Dancing at dusk
When Pina Bausch’s The Rite of Spring was performed at Sadler’s Wells in June, one of the theatre’s resident bats unexpectedly dove into the performance, leaving some to wonder if it was part of the show. After all, Bausch’s masterpiece, performed on a bed of peat, is not lacking in heady ambience. In this film about the production, the stage is sand as we watch the company of dancers from African countries perform Bausch’s lively choreography on the beach in Senegal in 2020, just before their tour was canceled due to Covid. Available until July 11.
The biennial London International Theater Festival is in full swing in the capital, but there is also a bountiful online program available until July 10. Zaagidiwin by Denise Bolduc contemplates our relationship to nature through the journey of a half-human, half-bird character. The Teaching of the Hands by Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas, part of Serpentine’s Back to Earth project on the climate crisis, looks at colonization, migration and ecological disaster. The Making of Pinocchio by Rosana Cade and Ivor MacAskill is a reflection on MacAskill’s gender transition. The Guardian’s Mark Fisher gave it four stars, hailing “a funny, intelligent and thoughtful two-handed piece on identity, definition and acceptance”.
“It’s been in my head for years as sketches and lines,” Lucy Kirkwood said of her piece Maryland. But after the murder of Sabina Nessa last fall, Kirkwood was forced to write what she described as a “howl” play in just two days. “I felt like that had arrive now. The visceral 30-minute drama, about the normalization of violence against women, was staged at London’s Royal Court in 2021 and has now been adapted for TV with a cast including Zawe Ashton and Hayley Squires . On BBC2 on July 20 then available on BBC iPlayer.
“I want you to imagine yourself looking at a map,” says Matt Hartley in his monologue Idyll, which toured the UK as a Pentabus production in the summer of 2021. Not just looking at it: holding the map in your hands, hear the rustle of its unfolding – a tactile counterpoint to our age of Google Earth. Hartley slowly invites us into two squares of this map, a pretty village where danger lurks on a hot summer morning. Presented against a sky blue scene in a park, this is a compelling rural portrait presented with vigour. Online until July 9.
The Duchess of Malfi
This summer, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is taken over by the mechanics of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a fun family show. But the ornate replica of the Jacobean candlelit theater traditionally lends extra intimacy to dark conspiratorial dramas and it got off to a flying start in 2014 with its opening production, John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi, starring Gemma Arterton and David Dawson. It’s currently available on BBC iPlayer and captures the ambience of the venue perfectly – plus, you can swap out those austere seats for the comfort of your own sofa.
Stand up for Ukraine
Finborough’s vital Voices from Ukraine season continues with this short digital piece, written and performed by Bréon Rydell, in response to the Russian invasion. Anna Heller, a Ukrainian artist temporarily residing in Berlin, created an accompanying soundscape to “reflect her message and guide people through all of history, to the truth.” The film is available for free from July 4 on Finborough’s YouTube channel, with donations welcome for the Voices of Children Foundation, a charity that supports war-affected children in Ukraine.
Walk in Ulysses!
“The stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the top of the stairs, carrying a bowl of foam on which a mirror and a razor were crossed.” So begins James Joyce’s Ulysses. On its centenary, review what happened next on Bloomsday as seen through the eyes of singer-songwriter Robert Gogan who won Best Actor at the 2019 Galway Fringe Festival for his irreverent 75-minute solo show that takes place with Joyce. assertion that “there is not a single serious line” in his groundbreaking novel. Streamed live from Derry Playhouse on July 1, then available again for a week.
Prepare for a summer of storms as Shakespeare’s latest play is swept onto stage at the Ustinov in Bath (beginning Art Direction by Deborah Warner), Shakespeare’s Globe (by Sean Holmes) and the parks and gardens of London Courtesy of Shakespeare in the Squares. For one to watch at home, how about Christopher Plummer as Quicksilver Prospero? The late star played the role in a 2010 production directed by Des McAnuff for Ontario’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival. It’s available from BroadwayHD along with RSC’s 2016 high-tech staging with Simon Russell Beale and an Ariel created using motion-capture technology.
Sibiu International Theater Festival
Beauty is the theme of this year’s edition of the Romanian arts festival, which has an online offer – with translations – until July 3. Highlights include Quartet, Heiner Müller’s version of Dangerous Liaisons, staged by Romania’s Radu Stanca National Theatre; Japanese choreographer Un Yamada’s reflection on the Covid pandemic, Cosmos; Kreatur, breathtaking dance by Sasha Waltz; and Scottish Dance Theatre’s surreal baroque odyssey, The Life and Times, created by Joan Clevillé and filmed in one continuous shot at the Dundee Rep. Full programming.
Site-specific theater company Dante or Die have brought the same playful pursuit to their digital productions as they have to their live performances which have sprung up in unusual locations across the UK since 2006. Odds On, a film 30-minute interactive written and directed by Daphna Attias and Terry O’Donovan, uses animation and a cast of actors to tell the story of a retiree overwhelmed by the world of online gambling. This is a free “digital tour” where venues host different dates of availability, starting at Salford’s Lowry, July 5-19, and Poole’s Lighthouse, July 20-27.