The National Theatre's International Contemporary Stage Programme is a major launch. ICON takes place at the National Theatre
every other year having replaced the Contemporary Stage Festival, and strives to look to the future focusing on both exciting
new pieces and new takes on classics, always with the National Theatre as co-producer.
The National Theatre’s International Contemporary Stage Programme, ICON, presents some of the world’s most innovative and outstanding contemporary stage art and future classics, showcasing innovation on stage, influential companies and producers and surprising visual experiences. All set within a tradition of theatre, image and music, ICON is a feast for art lovers of all kinds.
Every ten years a new name enters the canon. In the 70s Elizabeth LeCompte and The Wooster Group entered the scene, and they visit the National Theatre autumn 2011 to show why they are still so influential when they interpret Tennesse Williams’Vieux Carrè.Romeo Castellucci made his name in the 90s and only three weeks after its first premiere in Renne, he honoured Oslo with his guest performance,The Minister’s Black Veil,which was performed to raving reviews. Gisèle Vienne is one of the most influential names of the noughties.This is How You Will Disappearis not only beautiful and packed full of action, it is also an amazing concert in its own right.
ICON 2011 is curated in association with Sven Åge Birkeland, director at BIT Teatergarasjon, which was recently listed by The Guardian as one of the most innovative stages in the world, alongside the Hebbel Theatre in Berlin, PS122 in New York and Frascati in Amsterdam.
The Wooster Group’s version of Tennessee Williams’ Vieux Carrè
Like Williams’ first big success,The Glass Menagerie, Vieux Carrè (1977) is a “memory play”, set in the boarding house in New Orleans where Williams himself stayed as a young man during the Depression. The young writer, as narrator, remembers his artistic and sexual awakening there. Inhabitants of the house swirl up out of the writer’s mind as archetypal Williams characters, longing for release and haunted by thwarted dreams. In The Wooster Group’s version ofVieux Carrè,the Group experiments with new modes of expression for Williams’ lyric voice.
The Wooster Group is a company of experimental theater artists founded in 1976 under the direction of Elizabeth LeCompte. In the Group’s innovative productions, texts and technology are interwoven to tell stories in new ways. The Group has sustained a full-time, ongoing ensemble since the beginning. The company is constantly evolving, and with its many artistic associates has created and performed nineteen pieces for theatre, eight film/video pieces and five dance pieces. The company members are at the centre of the work. Elizabeth LeCompte has directed all of the pieces and members who have “moved on” periodically return to remount repertory pieces and make new work. The Group has toured in the U.S. and to Europe, Russia, Canada, South America, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia.
Vieux Carrè was played on the 11th and 12th November.
The Minister’s Black Veil
Inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story
Romeo Castellucci brought The Minister’s Black Veilto the National Theatre as part of ICON only three weeks after it was performed for the very first time. The Minister’s Black Veilis based upon a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne and is about a priest who suddenly and without an explanation decides to wear a black veil. His congregation is shocked, but he keeps the veil on until he dies.
Castellucci’s performance is not a literal transfer from short story to stage. –The theatre I seek and practice is never a translation of or comment of something that already exists, says Castellucci. – I seek a total presence of the body, near and touchable, I seek lines of excitement from a cold, visual objectivity. This is a performance about fear and about a darkness that never ends. The use of visual expressions, always an important part of Castellucci’s work, leave a lasting impression on the spectator as he plays on the energy and tension in the audience.
Romeo Castellucci established the teatre company Societas Raffaello Sanzio with his sister Claudia Castellucci and Chiara Guidi in 1981. They have become known for the radical changes they bring to theatre. Their performances have been invited to theatres and international festivals worldwide, andLe Mondenamed Castellucci’sDivina Commediathe performance of the decade in 2010.
Castelluci’s work is based on a holistic theatre and takes advantage of all senses. His performances follow dramatic lines that aren’t dictated by literature and that are complex and visually rich. His aim is to develop a language of theatre that can be understood across language barriers, like the language of music, painting and architecture.
The Minister’s Black Veil was performed on the 14th and 15th April.
This is How You Will Disappear
This is How You Will Disappear delves into your deepest and most secret dreams, presenting them through an audiovisual language with references to romantic art. This performance doesn’t just appeal to your sense or sensibility, but speaks to your entire esthetic self. The stage transformed into a very realistic wood, we meet three very different characters representing contradicting ideals in society: the coach representing authority and order, a young female athlete representing beauty and perfection, and a young rock star who represents beauty connected to self destruction and ruin.
Gisèle Vienne is a French choreographer, director, performer and visual artist. She studied puppet making at Ecole Supèrieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette, where she met dancer and choreographer Etienne Bideau-Rey. Together, they established the dance company De l’Autre Côté du Miroir in 1999. Since 2003, Vienne has developed her solo career as director and choreographer, and among other things worked with the author Dennis Cooper on several performances. This is How You Will Disappear had its worldwide premiere summer 2010 at the Avignon Festival.
Vienne is known for using confusing objects on stage and toying with fantasy and reality in mystical pieces. The audience feels the tension through the use of contrasts and contradictions on stage.
This is How You Will Disappear was played on the 24th February.