lundi 16 novembre 2009

Hanna and Ike at Shunt

Last week we had the honour of performing Hanna and Ike at the LAST EVER Shunt lounge at London Bridge. Hanna and Ike is the play we wrote for the Napoli Teatro Festival last summer. Although it was originally designed for a large open space, it worked out even better at Shunt than we'd hoped; although a bit of the scale of the piece was lost, I think confining the image more meant the comedy of the reveals came across clearer.

There's a video coming of the Nasreen Mohamedi performance. One of these films was filmed at a gallery in the afternoon, the other was filmed at a nightclub at midnight. See if you can guess which is which...

mardi 10 novembre 2009

Nasreen Mohamedi

Dancing Brick have been invited to do an installation performance at the Milton Keynes Gallery this weekend, in response to the works by artist Nasreen Mohamedi in the exhibition

Nasreen Mohamedi: Notes
"Reflections on Indian Modernism"

Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi produced a highly personalised language through drawings, photographs and diaries from the 1950s to the 1980s. The works Dancing Brick will focus on in the perfromance are what some consider her classic works, from the 1970s and 1980s: small scale geometric drawings, devised around the grid. These works, drawings so intricate and technical they remind us of an architect's blueprints correspond to the utopian planning of Milton Keyens and are strong emblems of modernist art and design. The drawings are highly technical but delicate, evocative at once of complex musical scores and intricate stitchwork and soft textile weaving.

For our performance we have also drawn our inspiration from Michelangelo Antonioni's 1962 film L'Eclisse, which tells the story of a man and a woman who attempt to fall in love in the estranged utopian landscape of the artificial urban space of the Eur, on the outskirts of Rome in the 1960s. We feel that the visual themes and the strong architecural elements used in the film are very present in Mohamedi's wrok, where the human presence is felt like a shadow, a whisper fading into the depths of the blueprint-like drawings.

mardi 15 septembre 2009

Next week

Come and see us back at CPT by popular demand. 21:13 is on tuesday-sunday at 8:00pm. Last time we sold out the CPT so maybe book early to avoid disappointment. Full (UK) tour dates are:

22nd-27th September: Camden People's Theatre, London
30th September-11th October: Tobacco Factory, Bristol
14th-16th October: South Hill Park, Canterbury
19th-21st October: Artsreach Dorset
22nd-24th October: Madcap Performing Arts Centre, Milton Keynes

Getting ready to go on tour...

We're re-re-rehearsing 21:13 in preparation for packing it all up and going on our first tour...

mercredi 2 septembre 2009


Great news from the fringe is that 6.0: How Heap and Pebble took on the World and Won was

Nominated and Shortlisted for the Total Theatre Award for an Emerging Company


Won the Arches Brick Award.

As part of the latter the prize is a thousand pounds and a run at the prestigious Arches Theatre in Glasgow. Better than that, the trophy is an actual brick.

Valentina collected the prize (while Thomas and Panda were busy not winning Total Theatre) at the assembly rooms at a big ceremony, where Joyce Macmillan made the big Dancing-Brick-win-the-Brick joke. It brought the house down.

Both of those things have put a lovely gloss on a great festival for us. Can't wait to do the show again.

Guardian review

We had a review from Lyn Gardner today. It was really positive and encouraging - plus just good to be in a Big Paper - but can't help feeling frustrated at being a 'lovely little show'. When will we be an epic, generation-defining, spectacular?

5 Star Fringe Review Review

The world is warming up. Two ice dancers are forced to perform on a wooden floor: They are Heap and Pebble. Eccentric and endearing, they have a beautiful on stage chemistry that makes them totally watchable. This also easily allows them to perform some scenes in silence for minutes on end. They manage a light, quirky tone with an underlying dread at the reality of their situation.
The two actors and writers Thomas Eccleshare (Heap) and Valentina Ceschi (Pebble) are lovely. Handsome Heap does all the talking and the shy and beautiful Pebble the smiling. They present themselves to the audience in surreal bursts of enthusiasm and quiet grace; the timing of their delivery and the way they have structured the oddly connecting scenes: Silent, observational ones and scenes when they address the audience are held together by their lovable demeanour. The audience are drawn into the character's plight because the threat is ours as well - and we aren't passive observers - the fourth wall is broken several times and audience members invited on stage.
This is certainly a devised production and very much to its credit. It is an excellent example of unconventionally structured storytelling. It wouldn't work on paper, not only because there is so little dialogue but because it is about physical mood and style that couldn't be conveyed in a text. It doesn't rely on any theatrical conventions, in fact it throws them out and starts afresh. It even makes text based theatre look archaic and dull in comparison.
Its structure is based on the juxtaposition of a mega and a micro-theme: Global Warming and the desperate need of two people. it starts off with the audience laughing at two clownish characters, and if this had continued it would have stayed as rather odd, physical slapstick theatre, and we wouldn't have taken the message (of global warming) seriously. What raises it above other shows of its nature is its clarity in defining a threat so abstractedly.
Increasing throughout, the threatening sense of a melting world is conveyed through poignant mime scenes and wonderful sound effects. One, for example, is an image of plastic chairs sinking to the bottom of the sea performed with the actor's backs turned to us which alludes to their, and our, drowning and therefore our extinction because of rising sea levels. Radio addresses of them on the ice are merged with news of the melting ice. They desperately try to be positive about their plight but the reality is ever present.
This gets five stars because of its innovation in style, it strikes just the right note between humour and pathos. This is a highly original and offbeat way to warn us, through art, of the reality of global warming. It hails to the power of theatre as a message carrier, and deserves all the praise it gets.

Congratulations Matt

Congratulations to Matt Trueman, who won the Allen Wright Award for a young critic, with his review of 6.0. It's not often you inspire a review this well-written; we were really touched when we first read it, and are now trying to steal some reflected glory... Here it is:

With summers hotting up and polar ice-caps melting down, Dancing Brick ask us to spare a thought for the world’s figure skaters in this surprisingly poignant and cerebral clown show. It’s been five years since Heap Cruziack and Pebble Adverati last laced up their skates and danced competitively, but now, in spite of the extinction of ice-rinks, the world champions are intent on a glorious comeback. Thus, dressed in glacial-grey chiffon, they take to the wooden floor and skate with polished smiles and clumsy feet. It’s a stunningly simple idea that captures the clown’s essential conflict of optimism and futility.

Admittedly, Thomas Eccleshare and Valentina Ceschi fail to wring this premise for every last drop of comic potential, but in return they forge an unexpected tragedy out of the iceless-dancers. On the surface, Heap and Pebble are shrewdly observed caricatures of sporting professionals. Eccleshare, in particular, revels in the absurd inanities of media-speak and the faux-humility of their podium routine is spot on. However, by the time they come to actually perform their faltering free dance, Heap and Pebble seem utterly hopeless. They are broken and empty, entirely stripped of purpose like two masterful marionettes come unstrung.

In order to achieve this, Eccleshare and Ceschi sacrifice a rounded, satisfying structure in favour of something more stuttering. They sag as often as they hit hilarity – their icy recreation of the Apollo moon landings being a particular comic peak – but there are also moments of delicate beauty. All it takes to suggest Heap and Pebble’s former glories, for example, is two fingers gliding around the miniature ice-rink of a plastic garden chair.

Though 6.0... is not the most immediately gratifying theatrical experience, it has the intelligence, depth and imagery to linger with you through the Fringe. In fact, the more you think about Heap and Pebble’s plight, the more they’ll melt your heart.

lundi 24 août 2009

thoughts in ed

There is a sense in which Free work is unreal. Unreal in the sense that real estate is real. It is sellable, buyable, valuable. By pricing art as free, it makes it profoundly difficult to defend and, by inference, to judge. When nothing is finished, nothing valued, it is impossible to attack, which is why, in a very real sense, there is more risk in a Work, than there is in a Work-In-Progress.

lundi 10 août 2009

Review From Edinburgh Guide

6.0: How Heap and Pebble Took on the World and Won Review
By Garry Platt - Posted on 09 August 2009
Venue: Pleasance Dome
Company: Dancing Brick, developed at BAC
Running time: 60mins
Production: Thomas Eccleshare (Actor & Writer) Valentina Ceschi (Actor & Writer)
Performers: Thomas Eccleshare (Heap), Valentina Ceschi (Pebble)
Here’s the idea: global warming has led to the extinction of the Winter Olympics. But the two unbeaten World Ice Figure Skating champions Heap and Pebble decide this is not going to stop them bringing their art and their entertainment to the masses.
And so they prepare for the world’s first no ice ice dance. It’s an engaging idea to begin with but the execution is sublime.

The two actors, Thomas Eccleshare and Valentina Ceschi, have created something which I predict will win a lot of awards. It achieves something that so many comic inventions fail to reach, poignancy and pathos.
The audience (including myself) start by laughing at these two painfully dedicated ice skaters desperately trying to overcome these impossible obstacles but as the scenes play out and their undaunted efforts and focussed energy are revealed the audience begins to feel uneasy about mocking the genuine efforts of these two extraordinary characters. The audience’s laughter becomes nervous as disdain and derision mutates into admiration and respect.

The play, the acting, the whole performance is a remarkable invention, a collection of dualisms; a tower of whimsy but also a beacon of hope, a funny story and a desperate tale, a story of obsession and freedom.

I strongly urge anyone who has not seen this play to go and see it now, it will begin selling out and I predict it will become one of the big hits of this years Fringe. Run, run now to the booking office.

mardi 23 juin 2009

Hanna and Ike

We performed Hanna and Ike for the first time in Napoli and we were really pleased with how it turned out. We struggled at first with the difficulty of trying to get such an engagement of the imagination from an outdoor audience. The courtyard we were in was so spectacular that we found that a huge amount of space was needed for each action to resonate. And people just needed to look around for a bit.

We're not sure yet whether it's going to be possible to do the piece in England, but we're hoping that we might be able to in the not too distant future. Keep your eyes peeled for news...

Hanna and Ike in Napoli

We've just got back from Napoli. What an amazing experience, and what a fantastic festival. We didn't get a chance to see that much of the other stuff as our performances clashed with pretty much everything (Valentina managed to get underground to see Monicello directed by Andy Arnold), but it was great to be involved in such a large-scale festival. A step up.

As we sat in the PAN sipping our complimentary artists' prosecco we couldn't help looking forward to the edinburgh fringe... no more commission, no more publicity department, no more sun. Then again, we do get 10% discount beer at the Brooks Bar.

mercredi 25 mars 2009

Emma Rice, director of Kneehigh, in the Guardian'd G2 March 25th 2009, on art and sport, in view of the Cultural Olympiad:

To which i feel compelled to reply:

If Emma Rice can’t understand why people see any link between the arts and sport, it seems obvious to me that a) she has never played or competed in any sport, and b) that her engagement in her own art is clearly lacking the excitement she could feel each night her actors step on stage and perform in front of hundreds of people.

It is especially sad not to be able to see the similarities between sport and theatre; not to be able to see that the excitement of one can be found in the other; the drama, the passion, the event unfolding in front of an audience cheering and spurring you along. It is no coincidence that the word play applies so naturally to both disciplines.

Art, like sport is the response to a human impulse to pursue perfection, beauty and truth, and to constantly challenge oneself. Theatre is the art of the present moment, a space, an arena for the body to be physically engaged in performance.

Ms Rice’s view of sport being based on the notion of ‘body beautiful, body perfect’ is belittling if not offensive to sportspeople. One can only assume she is thinking of the protein-pumped ‘body-building’ culture, although – last time I checked – this was not even a sport. To think that a real sportsman trains 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, endures unimaginable pains and strains to body and soul, all for vanity, shows a complete lack of respect. If theatre actors had even a fraction of the physical discipline and training of a sportsperson, then theatre would feel much more alive, visceral, engaging and it might even begin to attract more than just your usual middle class audience.

Moreover, if Ms Rice’s work is based so profoundly on the ‘poetry of failure’, then it can only benefit by her watching Federer loose to Nadal, for example, at Wimbledon, last year. To understand sport as a series of victories is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of sport. A perfect score doesn’t exist; records are, after all, there to be broken. Sportspeople should be held up as role-models not because they win, but because they fail; and then (to quote Beckett) they try again, only to fail better.

I am the co-director of a theatre company currently in the midst of developing a play with sport as its central theme (being developed in fact, at the same theatre Rice’s company are being hosted from next month) and have found it a rich and stimulating theme, full of challenges and promise for the actor.

The Cultural Olympiad at this present moment, may appear poor in substance, but if it can incite artists to learn something from sport, to be inspired and enriched by the Olympic values, the challenges, the physical discipline, the immediacy of the action, the stories, the victories, and the failures, then it may not be a lost cause after all.

vendredi 20 mars 2009

6.0 to the Fringe

We're delighted to be able to confirm that 6.0: How Heap and Pebble Took on the World and Won will be going to the Edinburgh Fringe, we've got a great slot at the Pleasance King Dome. A venue of this size is a real step up for us and is a great challenge. We'll publish the exact details here soon but it looks like we'll be performing around about 7pm. Have a peek at the space here:

Scratch Performance

Thanks to everyone who came last week to see us at the BAC.

It was fascinating to perform the show in front of an audience and we certainly learnt a lot. We were really encouraged by the response to the show - I think there's definitely something really interesting there and we're on the way to teasing it out.

Over the next few months, as we try to complete the show, we want to tighten up the transition between comedy and poignancy and really nail down the context. 

lundi 2 février 2009

Last weekend we performed extracts from our new work in progress 6.0 : How Heap and Pebble Took on the World and Won. We would like to thank the BAC for inviting us to work there for the three weeks leading up to their open weekend. It was a very productive period and we achieved a great deal. The space in particular was very special. We worked intensely on the choreography and the movement. Thanks for everyone who came to see it and for the interesting feedback you gave. We'll be back in March so watch this space !

vendredi 16 janvier 2009

We have a title...



lundi 12 janvier 2009

First day at the BAC

We started our work on Ice Skates at the BAC today. 

We are working in two rooms, the Members' Bar and an adjoining room which are turning into an office so we can write stuff down and have cups of tea and do proper business. 

Today was the first day of getting back into a show that we started starting three months ago and are now starting starting for real, having had the time in between to get really excited and stew over ideas.

If you want to come and see how the play is progressing, please come and see us on the open weekend (30th, 31st January), where we will be doing something. Though what that something is we don't know yet.