A Long Wait for Radical History

A Long Wait for Radical History

My personal projects always seem to take ages to get off the ground. I suppose this is because all the work that leads up to getting funding has to happen in the gaps between everything else, not least designing shows for other people. Which I love doing and I get paid for. I’m not complaining. Still, getting a project underway takes a while and this one is taking even longer.

I had the idea for a project about English radical history around eight years ago, I think. At any rate, it was while I was directing A Place at the Table. Our stage manager at the time, Peter Barnett, was another fan of folk music. I remember discussing the exciting new idea with him, so I can roughly date it. This was also roughly around the same time as the Black Smock Band emerged from a series of gay folk nights in Vauxhall. A lot has happened since, with the far right seemingly in the ascendent, but even then it felt as though the narrative of dissent and radicalism in English history needed a bit of rescuing, from all that nonsense about how the Empire wasn’t so bad really and migrants are ruining our way of life. (Quite how you can hold both beliefs at once I don’t know. Anyway.) A major part of what we do as a band is explore the links between then and now, often updating traditional songs to explore their resonances to our contemporary social or political situation. Oh and making them less bloody heteronormative. It made sense to bring these two things – the band and the idea of a performance around English radical history – together. Continue reading

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Open Studio 2016: photos

Open Studio 2016: photos

My main occupation is scenography. I design sets, costumes and video for performance; mainly new writing and devised work. I love the collaborative nature of theatre but I think it’s important to maintain a personal fine art practice alongside it, not necessarily for public exhibition or sale but in order to keep asking myself who I am as an artist and what I have to offer my collaborators. So when it came to finding something to show at Bow Arts Open Studios 2016, I decided to share some of this work. Continue reading

The East Archive

The East Archive

This is something I’ve been working on for a while. It has come out of the East storytelling project, which brings together a fantastic group of people from all sorts of backgrounds to share stories and songs. We decided to create an online archive of our material and then open it up to others who might like to add to it (get in touch if you’d like to contribute).

Anyway, we’re still adding to it and improving it (the tagging system will be more detailed for one thing) but it’s live now and we had an official launch last night to celebrate. So come and have a look! Continue reading

SLICE: London-Lahore

SLICE: London-Lahore

(Originally published in Blue Pages, the journal of The Society of British Theatre Designers)

Slice: London-Lahore is in an experimental project in a very real sense. As well as providing a framework to allow artists from two cities to respond to their built environment, it tests methods for long-distance collaboration. As has been reported in Blue Pages, I have previously visited the now defunct Theatre Department of the Pakistani National College of Arts to share ideas about teaching design, run workshops and seminars and, on my second trip, to design a show. But travelling is expensive, time-consuming, polluting and often fraught with red tape. Slice: London-Lahore offers an alternative approach.

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The Big Interview … Paul Burgess

The Big Interview … Paul Burgess

What’s On Stage, 14 April 2009: The Big Interview … Paul Burgess

Daedalus Theatre Company’s A Place at the Table, looking at the repercussions of the assassination of Burundi’s President Ndadaye in 1993, opens this week at the Camden People’s Theatre (15 April to 2 May). Katie Blemler recently caught up with the show’s director/designer/producer Paul Burgess to find out more.

Could you give us a brief history of the events that occurred directly following President Ndadaye’s assassination? 

President Ndadaye won the 1993 election. He represented the Hutu majority. But he was killed by the Tutsi military elite who wanted to hold on to power. This led to reprisals against Tutsis and a cycle of violence which evolved into civil war. Our play looks mainly at the coup and its immediate aftermath, including the Kimiba massacre where many school children were burned to death.

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