Posted: August 20th, 2011 | Author: Tim Ralphs | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Audience Comments, Festival, Gigging, Queen of Claywood Flats | No Comments »
I’ve just had a particularly moving e-mail from someone who saw my Queen of Claywood Flats show around the fire at Larmer Tree Festival. It was a wonderful environment to tell in and I’m pleased they found the story to be fitting for the space.
“I really wanted to let you know how much me and my entire party enjoyed your fireside storytelling at the Larmer tree. It was a brilliant and surprising piece of truly gifted and skilful entertainment. I’ve never had the privilege to have seen your storytelling before nor very much of the art-form at all, to be honest, but we were all totally blown away. Not one stumble, not one hesitation, always on the move around the fire so that everyone was able to hear and a brilliant physicality that really brought the geography and the characters to life. And that’s before one even contemplates the intricate Russian doll architecture of your story within a story within a story, a magnificent timeless mythic epic tale. It was totally absorbing. You made that Saturday night a really special occasion and I am sure that the rest of your fireside listeners felt the same. It was abundantly clear that they were all clearly as captivated as we were.”
Posted: August 4th, 2011 | Author: Tim Ralphs | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Craft, Festival, Narrative in other mediums, Review | No Comments »
I was at Larmer Tree Festival telling stories. It was magical, but I’m not here to tell you about that.
I’m here to tell you about Stewart Wright’s “The Nothing Show”, a half-hour performance piece that was so good I saw it twice.
It’s hard to describe the piece without spoilers. It’s a mime, the solo performer simply enacts getting up in the morning and getting ready to go out. Wright doesn’t speak, though he does make sound effects. That’s all. The physicality, the facial expressions, the creation and exploration of an imaginary geography, the skills Wright demonstrates are amazing. I was enthralled at how he was able to portray so much and get his audience so emotionally invested in a character whilst apprently doing so little. But to understand the appeal of The Nothing Show, you have to step back from the moment by moment joy of Wright’s corporeal mime and see the piece as a whole.
For the last hundred years the public whiteface of mime has been one of elaborate, formal gesture. It’s been one of talented street performance. It’s been impressive and technical but it hasn’t always been moving. It wasn’t always like that. The Mummers plays, for example, were about telling a story through an interesting medium, and Wright is re-exploring exactly that effect in his performance. The Nothing Show portrays a character who is a charming, sympathetic and believable individual. It shares the narrative of the compounded difficulties of getting ready to go out in the morning, underpinned with the mime’s craving for self-expression and freedom from the tyranny of the mundane. It features all the hallmarks of great storytelling composition: Reincorporation, escalation, premise and so on.
The result is a triumph. The Nothing Show connects to its audience in a way that formal mime can not, and it does it by embracing narrative.
Go and see it.