SWDDT in shortlist for Ideas Tap Green Fund!

I have just recieved news that Stories We Don’t Dare Tell is on the shortlist (17 from 70) for funding from the Ideas Tap Green Fund. More application work to now be done but things are looking good! If you are interested in being involved in the project or helping us with venues etc please contact me: jon_nash@live.co.uk

Stories we don’t dare tell project

“For us to maintain our way of living, we must tell lies to each other and especially to ourselves. The lies are necessary because, without them, many deplorable acts would become impossibilities.”
— Derrick Jensen (The Culture of Make Believe)

“Once there was a wise old woman who lived in a small village. The children of the village were puzzled by her — her wisdom, her gentleness, her strength. One day several children decided to fool the old woman They believed that no one could be as wise as everyone said she was, and were determined to prove it.
So the children found a baby bird and one of the Ii boys cupped it in his hands and said to his playmates “We’ll ask her whether the bird I have in my hand is dead or alive. If she says it is dead, I will open hands and let it fly away. If she says it’s alive, crush it in my hands and she’ll see that it is dead.
And the children went to the old woman and presented her with this puzzle. “Old woman,” the little boy as “this bird in my hands — is it dead or alive?” The woman became very still, studied the boy’s hands, then looked carefully into his eyes. “It’s in your hands.” she said”.
-Traditional story

Deeper than oil, steel or bullets, a civilisation is built on stories: on the myths that shape it and the tales told of its origins and destiny. We have herded ourselves to the edge of a precipice with the stories we have told ourselves about who we are: the stories of ‘progress’, of the conquest of ‘nature’, of the centrality and supremacy of the human species. It is time for new stories.
-The Dark Mountain Project 2009

“In Twenty years we have actually got to change our lifestyles. I don’t know if human beings have the capacity for the kind of change that is necessary. Yet, maybe, there is the chance. It is down to the messenger, the narrative, the story to make the change possible.”
-David Buckland (Artistic Director of ‘Cape Farewell’

“There has been a lack of , and this lack reduces the ability of people to envision possible futures and consequently make better decisions today.  This appears to be changing.”
-Gary Peterson (Resilience Science Blog)

‘STORIES WE DON’T DARE TELL’ will gather playwrights to develop short plays inspired by climate change, peak oil and our uncertain future. There are currently few plays that deal with these dangers. It starts from the idea that our situation and harmful relationship with the environment is facilitated by the stories we tell each other. What stories we might tell to change our world for the better? What honest stories that avoid simple answers? The result will be plays ready for performance. The project will be run sustainably and we will show the plays in theatres and non theatre spaces.

Emerging playwrights from the United Kingdom who have an interest in the subject matter.

Starting in the autumn of 2010 with an aim towards full scale production in the Spring of 2011

The project will use venues and settings that are a combination of arts and theatre spaces and environmental sites and projects in England.



Project is launched with an open call for writers to apply to take part. They are asked to provide examples of their writing and a letter describing their interest in the project. These applications will be reviewed by the team and ten writers selected to be invited to the workshop stages.

REVIEW: ‘The Chairs’ (Ustinov Studio, Bath)

Eugene Ionesco was one of the most important dramatists of the twentieth century leaving behind a legacy of famous absurdist plays including ‘The Bald Soprano’, ‘Rinoceros’ and ‘The Chairs’. In a lighthouse an elderly couple half remember and half forget the past and a lifetime of missed oportunities. Tonight, however, is different. The Old Man has a message to give to the world, his lifetime’s achievement to be presented by a special orator to an invited audience. As the guests arrive and the stage fills with chairs we are taken into a world of magical absurdism and pure theatrical joy.

In many ways ‘The Chairs’ can present a challenge to actors and directors. The absurdist style of the twentieth century can at first seem unfamiliar and this play asks much of it’s two performers who are on stage constantly and face perhaps the greatest mime challenge in theatre history as the ‘guests’ arrive, interact and fill the stage. Ciaran McIntyre and Janet Amsden certainly rise to the challenge in Maria Amberg’s wonderful and vibrant production.  Their characterisation is note perfect and the introduction of the guests so perfect that by the end of the play we can see the stage filled with characters. The set is simple yet effective with the combination of suspended chairs and almost pleasure pier lighting providing a brightness and energy that coupled with the actors performances leaves your head spinning. Martin Crimp’s crisp translation is faithful and fresh from start to end. To be surrounded by an audience overcome with giggles and gasps of amazement and joy is a rare treat and one which makes this a production to treasure. This is magical theatricality at it’s very best.

REVIEW: Medusa the Celt (True West)

A collaboration between three southwest theatre companies (True West, cube and Bedlam), Medusa the Celt is a new play by Nick Whitby, who also directs. The show has been touring outdoor venues around the south west with an interesting take on the story of Medusa.

The pages of historical background in the program indicate the depth and breadth of research that went into the writing of this play but also indicate the challenge it faces, filled as it is with many ideas. The play tells the tale of a celtic woman kidnapped and taken into the heart of Roman Britain and the journey her sister undertakes to rescue her. Along the way warriors, mystics, actors and spirits add their voices to the central message of the play, a romanticised comparison of the world views of the celts and the romans. The characters discussthe sense of oneness with nature, question the concept of ownership and comdemn opression, all noble aims but the power of this message is lost in a rather confused plot that even has the actors looking nervous and muddled at points.

There are some wonderful lines in the play and some great poetry and the central concept (medusa as a coded story about roman barbarity) is impressive but the play relys to0 heavily on telling us what is right and wrong about the celtic and roman ways rather than showing us. The tone changes frequently the writer seemingly unable to decide if he wants to write Blackadder or Howard Barker and the play is robbed of any satisfying conclusion to the tale as the characters become aware of their 21st century audience. There are powerful images and some good performances (the roman general/acting troupe leader is impressive as is the simpleton sister who follows her sister) but the direction misses many oportunities by relying on the storytelling and narration of characters rather than the dramatic moments on stage (a harp carried by musicians is not played, beautiful greek masks are held up and then dropped, stage boundires and conventions are picked up and dropped as the play progresses and the attempts at audience participation seem clumsy and out of place).  The outdoor settings, costume and music start to build an atmosphere that with development this play and production could carry into something magical but sadly at the moment this piece feels rather messy. A disappointment.

REVIEW: ‘The Red Shoes’ Kneehigh Theatre at the Asylum

Kneehigh theatre return to their native Cornwall with their brand new venue ‘The Asylum’ (a

rather spectacular tent which they will take all over the country following this stay in the

South West). The three shows on offer in the new venue are revivals of classic Kneehigh shows.

‘The Red Shoes’ is unmissable theatre.

A simple wooden stage with a metal staircase and overhead balcony has a glimpse from beyond the white tent surroundings of a sunlit field. Around this stage a collection of grey haggard looking actors wash their feet in old fashioned wash tubs looking out at the audience with a mixture of defiance and playfulness. So beings Kneehigh’s production of  ‘The Red Shoes’ written by Anna Murphy and directed by Emma Rice. This show is an anarchic, feminist and joyful retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale of a girl and the deadly consequences of her obsession with a pair of magical red dancing shoes. The finely crafted poetry of Anna Murphy’s script is well juxtoposed with the frantic theatricality of Kneehigh as the actors change characters, climb up spiral staircases, fight over micrpohones, paint their feet,  turn suitcases into Bentlys and, of course, dance (and then some!).

Patrycja Kujawska particularly impresses as ‘the girl’, silently but powerfully expressing the protagonists misery, joy and desperation but this is truly a great emsemble piece (the drag  queen narrator is a wonderful guide to the tale) that playfully winks at the audience one moment and gets lost in it’s own frantic theatricality the next. This show and ‘The Asylum’ are definately must seestory telling theatre this year.