Reviewer: Yana Meerzon

Yana Meerzon

8: Production addresses pressing issues and fears of today

Reviewed by Yana Meerzon

Guest Critic: Yana Meerzon

Photo: David Ospina

On November 8, 2016, America elected its 45th President, Donald Trump, whose political forays, populist statements and neo-nationalist decrees, as well as Twitter type of communication, evoke the Russian poet –futurist Vladimir Mayakovsky’s manifesto “A Slap in the Face of Public Taste” (1917). By slapping  public taste, however, Mayakovsky aimed to change the role of arts in society, while Trump aims to change society itself. Trump’s aggressive and dangerous practices also bring into question  the role performing arts can play in resisting this type of political discourse and law-making.

Mani Soleymanlou, a Québécois artist of Iranian origin, and his company Orange Noyée, ask a similar question. With their new production 8 they inquire: what can theatre artists and intellectuals, socially and politically engaged individuals, do to resist the phantasmagoria of the Trump-lead era of history? What devices of political performance can make true social impact, in a  time when peoples’ political opinions and politics itself are formed over social media, through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? (more…)

“…our own reality, like Kemeid’s text, remains ambiguous and undecided.” Aeneid at Stratford.

Reviewed by Yana Meerzon

First published in alt.theatre, September 13,  2016. http://alttheatre.ca/2016/09/13/yana-meerzon-reviews-the-aeneid-at-stratford-until-oct-4/

In today’s political, economic and social climate, with mass migration turning into a new norm, it is impossible not to think of Olivier Kemeid’s dramaturgy as farsighted and foretelling. The Quebecois playwright published L’Eneide, his dramatic adaptation of Virgil’s poem, in 2008 before the current migration crisis. Yet with its tenacious questioning of the potential impact of the presence of new immigrants on the rapidly changing western world, Kemeid’s adaption of Virgil’s The Aeneid becomes tremendously urgent. Through its poetic language, stylized movement and surrealist imagery, both Kemeid’s text and director Keira Loughran’s production speak of migration in historical and philosophical terms, aiming for a deeper understanding of the encounter between ordinary people (migrants) and nation-states.

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Creating Communities – Reflecting New Europe: “La nuit des taupes” (Welcome to Caveland) and “Web of Trust” presented at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels.

Reviewed by Yana Meerzon

 Photo: Luc Vleminck

“Web of Trust” by Edit Kaldor Photo: Luc Vleminck

Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels: “La nuit des taupes” (Welcome to Caveland!) by Philippe Quesne (Nanterre-Amandiers – centre dramatique national) and “Web of Trust” by Edit Kaldor (Stichting Kata, Amsterdam).

Reporting from a theatre festival is a special task. Often a reviewer watches two or three shows in one day, participates in discussions, meets friends and students. The work is hectic. Still the thinking must be done and the critical opinion proposed.

In the following, I provide some observations on two productions I saw in Brussels on May 8, 2016. Although La nuit des taupes (Welcome to Caveland!) by Philippe Quesne and Web of Trust by Edit Kaldor are radically different in their performative styles, they share a specific concern, something that I see more as a unifying-thread in the 2016 edition of Kunstenfestivaldesarts. (more…)

Last Dream (On Earth): The Intimacy of the Impossible – The Truth of the Unimaginable

Reviewed by Yana Meerzon

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Photo: Deanne Jones

Yana Meerzon has seen this production by the National Theatre of Scotland, presented in Romania during the XV Europe Theatre Festival   (in English with Romanian subtitles).

In his much quoted dictum that ‘to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric’, Theodor Adorno contemplates the ethical responsibility of an artist to speak about and on behalf of the victims of the Holocaust, the 20th century’s major horror. This phrase and Adorno’s concern acquire similar echoing today when theatre, literature, film, and other media begin to seek more appropriate ways to represent the atrocities of migration, global terrorism and civil wars through arts.

In its production Last Dream (On Earth), written and directed by Kai Fischer, The National Theatre of Scotland, a recipient of the 13th Europe Prize Theatrical Realities, XV Europe Theatre Festival, approaches this issue with all the elegance, sincerity and respect that representing the current migration crisis on stage demands.

As the title suggests, Last Dream (On Earth) is constructed at the intersection of seemingly unrelated material: the actual transcripts of the tape-recorded communications between Yuri Gagarin and ground control that took place during his flight to space and the interviews Kai Fischer made during his visits to a refugee centre in Malta and his stay in Morocco. The themes of these two story-lines are however closely related. Both of them speak of the courage one needs to encounter the unknown, be it Gagarin’s decision to volunteer for the space program or the peoples’ misery that forces them to flee their homes.

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