Multimedia performance

Plays

Lives of the Great Poisoners

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Lives of the Great Poisoners is a multidisciplinary theatre piece with elements of text, dance and song on the theme of history’s most infamous poisoners. Caryl Churchill collaborated on its creation with composer Orlando Gough and choreographer Ian Spink. It was first performed at the Arnolfini, Bristol, on 13 February 1991 in a production by Second Stride, the performance collective co-founded by Ian Spink, Siobhan Davies and Richard Alston.

The play has three parts, each featuring an infamous poisoner: Dr Crippen, who was hanged in 1910 for the murder of his wife Cora; Medea, the mythical figure who killed her ex-husband Jason’s new wife with poisoned robes; and Madame de Brinvilliers, the notorious seventeenth-century poisoner who learnt the tricks of the trade from her lover. The three stories are linked together by the figure of Midgley, an American inventor and industrial chemist.

The piece requires nine performers: four dancers, three singers, one singer/actor and one actor. Many of the scenes in the play take place between performers of different disciplines: a singer and a dancer, for instance, or an actor and a singer. The music and the text were written first and formed the backbone for the choreography, which grew out of improvisational work in rehearsal. The dance interludes were then woven into the existing text.

The Second Stride production at the Arnolfini in 1991 was directed by James Macdonald and designed by Antony McDonald with choreography by Ian Spink.

Misty  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Arinzé Kene's play Misty is a drama combining gig theatre, spoken word, live art and direct address, exploring contemporary inner-city London, and confronting the assumptions and expectations underpinning the act of telling a story. It was first performed at the Bush Theatre, London, on 21 March 2018, transferring to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End from 8 September 2018.

The play begins with a character called 'Virus' performing a routine about London, which he likens to a living organism. His account of a violent incident on a night bus and its aftermath is intercut with sequences in which 'Arinzé’ wrestles with the story he wishes to tell, derided by his friends and family who complain that he is writing a play that caters to white expectations of black lives.

The Bush Theatre production was directed by Omar Elerian and designed by Rajha Shakiry. It was performed by Arinzé Kene, with Shiloh Coke and Adrian McLeod as the Musicians, and Mya Napolean and Rene Powell as the Little Girl. 

Olfactory

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Over 10,000 different smells drift across our planet in various configurations. Olfactory gives you a choice to craft your identity and to decode the invisible molecules floating through the air. Who do you want to be in the future?

This short play explores our invisible relationship with perfumes and smell, through a one-on-one performance, encased in a beautiful piece of architecture. The experience was originally presented as part of the Lyric Hammersmith's 'Theatre in the Square' season in 2012.

Project XXX

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Project XXX is a dark, romantic comedy. The story follows a feminist teenage blogger who decides it is time to prove that sex on the web is not just for men. During a rainy summer in a northern seaside town, Amy resolves to show that sexual choice is firmly in the hands of women by persuading new love interest Callum to film her first time. Meanwhile, Callum has his own issues to deal with, including a mother on the edge of a nervous breakdown and an obsession with faded porn star Jaze.

Songlines

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Stevie is 17. She's peak cool, or so she thinks. In the middle of the wide-eyed stagger from girlhood to womanhood Stevie is sent to live in the middle of nowhere with her grandma. Suffolk – the home of doggers, folklore and Stan. Stan is peak geek, not that he knows. There are secrets in the marshland, songs that will show Stevie the way.

Interwoven with beautiful live folk music from award-winning band TRILLS. Songlines is a coming-of-age love story in all its awkward teen glory.

This edition is published to coincide with the production at the Pleasance Courtyard Beneath, Edinburgh in August 2018 presented by HighTide and DugOut Theatre.

Sparks

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Fifteen years of disconnected sparks to do the damage. To stop her beautiful fantastical brain from working.

'Fall in love in my early 20s, get married in my late 20s, have at least one child by the time I'm 30. F*ck!'

Life is hard to navigate when you've got so many questions. Can I put this jumper in the washing machine? Do you have my birth certificate? Where did you find love? How did you do it? How do you survive?
A story of a kamikaze love affair with unexpected consequences. Hilarious and heartbreaking, written by

Jessica Butcher and with original music by Anoushka Lucas. Sparks is a two-hander musical about the brain's response to grief.

The Tale of Little Bevan  

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

In a peaceful Norfolk village, three people are seeking happiness. But as the harvest moon fills and the party begins, ancient forces are brought to life. While Tony and Mikey get trapped in the tunnels below the village, Gill's plan for revenge turns sour.

A darkly comic journey through twenty-four hours in the life of a village, Robert Alan Evans's play was created in collaboration with those living in rural communities across Norfolk and Suffolk today.

The Tale of Little Bevan by Robert Alan Evans was premiered by Pentabus in October 2019 in a tour taking in village halls across England. 

Your Last Breath

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

1876 – Christopher leaves his young family behind to work in Norway. He will map the uncharted mountains for the very first time. 1999 – Anna's body freezes after an extreme skiing accident and her heart stops. But doctors gradually warm her until it miraculously starts beating again. 2011 – Freija, a successful business woman, has just lost her father. She travels to scatter his ashes in Norway. 2034 – Nicholas explains a medical breakthrough which saved his life as a baby, whereby the human body can be 'suspended in animation.'

Spanning 150 years, Your Last Breath piece fuses movement, live piano score and video unravelling the landscapes of the heart and our own personal geographies. Winning a Fringe First Award in 2011, it was first presented at the King Dome, Pleasance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that same year. It was made in collaboration with anaesthetist Dr Vassilis Athanassoglou and advised by 'Sense About Science'.

Name given loosely to performance in which different forms, such as speech, song, dance, film or video, are mixed together. Arising in the 1960s out of experiments like happenings and influenced by pop culture, it aspires to a kind of total theatre and often overlaps with terms such as music theatre, performance art and other types of experimental theatre. A good example of the versatility of the designation is the work of Laurie Anderson (b. 1947). She constantly reinvents herself as a performer as she uses technology to explore notions of popular music and artistic iconography in highly theatrical work, from her first piece, Automotive (1972), orchestrated for car horns, to The Nerve Bible (1995), in which she triggers audio samples through electronic sensors padded in a specially designed suit, to Moby Dick (1999), a multimedia mediation on Melville’s novel.

from Charles London, The Continuum Companion to Twentieth-Century Theatre, ed. Colin Chambers (London, 2002).