Let Slip presents Machines For Living
Let Slip presents Machines For Living
A huge thank you to everyone who supported Machines For Living at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe!
We had a great time and you can read all our press, Twitter love and see our photos here on our Storify page.
We owe a huge amount to our co-producing partners The Blue Elephant Theatre who commissioned the show for its first run in May and have supported us ever since. Click here to have a look at their fantastic new season programme!
In critiques of Mess by Caroline Horton at The Traverse this year, one word seems to come up over and over again: metatheatre.
I was surprised to see this word used quite so obsessively, perhaps because I associate it with my own over-use of it in over-excited undergraduate essays about Renaissance drama. Look, it’s everywhere! Yes, because all Renaissance drama and indeed most theatre ever has an awareness that it is theatre. It’s modern day naturalism which is the exception.
Mess also comes from an old theatrical tradition: clown. The esprit de clown is joyously well executed but there’s very little that is new in the form of Mess. It’s a long-established genre which takes ‘metatheatricality’ as a given. The genius is not in the metatheatricality per se but in the unexpected hybrid of clown and the subject of anorexia. Yet the word ‘clown’ is relatively hard to find in critiques of the show and, where it is used, it feels as though it’s being tossed around rather loosely.
For what it’s worth, I loved the show. At times I wondered if it should have been darker, more searing. But as for Lyn Gardner’s criticism that it focuses too much on symptoms rather than causes, I thought that was the most refreshing aspect. The people I have known with anorexia were anxious children who became anxious teenagers who became anorexic teenagers. It seems to me that they were born anxious. It never occurred to me to ask, ‘What made you this way?’
Of course, we should be angry about the way a certain female body image is aggressively promoted and ask how culture, consumerism or pressures relating to things like school exams makes that anxiety worse. But I don’t mind that Mess wasn’t the place for that anger.
I enjoyed instead seeing Boris – a clown, like we all are – neither railing against the world nor analysing Josephine’s psyche, but looking for pragmatic ways to say and do the right thing to help his friend to eat something that day.
Posted by David Ralfe, Company Director
Click here for more information about Mess by Caroline Horton, Traverse Theatre, 2-26 August 2012
Another great review brings a good start to the week!
**** Exeunt magazine - ’undeniably impressive’
Read the full review here
We’ve had some great reviews so far at the Fringe…
**** The Skinny who, rather hilariously, have accidentally called the show Machines For Dying!
Machines For Living artwork for Edinburgh Festival Fringe
by Christina Hardinge
A huge thank you to everyone who made a donation to the company via our WeFund appeal.
Your support means a huge amount to us!
Machines For Living was sponsored by:
Richenda Walsh, Tim Day, Sacha Plaige, Emily Ayoub, Jess Hyslop, Elena Wealty, Sue Mann, Jill & Nigel Calvert, Tim Middleton and Bent Haugland.
Le Corbusier’s design for Paris.
From The City of Tomorrow by Le Corbusier.
Like architecture? Like techno?
Interesting review in Fact Magazine of a new release which references Brutalism in its title, artwork and musical concept.
So yes, another album cover, another grainy black and white photo of Brutalist architecture. But this time it’s a bit more thought through.
Compare with Damon Albarn’s fondness for the very same Trellick Tower in his videos, as I discussed in this blog post here.
We’ve had lots of support from Building Design magazine and they surpassed themselves at the end of our run at Blue Elephant Theatre by persuading renowned architects Kate Macintosh and George Finch to write reviews of Machines For Living!
Kate and George both worked for the Greater London Council in the 1960s, when our play is set, designing huge housing projects such as Lambeth Towers and Dawson’s Heights in Dulwich. We were lucky enough to spend a day with them whilst researching our show and it was a real pleasure to have them in the audience!
You can read their thoughts on the show in an article called ‘A Morality Play For Our Times’ (!) here.
With thanks to Elizabeth Hopkirk at Building Design
In just two weeks’ time, Let Slip will be on their way to the Edinburgh Fringe!
We go back into rehearsals tomorrow, so I’ve spent the last few days reviewing footage we took of the show when we presented it at Blue Elephant Theatre and trying to identify moments we might change or adapt. It’s a strange mental process, trying to distance oneself from something you created in order to see it, warts and all, for what it is!
We still have some fundraising to do before we can get to Edinburgh. If you can help in anyway with a donation, small or large, please click here to donate via our WeFund page or watch the video below if you’d like to find out more about where your money would go.
If you saw the show in London and liked it, spread the word! If not, we hope to play for you in Edinburgh.
See you there!
Posted by David Ralfe, Company Director
I highly recommend Alex Chisholm’s excellent article on new writing in Exeunt. She makes interesting and vital points about the danger of theatres’ attempts to help writers develop their scripts, as originality is squeezed out by homogenous received wisdom about what a good play should be.
She also, very pertinently for me, laments what she sees as a false opposition between ‘new writing’ and ‘new work’. However, I don’t see the two as opposites. I think ‘new work’ is a revision of the term ‘new writing’ which doesn’t exclude plays which have a writer or script at their centre but which can include theatre which doesn’t or theatre which is impossible to read because text is combined with movement/dance/music/puppetry/multimedia (you name it) in a way which makes the idea of a written ‘script’ impossible.
I make new work for theatre and so have more in common with playwrights writing new plays than most other people in my industry. But I feel dismayed when I see that a theatre has a New Writing Department because my creative process has little to do with writing anything down. I don’t have a script I can send them, I can’t attend a writers workshop to develop my ideas and, as a result, it can feel like I am being shut out.
Perhaps this is just semantics. But, as it happens, only yesterday I read the introduction to the Traverse Theatre’s Edinburgh Fringe season brochure, written by newly appointed Artistic Director Orla O’Loughlin. She writes,
“We are proud to place the writer at the heart of this fantastic Festival programme… Performance is stripped back this year as the words take centre stage”
In fact, it’s an exciting programme, broader than this might suggest. But one can’t help but feel that O’Loughlin is planting her flag in the ground and sending a clear message about what kind of work she wants to programme and what she does not.
There are also examples of funding opportunities which hype themselves as ‘supporting the best emerging theatrical talent’ but which require scripts to be sent in as part of the application. I feel this is like claiming to support the best young painters but actually only supporting painters who paint with the colour red.
In her article, Alex Chisholm rightly points out that the best theatres already blur the lines between new work and new writing. I encourage all venues to keep blurring them and to consider whether they need to stop talking about new writing and start talking about new work to make this happen.
Posted by David Ralfe
Alex replied on Twitter to say:
@let_slip glad you enjoyed it. We had good discussion here in #writingtheseason about whether changing language would make a difference…. more theatres seem willing to take broader view of what is new writing & new work. & intersection is where exciting much work is