Playlist: Testing the boundaries of theatre

| by Asya Robins

Animation, illustration, video projection, sign language integration. Watch our selection of short videos from some of the more established figures in UK performance, as they experiment with form to bring their stories to life

Ridiculusmus's Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! Photo: Bryony Jackson

Check out our video playlist below for an insight into the innovative ways artists are dismantling the conventions of traditional theatre. This is the final in a series of three video blogs, in which we invite you to get ready for this year's Edinburgh Festivals and get to know the productions in our Edinburgh Showcase 2019.


1927: roots

"Everything we've ever made has been a folk tale of some sort"

roots is a collection of eleven little folk tales picked out from The Aarne Index of Folk Tales, including stories of tyrannical ogres, magical birds and very fat cats. Once again, 1927 use their distinctive style, merging performance, live music and animation to bring these stories to life. 

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Birds of Paradise Theatre Company: Purposeless Movements

"What movements have purpose?"

Birds of Paradise explore the nuances of movement, the efforts behind movement, and what happens when we use the term 'purpose' to describe movement. Purposeless Movements uses live music to create a show that is different every night. Neither the audience nor the performers know what is going to happen next.

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Bryony Kimmings: I'm a Phoenix, Bitch

"My aim is to make it light, until the last possible moment"

Bryony Kimmings tells the story of survival, trauma, postnatal mental health, being a single mother in the 21st century, and her recovery from a very difficult year in her life. In I'm a Phoenix, Bitch, Kimmings explores why women play various roles in their lives and how it affects them.

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Cade & MacAskill in association with Take Me Somewhere: Moot Moot

"We're asking you to get in touch"

In Moot Moot, Cade & MacAskill explore the nature of debate in the current climate, loneliness, connection and information overload. They play two doppelgänger radio hosts: Barry & Barry, in a surreal phone-in debate show . The characters are based on comical, improvised reinventions of two radio hosts from the 1970s. The piece uses live voice manipulation technology created by sound designer Yas Clarke.

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Chris Thorpe presented by China Plate and Staatstheater Mainz, Status

"It's not a show where I come on stage and give you my solutions or opinions"

Chris Thorpe spent a lot of time talking to a range of people around the world about their relationships with nationality, whilst also challenging his own reflexive need to walk away from that conversation. Status uses stories and songs to explore the responsibilities of being "from somewhere", and what happens when you reject these responsibilities. The show also seeks to bring in audiences who might not usually engage with theatre.

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Mr and Mrs Clark: Louder Is Not Always Clearer

"It's a show that shares some of the very real experiences of being D/deaf in a hearing world"

In Louder Is Not Always Clearer, Mr and Mrs Clark collaborate with Jonny Cotsen to tell the story of his experience of coming into the deaf world and discovering his identity in it. Told with captions, British Sign Language, spoken English, movement and physical theatre the piece tries to portray what it's like to be a deaf man in a hearing world – enabling audiences to feel Cotsen's isolation and difficulties.

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National Theatre of Scotland, Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation

"It's about belief in the world"

Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation is written and performed by Tim Crouch, one of the UK's most progressive and thought provoking theatremakers. It tells the story of a group of people, who have travelled to South America in readiness for the end of the world, and explores ideas of belief, control, authority, manipulation and abuse. The story is told through a combination of action and illustration - every audience member and actor have a copy of an illustrated book containing the text of the play that drives the narrative.

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National Theatre Wales: Cotton Fingers

"It's a slice of a young woman's life that we don't get to hear about enough"

Cotton Fingers follows 19-year-old Aoife Murray in her journey from Belfast to Cardiff to end her pregnancy. It is a tribute to all the difficult journeys women from Northern Ireland have to make, but it's also bigger than that. It's a reaction to women's rights and human rights, and has a universal voice. 

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Ridiculusmus: Die! Die! Die! Old People Die!

"It celebrates age and death and grief"

Die! Die! Die!  written and performed by Jon Haynes and David Woods is an exploration of how we perceive elderly people, and a commentary on the lack of understanding and patience society now has for them. The show follows an elderly couple through their agonised journey from one point to another, which can be painfully slow to watch. It dares to portray old people doing things you don't normally see them doing. 

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Sue MacLaine Company: vessel

"What does it mean to be in service to your community?"

vessel asks many questions about what defines people's realities, what an acceptable level of sacrifice is, and if the notion of retreating can be considered political activism. Sue MacLaine has created a mixture of script and choreographic practice, whilst integrating British Sign Language into the movements of the performers. She has also used creative captioning – making the work accessible to wide audiences.

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The British Council’s Edinburgh Showcase is the single biggest opportunity for UK theatre companies to introduce their work to international promoters. The programme comprises new work that represents the very best of contemporary theatre and dance, reflecting the breadth and diversity of British performing arts.

This year's Showcase takes place from Monday 19 to Saturday 24 August 2019. You can view more trailers on the British Council Arts YouTube channel.

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