All time. Top 5. Theatre Performances. Not a question to be answered lightly, and director Kristine Landon-Smith takes the challenge like a champ.
The Street of Crocodiles
Complicite 1992, London
Based on the life and fictions of writer Bruno Schulz. Threaded round the story of a Polish Jew growing up in the 1920s. The play evokes the vast landscapes of Schulz’s imagination.
When I first saw this I could not believe the freshness of the performance. Highly intelligent and clever. There were seven actors who were so skilled and deft and they seemed to populate the entire stage on all levels, from the ground, in the air, at chair level and the quality of the acting was quite extraordinary. This had a profound effect on me and was my reason for going to study at Philippe Gaulier. I have such a love of the European tradition of physicality and clowning in performance.
Debbie Tucker Green 2007, The Young Vic
A short play about a multi-generational family of black South Africans, ravaged by AIDS.
Debbie Tucker Green is such an extraordinary and poetic writer. This play was performed in a few scenes that were repeated, but in a slightly differently way each time. I couldn’t quite believe how performing each scene with a different rhythm could shift the sensibility and meaning of the play. A South African choir at the side of the stage sung intermittently and it was quite the most moving thing I’ve ever seen.
Birds with Skymirrors
2013, The Carriageworks, Sydney
Created by Samoan choreographer/dancer and director Lemi Ponifasio exploring ritual and tradition.
I remember hearing Lemi speak explaining once how he came to being a dance artist. When he was a young boy he was very quiet, he didn’t talk much, but he used to like to go to a riverbank near his home and move his body with the wind. A man who saw him, noticed the unique way he was expressing himself and told him he had never seen anything like that before. He was so taken with the innovative language he was creating with movement that he persuaded Lemi to pursue his talent and train professionally. I remember this dance piece vividly, it was so beautifully lit, full of ritual and deeply emotional.
2018, Sadlers Wells
Akram Khan draws on the archives of the 20th century and gives voice to the shell-shocked dream of a colonial soldier in the First World War.
I see all of Akhram Khan’s work. This was his final solo and it reminded me very much of Complicite’s ethos. There is absolutely no compromise in the work. These artists are so ingenious, they have a singular vision and an unwavering confidence. They must work for days until they find the absolute best solution. I admire that greatly.
The Cost of Living
2004 by DV8 Physical Theatre
By Lloyd Newson and Liam Steele. Dance, dialogue and physical theatre tell the story of two street performers in a faded seaside resort town.
I saw the filmed version of this story performed by artists who can deliver the extreme physical requirements of the choreography of Lloyd and Liam. Ground breaking choreography full of life and force. What I love with this work is the breaking down of barriers between dance and theatre and I get very drawn to forms that I’ve never experienced before.