THE THEATRE OF MISTAKES at RAVEN ROW

The Theatre of Mistakes at Raven Row

Artists’ group The Theatre of Mistakes (1974-81) pioneered a structured performance art traversing architecture, choreography and poetry as well as visual art. They formed in London in the early 1970s from a series of open workshops at which instructional and games-based exercises were the focus. These came to inform The Street (1975), a performance with the residents and environment of Ascham Street in Kentish Town.
Fiona Templeton and Anthony Howell distilled the performance exercises into a publication, Elements of Performance Art (1976), arguably the first manifesto for performance art in the UK. A core group of six performers (Mickey Greenall, Glenys Johnson, Miranda Payne, Peter Stickland as well as Howell and Templeton) then agreed to produce contained and systematic works for a five-year duration. Later, ‘mistakes’ were explored through a series of trios, duets and solos and Julian Maynard Smith joined the core group.

The live element in this exhibition will commence on the opening night with a ‘Free Session’ by The Theatre of Mistakes, including early members. Throughout the exhibition, Anthony Howell will run performance workshops every afternoon, while each Friday and Saturday evening there will be performances of Going (1977). Directed by Fiona Templeton, a cast of five will play out mannerisms of departure in five tightly choreographed acts, whilst attempting to be each other.

The Theatre of Mistakes logged its working life, practice and processes in detail. The exhibition reveals this unique legacy of documentation and notation, and includes videos, photographs, a great variety of spatial and choreographic notations, as well as diary texts.

The exhibition is curated by Jason E. Bowman. For further booking information about Going and information about participation in the workshops, please see Raven Row.

 

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THE READIES

 

 

It starts in tantrum’s pram; those tears for treats withheld –

Unfair and inexplicable. And then there is the wonder of it all:

The pocket money tripled by that cheque from uncle –

 

Lack of it feeds the will to cheat one’s way to habitual

Special treatment. The compulsion is hereditary.

How support the life-style that goes with it without it?

 

As with gear, having it takes over from all

Other aspirations, indeed the noblest, most personal,

Get jettisoned in favour of accumulating a stash.

 

What to acquire at the apposite time soon seems second nature,

But the dominant characteristic is that dependency on

Squirreling it away into off-shore purses, paranoid

 

About some rainy day that precedes a deluge. The ark

Must be loaded with cash.  More is what’s needed, and never enough.

The rich don’t buy their shoes in bargain shops.

 

 

 

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WAY BACK WHEN

We could all just tumble into bed together.

We could make love not war,

And then we couldn’t any more.

Now there’s terror everywhere – and condoms.

x

Look, you could just head off across Iran

Into Afghanistan, bed the customs and the border guards

At each check-point and douane

You passed through in your camper van,

x

Stoned out of your mind, regretting nothing that you left behind

In Europe, sampling the local grass,

And so what if they felt you up the arse

In each bazaar you came across? The Troglodyte

x

May be our totem these days, aggressive and possessive.

Back then it was the Bonobo

Who defined our spirit. Openly lascivious,

The species doesn’t go for any power hierarchy

x

Such as we hanker after now with our lust for weaponry.

Now we don’t just tumble into bed

But check beneath it first for some incurable disease

Raising its ugly head. It is perhaps

x

The sex-plague of our time which has engineered

An anger that has turned the paradise of foreign clime

Into some no-go area, as things just go on getting

Scarier and scarier; touch, smell and taste

x

Senses that are banned, as we scrutinise each other,

And as we face the fears that really do have to be faced.

Penetrative intercourse? Why bother?

Brood on how you differ from your neighbour,

x

Wary of any invasion of personal space.

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Anthony Howell talks about The Theatre of Mistakes and later performance art works.

I have just discovered that this talk I gave at Modern Art Oxford, way back, has found its way onto Youtube. Shame that the film is only a screening.

Homage to the Horses

There is now a blog for The Theatre of Mistakes – so click the link to get to it.

And there is a link to the workshops I shall be running at Raven Row from end of June to the beginning of August here

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Beverley at Iguazu

Iguazu 3

Click on image for my poem.

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Jane Bowles’ novel Two Serious Ladies confounds with sinister humor and dark delight

Biblioklept

Two Women, Gwen John

Here’s a short review of Jane Bowles’ only novel, Two Serious Ladies: The book is amazing, a confounding, energetic picaresque suffused with sinister humor and dark delight. I read it knowing nothing about the plot on the recommendation of Ben Marcus, who described it as “so insane, so beautiful, and in some sense, unknowable to me. On the surface, it’s not really about much, but the arrangement of words does something chemical to me.” My recommendation is to dispense with the rest of my review and read Bowles’ novel.

“Unknowable” is a fair description, and Two Serious Ladies was met with bewilderment when it was first published in 1943, as Negar Azimi points out in the comprehensive essay “The Madness of Queen Jane”:

Edith Walton, writing in the Times Book Review, called the book senseless and silly: “To attempt to unravel the plot…

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Oum El Ma Lake in the middle of the desert, Libya

Beautiful. I have always wanted to visit Libya.

Riley Hanna

Oum El Ma Lake in the middle of the desert, Libya

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