordinary.

Darkness Spoken; the story of Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan

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We are delighted to have been invited by the Austrian Cultural Forum and the Southbank Centre to create a performance based on the recently published letters of Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann.

Theirs was an extraordinary, yet troubled, love affair and one which bore fruit to some of the finest literature to follow the Holocaust.

Director Ryan Kiggell is creating a dramatisation of the letters and poetry that combines spoken word with video and sound art.  To do this, he is working with collaborators old and new, including sound artist Aram Zarakian (aka Zitrone), video artists Roland Lindner and Diane Karner (of Decollage.tv), actors Rebecca Smith Williams and David Pica and dramaturg Áine McMurtry.

There will be two performances in October; the first, at 2.30pm pm on the 05 October, will form part of The Post War World weekend of The Rest Is Noise Festival at The Royal Festival Hall. Day or weekend tickets to the festival can be bought here. The second performance will take place at The Austrian Cultural Forum at 7 pm on the 16 October, marking 50 years since the death of Ingeborg Bachmann. Tickets can be reserved here.

We really hope to see you there!

Seldom Scene in full swing

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Our mini festival of  little known works by renowned writers is off to a great start.

Each month, a different member of aya curates a one off event that shares rare material in a fun, informal, salon-esque style. It’s a great opportunity to build our audiences and meet new collaborators,  whilst sharing our passion for challenging texts and experimental staging techniques.

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So far we have seen stagings of Naomi Wallace and Gertrude Stein (accompanied by a new piece by Bad Host) – and coming up this July a new translation of Heiner Mueller’s Philoctetes.

All events take place at Factory Junction – our space in Battersea.

We hope you can join us  – sign up to the mailing list to be sure to catch details of forthcoming events.

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More performances at The Rest is Noise

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We are excited to have been invited back by the Southbank Centre to perform at The Rest is Noise festival. This time Ryan will be performing a short escerpt from 1984 and reading Orwell’s essay A Hanging for their Art of Fear weekend.

These performances follow on from the success of Rilke’s Duino Elegies and Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London earlier in the year.

The readings will take place at the Weston Pavillion at 14.30 and 16.00, and you can find out how to buy day tickets here.

Later in the year, we will be performing a full length piece, Darkness Spoken, based on the correspondence between Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan. The piece has been  commissioned by the Austrian Cultural Forum London and is  a collaboration with sound artist Zitrone and video artists Decollage.

Stay tuned for more information – and hope to see you on Saturday.

Seldom Scene: A new season of monthly events

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We are excited to announce a new season of readings and one-off performances at Factory Junction, our space in Battersea. Seldom Scene, kicking off on May 1 at 7.30 pm, will comprise of informal monthly events , with each session curated by a different member of aya. True to our interests as a company, these salon-style evenings aim to offer audiences and fellow artists a chance to experience works that are unusual, off-the-grid,  or unfairly neglected.

Our first event will be a reading of The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek by Naomi Wallace.  Set amidst a Depression era town, it is a story about a young man on the brink of adulthood that combines brilliant imagery and innovative storytelling with a sharp social vision. Naomi Wallace is a prolific American playwright and poet who despite her wide international acclaim is relatively rarely produced in London.

Wednesday May 1, 7.30 pm, admission free (liquid donations accepted).