Thursday, 27 October 2011

Berkoff KVETCHING in North London

How do you find an exciting theatre venue in London? Go to a pub of course! The Kings Head Pub in Angel to be exact, which plays host to London’s Little Opera House theatre located at the back of this quaint local.

‘Kvetch’, a play written by Stephen Berkoff is the latest performance to take over this inquisitive venue. Directed by Julio Maria Martino this exuberant animated performance is suitably adapted to the intimate space at the Kings Head Theatre.
For any fan of Berkoffs work this is an absolute must, with the cast of five producing highly physical forms and movements displaying the suburban American Jewish characters in Kvetch. For any non Berkoff fan (‘Berkoff who?’) then this play is still a must see event; its exceedingly witty writing and visual performance displays with minimal set cleverly pushes you on a roller-coaster ride of anxiety and laughs.
The play is a portrayal of a Jewish family in America whose dinner party event plays host to the individual characters revealing their anxieties, inner voices and their own ‘ketches’ [According to the dictionary, Kvetch is a piece of American slang, derived from Yiddish, meaning a chronic, whining complainer].

“Kvetch is a study of the effects of anxiety on the nagging kvetch that keeps you awake,” Berkoff.

Hilariously the play stops and starts mid scene, allowing time for the characters to fret, fear and crumble as their inner thoughts (and what their characters are really thinking) wittily start to become the main focus of the play. The play continues to provoke the audience to laugh aloud at the realisation of the self-recognition of these thoughts and how common these shared feelings are with our lives.
Josh Cole plays Frank; a textile salesman with a stay at home wife Donna (played by Dagmar Döring). At work, Frank is known as the Kvetch for his high anxiety and fretfulness, in fact that the act of telling a simple joke even makes him consider the moralities of his own worth and the suicidal fear of missing the punch line of the joke!

Hal, played by the superb Solo artist Dickie Beau. Recently Hal’s wife has left him and his lonely nights are his own fears and his Kvetch, he struggles to handle social interactions and situations, especially when ask; “So what do you do with your evenings alone Hal?”. He is the shy and timid work colleague of Frank and is invited to the dinner party; where his fears are lively and hilariously played out. Beau’s comic timing and physical attributes are first class as his effortlessly floats from one emotion into the next. His characterisation of the worryingly good friend of Frank allows the audience to join him on his emotions of despair, light-heartedness and joy of his own resolve. A truly magnificent performance from Beau.
Referred to as ‘a cartoon vision of our waking nightmares’, Berkoff’s writing is packed full of high adrenalin physicality exploring the funny deeper fears about social interactions, which allows the spectator to jokily reminisce about their own existence and social inept.
With shocking twist endings we see the characters’ lives change, maybe for the better- maybe for the worse in the second act, where their simple choices in life result in their future happiness- if that be attainable for them?

“Fear of failure or success, fear of illness, fear of sex, fear of being gay, fear of blacks or whites, fear of not understanding the joke, fear of Armageddon, fear of fear: Kvetch is an unsparingly black comic examination of a profound cultural malady: FEAR” Kings Theatre.
This performance at the Kings Head is not to be avoided, filled with clever quips and astounding performances within this intriguing space. A must see!

KVETCH on till 4TH November 2011, at the Kings Head Theatre, Angel.

BOX OFFICE - 0207 478 0160

Images: and Kings Theatre website.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


What is Live Art?

I got into a recent conversation (which I think I lost on terminology- but not in belief) about what we can class Live Art as being.

If I say I am studying Live Art, going to see Live Art….what do you immediately think of?
Theatre? Dance? Live music? Installation? Some crazy woman half naked covered in body paint?

To me live art reflects the idea that it is a piece of work that will never be seen again, it is for one moment only, no matter how many times you view it, it will inevitably be changed during the course of time, and in effect this Live Art will die.

The definition says:
Live Art is a term used to describe acts of performance undertaken by an artist or a group of artists, as a work of art. It is an innovative and exploratory approach to contemporary performance practices. Live Art can also be referred to as time-based art, as the exploration of temporality tends to be a key theme of this sort of work.

Live Art is a varied and diverse practice. By its very nature live art "defies precise of easy definition beyond the simple definition that it is live art by artists". Below are a series of definitions of the term Live Art:

Tate Collection:

"Live Art mainly refers to Performance art and Action art and their immediate precursor Happenings, together with the developments of Performance since the 1960s”.

Live Art Archive:

"Live Art can be defined as "art work that broadly embraces ephemeral, time-based, visual and performing arts events that include a human presence and broaden, challenge or question traditional views of the arts".

The Live Art Development Agency:

"Live Art should not be understood as a description of an art form but as a strategy to ‘include' a diversity of practices and artists that might otherwise find themselves ‘excluded' from all kinds of policy and provision and all kinds of curatorial contexts and critical debates".

Live art = something that is live.

So if an artist were to use wood/ paper/ food in their work/installation- then that work would be classed as live work, then could architecture be live art? Even though there isn’t an immediate kinetic reaction/ movement; over time these materials will deteriorate and change- not instantly, but it will happen. So each time a visitor/ spectator views the work it will change and the visual result of the change will be apparent.

So can we class a photograph as live work?

Again we can say that over time the quality of the image will itself decompose, change and disintegrate, in some cases scarring the image itself so that it becomes invisible to the viewer. As expressed above “Live Art embraces…time-based, visual and performing arts events that included a human presence…” Then surely a photograph is the result of a moment of time captured/ recorded to be remembered of a live event- a live moment that happened (whether that be of a sitter- alive, a landscape/ nature- alive, an object- partially alive depending on the object material).

The human presence is the reality that the photographer… someonehad to be there in order for the picture to be taken. It wasn’t draw and replicated from a memory or another image in a book, or a description. A person, a live person had to be present for this image to be created.
Therefore is this live work; A recording of a live time which over a period will be erased and lost.

What is live work???

Photograph via The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art.