Working on and editing new film about “biomechanics” the acting techniques by Meyerhold. Just a small preview. This is an extended version (around 30 minutes) of the footage shot for the film Meyerhold Theatre and the Russian Avant-garde which I am editing into a film.
There will be no text, just a soundtrack of which a taste can be heard on this video. I debated about whether to add text and some explanation but reached the conclusion that this film is better as a performance video. I will maybe add some written explanation once the video has been released.
This footage was shot in Moscow in a studio a few years ago and I have always wanted to release a longer version of it and was encouraged by many to make a film using this material. I have composed a complete soundtrack which I think is right for the atmosphere of the film. I have written a more detailed account of how we filmed these sequences for the film Meyerhold Theatre and the Russian avant-garde and is included in the book The Russian Theatre Film Series
Have been working constantly on the old film Japan Philosophical Landscapes film. Have made a new version in a different format and finally I managed to get an edited version which works. Certainly it is good enough to put up on Amazon Video Direct which I think is the perfect platform for this film. I never thought it would work on DVD. However I have since revised that opinion and I might release a DVD version as well. The Amazon video direct spot is perfect as it can be viewed as part of the Amazon Prime service which doesn’t entail buying the film although the film earns money for the amount of hours it is viewed. I have completed the closed captions. In many ways I have changed my attitude towards the film. I took it much too seriously and therefore feared criticism. Now I have an easier relationship to it and do not think of it as a real heavy laden piece of work but something much of an experiment – looser and adapted for the internet, concentrating more on the story rather than the preciseness of the images. Some things have worked well, better than I expected. The film fits within the overall project Japan Philosophical landscapes which includes the film Tokyo Journey and David Burliuk and the Japanese Avant-garde as well as the book Journey to Ogasawara. The film can be downloaded here: Japan Philosophical Landscapes
Normally I write my one work for my own projects but lately I have been collaborating with somebody else on book they are writing about Sumerian culture. I am writing a whole extended chapter for T and it is coming along. Took me a long time to get started as I wanted to get more familiar with the material. Fortunately it is a subject in which I have studied and have a considerable background – Ancient British History. The main question was finding the right rhythm and pitch so that it fits with the rest of the book. I’ve never had to do this so it is quite a new experience. Seems to be working OK. Continue reading →
In September 2005 we traveled from Moscow to Japan to make a film about the Russian futurist, poet and artist, David Burliuk, also known as the Father of Russian Futurism. The film was one of a six part series about the Russian Avant-garde. The visit involved a journey to Ogasawara for several days. This book is an account of our voyage to this island in the Pacific Ocean.
Encounters with the Russian Avant-garde complements the series of six films made by Michael Craig and Copernicus Films about the Russian Avant-garde of the 1920s and 30s. Fully illustrated including stills from most of the films, it is not only an account or explanation but also an introduction or to be more specific an “encounter” with this exciting phenomenon. The title reflects an active relationship: firstly through the experience of living in Moscow for many years, plus a direct encounter with the buildings, the architecture and the very territory in which much of the avant-garde arose and to some extent still exists.
The Russian Theatre Film Series is an account of this arts documentary series with all its pitfalls, successes, limitations and achievements. The three films which have so far been completed are “Meyerhold, Theatre and the Russian Avant-garde”, “Stanislavsky and the Russian Theatre” and “Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre”. This book is part of the overall project – The Russian Theatre Film Series and is a milestone and a marker in this developing project. It is also a commentary on what it means to make an independent arts documentary film series in a foreign country namely Russia.
This post is a fragment from a chapter of the book which will be published some time next year. The context is a comparison between the ballet “Petrushka” and “The Fairground Booth”. Both share roots in the Russian fairground and the figures of the commedia dell’arte. To understand a play like The Fairground Booth which has no plot, no characters, no real sense of forward movement or natural time and broke from the traditions of realism and naturalism, requires an approach to Russian culture which moves beyond its surface reflections. When, as Bakhtin states, Dostoevsky’s work embodies elements of carnival, (something which is not immediately associated with Dostoevsky), then it becomes clear why it is possible to find clues to the meaning of “The Fairground Booth” in works of literature as various as “The Brothers Karamazov” and The ballet “Petrushka” and vise a versa. Continue reading →
Finishing one of the most difficult chapters of The Fairground Book and researching the film simultaneously. The chapter concerns Blok and Meyerhold’s legacy and in particular the legacy of The Fairground Booth in Russian and world theatrical history. This is a difficult subject to tackle as it is all a question of interpretation and quite subjective although I have tried to use referenced argument to get my point across. However this is not the main thing to consider since the purpose of the book is to be an introduction to The Fairground Booth rather than a definitive interpretation so the approach has to be looser and maybe even a bit experimental to find a way into the material.
Benois – Italian Comedy -1905
There is not much material to go on and very little can be found on this play and on Russian theatre generally so I have to rely on my own judgement. What happens is that The Fairground Booth is referenced and mentioned in various works, often in passing. Its never occurred to anybody that The Fairground Booth was a major turning point in Russian and world theatrical history.It didn’t exactly turn Stanislavsky’s method on its head but Blok and Meyerhold’s little “balagan” certainly brought down Stanislavsky’s fourth wall. The book will explore not just the play itself but the background and context in which the play was received and will be part of The Russian Documentary Film Series
Planning an extra chapter about Dostoevsky and the Fairground Booth in the book Blok, Meyerhold and the Fairground Booththefairgroundbooth.com. Its come about due to further research into the symbolist painters of the time who were involved with theatre set design and theatre in general in Russia and Europe: Benois, Somov,Golovin and more particularly Dobuzhinsky. He designed sets for The Devil’s Play, and Continue reading →
In an article by James David Jacobs about Shakespeare and music he writes
“The Tempest stands at the crossroads of theatrical history: between the Renaissance and the Baroque, between the Elizabethan theatre of the imagination and the Jacobean spectacle, between the primacy of the word and the primacy of sensory entertainment”.
Similarly The Fairground Booth was written and performed at the threshold of a new epoch in 1906 in Russia. Continue reading →