Live arts correspondent Bella Todd on the hottest happenings in the global cultural calendar this week, including a chance to plan your own funeral soundtrack at London’s SACRED, interactive movies and contemporary circus from Munich to Rome...
The Main Event: SACRED
Dizzee Rascal is going for Tha Crossroads by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Hugh Hefner wants Frank Sinatra’s As Time Goes By. Sir Roger Moore is planning on old Thirties showtune Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, and a terrifying proportion of the general public persists in polling Angels by Robbie Williams. But that still leaves plenty of us for whom the question of what music we’d like played at our own funeral is just too damn morbid to contemplate.
Put it off, however, and it’ll fall to friends and family to choose for you, which is A) landing your loved ones with a crushingly large responsibility at a time when they’ll be crippled by grief, and B) leaving open the possibility that Robbie Williams could be singing you out.
Hence the existence of Or Else Your Friends Will Have To, the latest work from inspirational performance artist Brian Lobel, which premieres at the SACRED season of live art and contemporary performance in London this week. Drawing on his own experience of putting together a mix CD for his ex’s funeral, Lobel has created an exploration of rituals of mourning, memory and the music that goes with it. And the form it takes is unusual even by his standards.
Lobel’s previous performance concepts, always hinging on the gift of intimacy and artist/audience exchange, have included everything from paying members of the public a pound for a minute of their time, to inviting people to pull on a pair of rubber gloves and feel his genitals. Or Else Your Friends Will Have To takes the form of a ‘performance publication’, a small book and CD which Lobel sends to participants through the post, complete with the instructions necessary to create your own memorial through music.
Both humorous and deadly serious, and sitting somewhere on the border between art and performance, it’s typical of the work on offer at the Chelsea Theatre’s SACRED festival, which this year also includes a cluster of work drawn from Brazil’s burgeoning contemporary culture. Also of interest to music fans in the programme will be the highly theatrical operatic pop-noir duo Othon & Tomasini (whose back catalogue includes the first-ever composition for a pianist wearing boxing gloves, and whose new album Impermanence features a guest spot from Marc Almond); Brazilian dance artist Thelma Bonavita with a satirical piece about the Sixties Tropicalia movement; and Bristol’s Action Hero with Frontman, a piece of theatre posing as a faded comeback gig complete with dry ice, tambourine, lip syncing and earplugs for the audience. X Factor Tour 2011 take note…
Best of the rest:
- Rome’s Romaeuropa Festival of theatre, music and dance draws towards its conclusion at the end of November with performances this week from theatre legend Peter Brook, multimedia art-rock showmen The Irrepressibles (playing from their burlesque-inspired new album Nude) and contemporary circus storytellers Zimmermann & De Perrot, whose show Chouf Ouchouf is part of ‘Corpi Resistenti’, a section of the festival dedicated to dance that draws on the Arab Spring.
- Live audiovisual performances and interactive installations form part of Onedotzero’s Adventures In Motion at London’s BFI Southbank this week. A 15-year-old festival of short films and animation, music videos, digital art and more, in the early days it gave a platform to the likes of Spike Jonze and Chris Cunningham and pioneered the art of VJing. This year’s programme includes Sufferrosa, a special live version of Dawid Marcinkowski’s interactive neo-noir movie, forged using video, animation, literature, music and the web.
- If proof were needed that b-boying has established itself as a hugely respected art and entertainment form, this Saturday one of the biggest titles in the breaking world will be decided in the ring at Moscow’s historic Old Circus. Sixteen finalists from all over the globe will compete in the The Red Bull BCOne 2011 finals, which you can watch live here.
- The Winter Tollwood Festival in Munich offers up a curious combination of organic food, political discussion and some of the most cutting edge – if, for some reason, almost exclusively French - contemporary circus around. In Bricolage Erotique, Didier Andre and Jean-Paul Lefeuvre (an industrial draftsman and a livestock farmer who met at French National Circus School) create physical humour from the erotic in everyday life. Compagnie Ieto use their trademark wooden benches for bravado-rich balancing acts and bursts of street dance. And Jean-Baptiste Andre fuses circus skills with digital technology and electronica to create some very 21st-Century illusions.