Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

The government’s Brexit white paper has set out a basis to ensure artists’ mobility between the UK and Europe after Brexit.

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Three years since Battersea Arts Centre’s great hall burnt down, it is pre-empting it autumn opening today with a defiant message for Donald Trump https://www.bac.org.uk.

TAITMAIL   What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

TAITMAIL What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

Who is Jeremy Wright, the headlines on Tuesday were asking.  For me, he bears an unnerving likeness to Mad Magazine’sAlfred E Neuman (a kind of 1960s Forrest Gump who only ever said “What, me worry?”), but he was the Attorney General and is now the seventh Secretary State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since 2010.

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London is to get a “Colour Palace” for its gardens next summer.

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

The Shakespeare Schools Foundation has won £33,000 in the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale 2018 awards.

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures dance company is to collaborate with environmental sustainability agency Julie’s Bicycle to creative a creative green certificate for touring.

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Councillors in Reading are backing a plan to turn the town’s famous jail into an arts centre.

New culture secretary appointed

New culture secretary appointed

Kenilworth MP and former Attorney General Jeremy Wright MP is the latest Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport .

New 'Netflix for the arts' to launch

A company has announced plans to to set up a vesrion of Netflix for the arts.

Creative Europe impact on UK bigger than €74m spend

Creative Europe impact on UK bigger than €74m spend

Two reports out today show that since 2014 the European art development fund, Creative Europe, has spent €74m on 334 UK-based organisations and companies and helped distribute 145 British films in other European countries, but the impact has been worth far more.

Historic London swings

Historic London swings

London’s landmarks have been put to music in the latest phase of the Musicity project, devised to bring a new dimension to familiar architecture.

Boom in book adaptation earnings

Boom in book adaptation earnings

The value to the economy of film, television and theatre adaptations of books is soaring, according to a new report from the Publishers Association – thanks to our copyright laws.

National gets rare Gentileschi self-portrait

National gets rare Gentileschi self-portrait

A self-portrait by Artemisia Gentileschi, who broke the glass ceiling for female artists in 17thcentury Florence, has been acquired by the National Gallery for £3.6m.

Horniman Museum goes greener

Horniman Museum goes greener

The Horniman Museum in South London has ditched its café’s plastic utensils for plant-based coffee cups to sandwich wrappers in an effort to go greener https://www.horniman.ac.uk.

Gainsborough’s home to be national centre

Gainsborough’s home to be national centre

Thomas Gainsborough’s childhood home in Sudbury, Suffolk, is to become a national centre for celebrating the 18thcentury painter’s work, with the Heritage Lottery Fund awarding the scheme £4.5m.

Tate St Ives ‘carved out of rock’ is Museum of the Year

Tate St Ives ‘carved out of rock’ is Museum of the Year

Tate St Ives is the 2018 Art Fund Museum of the Year, winning the £100,000 prize, the richest in the world.

Opera Rara goes global with Warner

Opera Rara goes global with Warner

Opera Rara, the company that finds, restores, presents and records lost operatic masterpieces, has today announced a deal with Warner Classics that will give its recordings worldwide distribution.

MU to probe music education

MU to probe music education

The Musicians’ Union has commissioned new research into music education in the UK.

GALLERIES Immersed in Pussy Riot

In March 2012 two members of the feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot were jailed for two years after the group’s performance in Moscow Cathedral protesting against the church’s support of Putin. The experience of one of them, Nadia Tolokonnikova, is the subject of an extraordinary theatrical event being performed by an all-female cast as part of a Saatchi Gallery exhibition this month, created by Les Enfants Terribles

The Saatchi Gallery’s exhibition, Art Riot, marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution through Russian protest art over the last 25 years, with posters, video art, photography and performance art, but a show-stealer is going to be an installation by a theatre company, Les Enfants Terribles, which in 2015 stole headlines with its Olivier-nominated Alice’s Adventures Underground immersive show in The Vaults beneath Waterloo Station when audiences of 750 and more trailed through 30 rooms after Alice and her White Rabbit.

Their new work, Inside Pussy Riot, is different. Running from November 14 to December 24, it will have a cast of 18 working in shifts of ten, from 11.15 am to 6.30 with late shows on three nights of the week, each one lasting an hour. There will be between 40 and 50 performances a day, with a new audience of about 15 arriving every seven minutes.

“What we do is story-telling, and Nadia’s story was one we desperately wanted to tell” says Les Enfants Terribles’ founder Oliver Lansley. “We decided we wanted to immerse the audience in her story.”

The company has worked closely with Tolokonnikova since Lansley was approached by the Russian dissident and theatre producer Alexandrina Markvo after she’d seen Alice’s Adventures Underground, and the connection was made with Pussy Riot. “While the setting for the show is Russia, this situation is all too familiar in many countries today” Markvo says, who is co-producing the production with Les Enfants Terribles’ producer, James Seager. “I hope this blisteringly political production will also serve as a powerful reminder to citizens of democratic countries to cherish and defend their freedoms”.

The company is concerned with experimental theatre, not the agit prop that once characterised Soviet theatre. Though Inside Pussy Riot comes 16 years after Lansley, then 19, founded it, it’s a watershed in the development of Les Enfants Terribles. He had come to the business straight from school in Surrey – and a charismatic drama teacher – via youth theatre into acting and then to put on his first show, Steven Berkov’s West. He and Seager had acted together in a Shakespeare festival; they shared an impatience, wanting to get on stage rather than spend three years at drama school, and went into partnership.

The show they were reprising at Wilton’s Music Hall in October, Terrible Infants, a series of tales that uses puppets and music, was their first watershed in 2007, “where we decided this is what we want to do, the show where we really found our voice” Lansley says. “We were hugely influenced by the European Absurdists, Ionesco, Berkov, Roald Dahl, and it’s really a series of short morality tales. It’s a show that makes grown-ups feel like children”.

Inside Pussy Riot, however, tells the true story of the conceptual artist and political activist Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, known as Nadya Tolokno, who is part of the controversial street art group Voina that has more than 60 members, mostly students, and refuses to co-operate with state institutions, staging street protests and impromptu performances that do not stop short at vandalism. She was also part of the 11-strong feminist punk group Pussy Riot which made a 35-second guerrilla performance of a song, Virgin Mary Put Putin Away, inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in February 2012, after which she and another member were arrested and charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”.

In August that year Tolokonnikova was jailed for two years and sent to a female penal colony where she was expected to work 17 hours a day, sleep for three or four hours and have a day off every eighth week. She says she was frequently beaten up and made to stand in the Russian outdoors with a single layer of clothing. Amnesty International recognised her as a political prisoner. Her experiences, written as letters, were published on her release in December 2013 under an amnesty from the State Duma, and last year she published an autobiography, How to Start a Revolution.

“It feels like the right kind of story to be telling about Russia and the rest of the world at the moment” says Lansley, the author of the play. “It’s the essence of what Pussy Riot stood for, much more than what they did in that church and what they were talking about then. Standing up against huge patriarchal authority is a very important message to be sending out. There was great boldness to what Nadia and Pussy Riot did, and we’ll do our very best to show that.”

And although this is about Tolokonnikova’s experiences, the take on them belongs to Lansley. In 2012 the company presented a more conventional, piece, Trench, based on the true story of a First World War sapper, and Seager and Lansley say they feel more comfortable with real life narratives now than fantasy, which might mean them becoming more politically engaged. “Art often needs to ask questions of society and hold up mirrors – never more so than now -  and more than ever artists have a duty to try to be provocateurs” Lansley says.

“We will be touching on Nadya’s nastier experiences” he says “but our responsibility it to create an uplifting experience, and while we don’t want to shy away from what happened to her the trick is to get a balance”. There are no puppets in this production, there are circus elements though and the audience will be expected to take part, donning balaclava helmets “and standing up for what they believe”.

“We’re not talking about fairy tales any more” Seager adds. “We’re telling real stories”.

Inside Pussy Riot is at the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London SW3 4RY, November 14 – Sunday 24 December 2017. www.seetickets.com

http://www.insidepussyriot.com/

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